Mr. Carter Refuses to Pay His Military Tax

Some weeks back I reached the maximum income I can earn this year while still staying below the income tax line. So I gracefully ended my contract and am now on an (at least) six-month sabbatical. I recently got my last payment from my main client this year, and so, although I’d also received a 1099 from the same client last year, the IRS failed to intercept any of my payments this year and seems to be flailing a bit in its attempts to locate assets to seize for my (roughly $14,000) tax delinquency.

I’m spending part of this sabbatical doing additional research in the hopes of putting out an expanded second edition of American Quaker War Tax Resistance.

As I do this research, I sometimes come across examples of tax resistance that are either not American or not Quaker or or not war tax resistance or come after my arbitrary deadline, and so aren’t right for the book. They fit right in here at The Picket Line, though.

Here’s a good example (despite its haphazard punctuation), from Volume 74, #51 of The Friend ():

To the Editor of the [Boston] Post:—

The announcement made in the Post that one Carter had been released from the New Haven Jail where he had been confined for twenty-one months for refusing to pay a military tax of one dollar to the State of Connecticut shows what power there is in passive resistance to defeat a tyrannical measure.

Carter is a man who does not believe in war — at least wars of invasion — so when the good old town of Ansonia Conn. assessed a military tax of one dollar on him he simply said that it was against his principle to pay it and that he would go to jail before he would pay it. Result twenty-one months in New Haven jail at an expense of two dollars and fifty cents per week to the town that sent him there or say a total cost of two hundred and twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents added to the tax levy of Ansonia as the cost of trying to force a man to pay one dollar for a purpose that he did not believe in. And like Mark Twain in his controversy with the missionaries the fact that the tax was such a “little one” had no weight with Carter who evidently believes that “all just governments rest on the consent of the governed” and that numbers have nothing to do with principles. Suppose a million men in the United States had said with Carter that “we will go to jail before we will pay a military tax” is it conceivable that militarism could have secured $200,000,000 to wage an aggressive war.

Speed the day when millions of men will prefer going to jail rather than spend their time in producing wealth to be used in murdering their fellow-men on the field of battle.

Some day the people may become sane enough to remember with feelings of gratitude, the man who was willing to lie in prison for twenty-one months rather than give a single dollar to aid in the business of barbarians.

The letter is signed “T. Small” of Provincetown, Massachusetts. I haven’t found much else about this Carter fellah. The New York Times ran a short piece about him that adds these details:

The money raised by the tax is used to support the National Guard of the State… Friends offered to advance the money to Carter, but he stubbornly refused to accept the money and pay the tax.… A citizen of the town connected with one of the large manufacturing concerns which has an office here… had this to say: “No, it was not an expensive luxury for the town. Some of the slothful voters, hearing of the fate of Carter, have been prompt to pay this poll tax, though they had never before paid a tax of any sort. Our Collector says that the keeping of Carter in jail as a sort of horrible example has really been a paying investment. Collection of poll taxes was made easier than ever before. The town has received much more than the usual proportion of this tax — always a hard one to collect — and some of the neighboring towns are talking of following our example. Incidentally, too, it has been a good thing for the political committees of the town, as both have had fewer taxes of this sort to pay out of their funds, in order to keep careless and shiftless people who happen to be voters on the list of electors.”