William F. Buckley vs. the Writers & Editors Tax Protest

We, the undersigned writers and editors, believing that American involvement in Vietnam is morally wrong, pledge: 1. None of us voluntarily will pay the proposed 10% income tax surcharge or any war-designated tax increase. 2. Many of us will not pay that 23% of our current income tax which is being used to finance the war in Vietnam.

William F. Buckley, in his column, took a few potshots at the “Writers & Editors War Tax Protest”:

The public relations people have been calling around trying to get publicity for the latest venture of the Narodniki of the Vietnam protesters. Someone finally prevailed on someone to publish the story, and it appeared in the New York Times under the headline “Writers Protest — Vietnam War Tax, 133 Will Refuse to Pay if — Surcharge is Approved.” A number of writers, the story explains (the usual ones) have announced bravely that if Congress passes the surtax they will simply refuse to pay it.

And then — on down towards the end of the story: “A letter accompanying the protest statement points out the possible consequences of willfully refusing to pay Federal income taxes. Violators of the law could receive up to one year in prison an up to $10,000 in fines.”

But hold on: “Mr. (Gerald) Walker (organizer of the protest) said, however, that of the 421 signers of a similar no-payment ad last year in a Washington newspaper, not one had been prosecuted and sentenced. Of an estimated total of 1,500 additional protest non-payers, he added, none had been prosecuted since the war in Vietnam began. The Internal Revenue Service has chosen, so far, to collect unpaid taxes by placing a lien on the incomes of those who refuse to pay, or by attaching their bank accounts, or other assets. In addition, a 6 per cent interest penalty is charged each year on the unpaid tax balance.”

Thus the protesters stand to lose 6 per cent on a savings deposit, so that leaves 1 per cent. One per cent of your old tax, for an average writer, means say a buck seventy-five, which isn’t bad, is it, for making the hero page of the New York Times?