War Tax Resistance in the Friends Journal in 1974

War tax resistance in the Friends Journal in

There were a couple of heartfelt individual expressions of beginning war tax resistance in the pages of the Friends Journal in . (At this point, also, the mentions in passing of war tax resistance and of “peace tax fund” advocacy had become so frequent that I stopped taking note of them unless they were exceptional or illustrative in some way.)

On , Perry E. Treadwell resigned from his position at a medical research and training university, stating that his “philosophy of life, of education, of human and environmental responsibility, and of research” had grown to be “at odds” with the university’s philosophies. He had a variety of complaints about the university and his position in it, but among them (as he explained in the issue of the Friends Journal) was this:

I also resigned in protest that my labors in the form of income and other taxes go “to the maintenance and promotion of war, military might, and oppression of people both here and abroad by an irredeemably corrupt federal and corporate power structure. These U.S. priorities are in direct conflict with my conscience; they are positions with which I am philosophically and morally opposed and can not continue to support with the product of my labor.”

I support with my taxes a federal government which in the past decade has become corrupt, violent, oppressive and ineffective beyond belief, the complete antithesis of the expectations of my upbringing. I cannot continue to support by my present life style the military dictatorships in the Philippines, Brazil, South Korea, Greece, and other countries; the torture and tiger cages in Vietnam; the war called peace in Southeast Asia; the vast military expense for electronic murder; the strip-mining and waste of my America for corporate profit which protracts the withering affluence of convenience-greedy consumers; the federal welfare for the wealthy at the expense of the poor; and the relaxation of environmental health standards at the expense of everyone.

The following notes appeared in the issue:

Telephone Tax

“This year South Vietnam is receiving $2 billion in U.S. aid — 90% of their budget — and $1.5 billion more in direct American military aid.” The quotation is from a letter sent to local papers by the clerk of Community Friends Meeting in Cincinnati in order to state publicly the meeting’s continued refusal to pay the telephone war tax.

Pay or Pay

In Media (PA) Monthly Meeting it was reported that a notice had been received from IRS to the effect that unless the back telephone tax were paid, there would be a levy against the meeting bank account. The meeting newsletter comments: “It was felt that we should pay this back tax in spite of our position on war taxes…”

An article by Lois S. Andress in the issue urged Quakers to support the “World Peace Tax Fund Act” and explained how this version of the “Peace Tax Fund” would operate. Excerpt:

[The Act] provides an alternative for taxpayers who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war. The bill would establish a fund to receive and distribute to qualified peace-related activities tax payments that now go to military purposes. The remainder of the taxes would go to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury for non-military purposes.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation tried to exploit the concern with taxpayer complicity for war in a full-page ad on the back page of the issue:

Some Friendly Tax Alternatives: F.C.N.L. Contributor’s Income Tax Work Sheet

The ad, in a form that resembled an income tax return form, invited readers to estimate how much of the federal income taxes they had paid in had gone to military spending. It then quickly solicited a donation for the FCNL’s lobbying work, and made two suggestions for “alternatives” — either to “[u]rge your Congressmen to support the World Peace Tax Fund Act” or “[t]hink up alternatives of your own.” War tax resistance is not mentioned as an option.

On , Jack Cady mailed a letter to the IRS (excerpted in the issue of the Journal):

For twenty, or perhaps twenty-two years, I have timely filed my tax return and paid what the government said I owed. I did this all through the Korean War, and God help me, I also did it through the Viet Nam War. In the past few years I have felt worse and worse at tax time, but not because of the money. Those who know me will attest that I give a lot, or even most of it, away. The reason I felt bad is because it seemed an exact endorsement of the actions of this nation’s government.

Now I have to refuse those actions. I have no idea what that means… it may be that you will have to try to strip me of property, harass me from one year to the next, or eventually put me in prison — for I will not pay this tax… in the current state of U.S. affairs it may be that the only honorable place for a man is prison.

The problem, as I understand it, is this: This nation, which once believed itself a nation under God, has somehow come to the point where it advertises that it has the capacity to kill everyone in the world seven times. The proposed military budget is now the highest money budget in our history. This in a so-called peaceful year. I can only understand that what the military is saying is that it wants the capacity to kill everyone in the world eight times. Either that, or there is another possibility. My study of history shows me that it is usually dying governments that arm themselves to the teeth… and large standing armies have traditionally gotten their training abroad only to come back and use it on the home population.

I feel that the U.S. is better than that. In all of the great days of our history we have been concerned with life and living, not preoccupied with avoiding or inflicting death. We kill the best part of ourselves by arranging to kill others.

Part of the reason is that for the last six years I have been writing and teaching about the origins of America. I have spoken in too many classes about the Pilgrim spirit, the Puritan spirit and the dissenting Quaker spirit. I have read George Fox, Jonathan Edwards, John Woolman, Rufus Jones, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Emerson and the myriad other voices of our history who said that life was good and true and finally, honorable. I still believe in the basic truth of America because of those people; and people like Anne Hutchinson and William Bradford, Martin King and Clarence Darrow, Ephraim McDowell and the thousands of others who have believed in a higher cause than murder. You can surely understand, since I have been thinking and talking about these folks, how I must believe that the American people are still not so weak that they must invest in more and more weapons. I think you can understand why I must refuse this tax as the truest gesture of love for my country.

Finally, the issue included this brief note:

Hanover (N.H.) Friends Meeting has decided to continue withholding its telephone tax for the present. The equivalent of the monthly tax is placed in the War Tax Alternatives Fund.

Excerpts from an article in the Cuba, New York, Patriot, :

“It was like the Boston Tea Party.”

That was the reaction of one motorist who was stopped last week on the Southern Tier Expressway during the Indian protests.

Members of the Seneca nation were stopping traffic and passing out leaflets in the wake of a state appeals court decision that said that Indian-owned businesses have to collect state taxes on the sales that are made to non-Indians.

The reaction to that ruling was immediate — and serious.

Indians took to the streets, closing the expressway and a number of roads in the Salamanca area in protest. They also passed out leaflets urging non-Indian residents to support their resistance to the state.

A number of local residents are supporting the Indians in their struggle — which is certainly understandable, since non-Indian local residents have reaped benefits from the proliferation of Indian-owned businesses that don’t collect state taxes.

The state court did not rule that the Indians themselves have to pay taxes, you see — it said that non-Indians have to pay the taxes whether they buy from an Indian store or a non-Indian store.

A lot of non-Indians supported last week’s protests, not because they feel deeply one way or another about the Senecas’ treaty rights, but because they feel very deeply about one issue — taxes.

They hate taxes, and they see an opportunity to stick it to the state through buying from the Indians.

The passion that buying Indian gas and cigarettes inspires has its genesis, at least in part, from a tax resistance, which in turn has its root in the prevalent feeling that the federal and state governments are out of control. Governments are over-taxing the people, squeezing them every way they can, and the people are mad.