War Tax Resister Ken Knudson Gets the Authorities’ Attention

Ken Knudson was ahead of the curve as a young American war tax resister in , and he invented the clever tactic of highlighting the similarities between military conscription and taxation by publicly burning a check to the IRS in the same way that some potential draftees were burning their draft cards.

The article below highlights how his protest successfully got the attention of the authorities. (A similar protest today, alas, would probably mostly be ignored.)

A United Press International dispatch from :

U.W. Employe Refuses to Pay

Tax Rebel to Face Federal Prosecution

 — Tax records of a man who burned a $500 check in front of the local Internal Revenue Service have been turned over to federal authorities, officials at the University of Wisconsin said .

Kenneth Knudson, 25, an employe of the university’s physics department, said the check he burned represented the amount he owed on his taxes. He said he refused to pay the taxes because they were being used, in part, to finance the war in Viet Nam.

Madison Campus Chancellor R.W. Fleming said Knudson, who is married and has one child, claimed 12 exemptions on a dependent exemption form filed with the university. Fleming noted Knudson acknowledged this was a false statement “designed to prevent the withholding of any of his salary for income tax purposes.”

“The Internal Revenue Law provides, and it is so stated on the back of the W‒4 form, that it is a violation of the law to overstate the number of exemptions claimed by the taxpayer,” Fleming said. “Mr. Knudson has therefore publicly advised the university that he is in violation of the law.”

Prosecution in Prospect

Fleming said the form was turned over to federal authorities at the request of the IRS. He said Knudson has also been advised that “the university cannot be party to violating the law, and he has indicated that he is filing an amended form.”

Fleming also said Knudson is “neither a student nor a member of the university faculty. He is an employe supervising scanners and measures in an elementary particle physics project.”

Knudson, who also tore up his 1040 form , said he has not paid income taxes for four years because the money was going for the war. Tax officials said at that time he would be “treated the same as any other taxpayer” if he hadn’t paid his back taxes.

Knudson said he was a member of the “No Tax for Viet Nam” committee, which he said has 200 members across the country who have pledged not to pay taxes because of the war.

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