Tell Your Facebook Friends About Your War Tax Resistance

and then one day I stopped paying for war

Maybe one day you stopped paying for war, and that was an important event in your life. Let your Facebook friends know about it — and maybe inspire them to make such an event part of their lives — by following the instructions on this page to add that event to your Facebook timeline.

Un día dejaste de pagar por las guerras, y ése fue un acontecimiento importante de tu vida. Avísase a sus amigos de Facebook — y tal vez estimúlase ell@s hacerlo un parte de sus vidas — por siguiendo las instrucciones en este página web para añadir ese acontecimiento a tu línea de tiempo de Facebook.

This comes from The British Friend, dated , and is prefixed with the note “Dear Friends, — The following is the copy of a paper I am about to post for the Friend. As the subject is interesting to Friends generally, will you insert it in your periodical, and thus oblige your Friend, B.”:

An inquiry from A. appearing in The Friend, for this month, as to whether those called Church Rates may be considered as taxes on property or not, I confess that, however interesting the question may be, as one of curious legal research, I do not see how its decision could reconcile Friends to such payments. What we object to is surely this, the interference of man in the things of God. If so, it matters little whether one is called on to pay “church rates” to repair a building connected with state religion, or to pay “property tax” for the very same purpose.

Willingness to be led by Christ’s Spirit we believe to be the essence of Christian worship, but in all state churches “law is substituted for love,” and force for voluntary homage.

B.” goes on to denounce establishmentarianism, and concludes:

We utterly deny the man-made ministry of national “churches,” and as steadfastly affirm that none ought to be compelled to repair the places in which such teachers officiate.

In the Herald of Peace, some years ago, mention was made of a Friend in Wales who suffered distraint for the property tax, then existing, because that tax had been granted expressly as a war tax. This is a case in point. When a tax or rate is levied and set apart for a definite object, there can be no mistake, because it is not mixed up with the general mass of rates or taxes.

The letter immediately following this one told of a shoemaker, John Gardner of Garstang, whose goods were seized to pay 1 shilling, 1½ pence of church rates, plus £1, 8 shillings of various fees associated with the auction (in other words, the total amount seized was more than 25 times the amount of the resisted taxes).

American conservative newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler had a soft spot for conservative tax resisters. Here’s another example, as found in the Evening Independent:

Copperhead Refuses To Help Pay Harry’s Traveling Expenses

I have a letter from a typical Copperhead, in the late Roosevelt’s meaning of the term, who reveals a determination quite un-American, according to the same lexicon, not to pay her just share of President Truman’s $50,000, tax-free increase in pay disguised as an expense account, nor her fair portion of the cost of his recent nonpolitical visit to the far-flung haunts of the Faceless Man. I trust that the treasury and department of justice will send her to prison that the majesty of law and justice shall not be mocked.

“Faceless Man” was a favorite Peglerism, though it’s not always clear to me what he meant by it. It may have just meant how an individual person looks faceless when seen merely as a unit in a mass — a member of a demographic, or a voting bloc, or “the workers,” or some such. In the context of taxation, it may have been something similar to “The Forgotten Man” of William Graham Sumner.

Pegler goes on to quote from the letter, in which the writer complains of how her husband was treated. Her husband worked for the telephone company for 30 years, dying in after a long and expensive battle with cancer. She received one year of his salary from his company as a death benefit, and was outraged when the commissioner of internal revenue later decreed this benefit to be taxable income. By this time, the money had been spent on medical and funeral bills, and she was living on (and supporting her elderly mother on) her husband’s life insurance.

Asked of her reaction to the commissioner’s ruling, she writes: “I said: ‘You can tell them I will never pay. I will take the whole matter to Mr. Pegler.’ ” Pegler’s sarcastic response:

Let me hasten to wash my hands of this sordid cause. I do not know this Fascist-minded evangel of greed and civic anarchy. I do not endorse her reluctance to contribute to Mr. Truman’s $50,000 tax-free raise and the cost of his barnstorming trip in the interests of the Democratic party. I don’t want no trouble with no tax collectors.

“On , I filed the income tax form. I will never pay the tax. I will go to jail before I will pay.”

I shall try to learn the outcome of this rash defiance of our laws and report this offender’s progress toward prison.

Pegler brought up this new $50,000 travel allowance for the president many times in his breathlessly outraged columns, though today this outrage sounds quaint. For example, a single trip that President Bush took “to mix with ordinary folk, sample traditional fish and chips, and enjoy a kitchen-table chat at the constituency home of his friend and ally, Tony Blair” cost $2.3 million — or, in 1950 dollars, over six times Truman’s extravagant new annual travel allowance.