Nuremberg Principles Argument Fails in Tax Protest Case

From The Modesto Bee, a report of a war tax resistance court case that ran aground :

Quaker loses “war tax” case

A federal appeals court rejected the argument of Quaker Charles Purvis, 60, of Fairbanks, Alaska, citing legal authority that he had a right to withhold the portion of his taxes which would have been used to finance the Vietnam War. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a U.S. Tax Court order that Purvis pay the $13,592 he owes in federal income taxes for plus penalties. On his returns for those years, Purvis had listed amounts totaling $13,592 as a “war crimes deduction.”

Another article expands on this:

Court orders Quaker to pay taxes he owes

A Quaker who refused to pay a portion of his income taxes, saying he was taking a “war crimes deduction” to protest the Vietnam War, has been ordered to pay nearly $14,000 plus penalties to the Internal Revenue Service.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Charles Purvis, 60, of Fairbanks, Alaska, didn’t have a legal right to make the deduction on federal income tax forms in .

The pacifist had argued he had legal authority to withhold the portion of his taxes used to finance the conflict in Southeast Asia.

IRS officials said Congress had not provided a “war crimes deduction” in the Internal Revenue Code and ordered him to pay $13,952.

The federal court rejected Purvis’ arguments that military action in Vietnam and other military preparations violated international law, particularly the Nuremberg Principles, and that he would become an accomplice to this illegal action if he paid his taxes.

Purvis also alleged payment of his taxes would render him in violation of a federal law that prohibits individual military expeditions against foreign countries or people with whom the United States is at peace.

An earlier article, this one from the St. Petersburg Times , reported on the Tax Court case:

Tax protests rejected

The Tax Court has rejected two more attempts by individuals to avoid payment of income tax by challenges to the law or the government.

James E. Ramsden of Hager City, Wis. had filled out his Form 1040 with the words “Object — Fifth Amendment” and he attached a protest challenging the constitutionality of the court itself.

Ramsden’s claims were rejected by the court which also upheld an assessment of penalties for failure to file a tax return.

Charles F. Purvis of Fairbanks, Alaska claimed a “war crimes deduction” equal to his income. He claimed that he was resisting taxation under international law because he opposed the war in Vietnam.

This too was rejected by the court.

Purvis appealed to the Supreme Court in , but I haven’t seen anything about how that went. I suspect the Court decided against hearing the appeal. The appeal tried to use international law, particularly the parts that make it universally illegal for people to engage in acts of aggressive war and war crimes, to argue for the necessity of war tax resistance. It’s too bad the text of the Purvis appeal isn’t on-line. You can find a version of it in People Pay for Peace () by William Durland, who was also Purvis’s attorney during this appeal.