War Tax Resistance in the Friends Journal in 1983

War tax resistance in the Friends Journal in

War tax resistance was a frequent topic of discussion in the pages of the Friends Journal in , with an increasing emphasis on how Meetings as a body could engage in war tax resistance, and with at least one Meeting taking the step of recommending that all of its members begin resisting war taxes.

The issue noted that “a growing number of Friends bodies” were organizing demonstrations against war taxes around the country:

New Call to Peacemaking approved the idea in one of its workshops in . The idea of a Good Friday witness was the subject of an “Epistle to All Friends in America” in from North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative). In , Baltimore Yearly Meeting endorsed the idea and suggested it be broadened to include members of other churches. Friends Coordinating Committee on Peace endorsed the idea at its annual meeting in .

The form of witness can be decided independently in each local area. Participants might gather together for worship followed by public witness. This could include an offering of letters from individuals, an appeal for support of the World Peace Tax Fund bill, a vigil at the local IRS office, collection of withheld funds from tax refusers to be presented to a local organization, etc.


An effort is underway to collect signatures and funds for an ad in several newspapers and magazines opposing the payment of military taxes. For a copy of the proposed ad send SASE to Don Groersma…

A later issue reproduced this “Epistle to All Friends in America” from the North Carolina Yearly Meeting:

Dear Friends:

Recognizing the potential effectiveness of simultaneous corporate action in speaking truth to power, North Carolina Conservative Friends urge all Friends everywhere to join with members of the several yearly meetings, and of the Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren — persons who, together with Friends comprise the historic peace churches — in making a witness to Internal Revenue Service on .

It is urged that all Friends everywhere who are called upon to remit income taxes to the U.S. Government, and who are prepared to file an income tax return, do so on that date and incorporate with their tax returns any one of several forms of protest. Some examples of such protest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Enclosing a letter stating Friends’ beliefs about the making of war, and expressing concern that a large proportion of one’s taxes will be so used as to violate those beliefs.
  2. Withholding a small, symbolic amount of money deemed by Internal Revenue Service to be owed as a tax payment, as a gesture of protest of the war-making portion of our national budget.
  3. Withholding that proportion of the taxes one is called upon to pay which would otherwise go toward the making of war and war preparations.
  4. Making a public witness, singly or together with others, giving expression in deed as well as word that Friends stand prepared as a body of Bible-believing Christians to still take seriously our call to peacemaking in our increasingly troubled and militarized world.

We commend this epistle to you in the name of our Saviour, who continues to set before us his standard, and who calls us to be faithful even unto death, as he was faithful even unto death upon the cross.

Yet more impressively, on , the Minneapolis and Twin Cities Meetings approved a minute that asked “all members of our meetings to practice some form of war tax resistance”! That minute was excerpted in the issue:

…We are called to nonviolent protest in response to preparations for war. We recognize lovingly that individuals must conscientiously weigh their own commitment to these traditions in the light of their own personal situations and obligations. Yet we are asking all members of our meetings to practice some form of war tax resistance:

  1. To withhold all or a portion of our federal income taxes that go to pay for war, shifting these resources from preparation for war to the meeting of human needs;
  2. To aid and support others who refuse to pay war taxes for conscience sake;
  3. To make every effort to reduce our federal tax liability through contributions to peace-oriented and life-affirming endeavors;
  4. To reduce our affluence through less than full-time occupations or by other means to diminish income to or below the level of tax liability, releasing thereby also time and energy to devote to endeavors related to domestic and international justice and peace, living simply so that others in the world may simply live;
  5. To support and seek passage in Congress of the legislation which would establish the alternative World Peace Tax Fund for receipt of funds from citizens who cannot in conscience aid in the preparations for modern warfare; and
  6. To include letters of protest with our income tax statements as well as to inform the president and our senators and representatives that we can no longer in conscience share complicity for the current preparations for war.

Our government and others seem prepared to bring catastrophe to humanity and nature through the use of devastating weaponry. We recognize that those who for religious reasons refuse to pay taxes for war are committing acts of civil disobedience. We, members of the Twin Cities and Minneapolis Friends Meetings, affirm civil disobedience through war tax resistance to be one appropriate witness to our religious precepts and to be an expression of deep concern for our country’s future.

We ask all citizens of other faiths to consider carefully these conclusions to which we have come and to act in the light of their own consciences.

Give war tax resistance a nationwide look: Use these posters locally on April 15! These designs will be used by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee for nationwide actions on Tax Day 1983. Help us give war tax resistance a nationwide look…

an ad from the issue of Friends Journal

David Zarembka, identified as the treasurer of the recently-formed National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, had an article in the about the American cultural norm in favor of violence and the lack of strong taboos against homicide in our culture. He concluded:

Like the prophets of the Old Testament, we must realize that our whole world view, the whole intent of our society, is based on a divine misordering of our lives and society. We must stop. Each individual must stop joining the military, must stop working for the military in any fashion, must stop owning stock in corporations that profit from military contracts, and must stop paying military taxes.

Give money without giving your money away: Interest-free loans are one way numerous Friends have found to support Friends General Conference and reduce their income taxes while retaining financial security for themselves and their families. These Friends loan money to F.G.C. at no interest, which F.G.C. invests to earn income which is used to support the varied programs of the Conference, such as publications, religious education curricula, and the ongoing nurture program. These loans provide regular dependable monthly income to the Conference, and reduce the interest income on which the lender must pay federal income taxes, while providing the lender with protection against unforeseen financial reversals. F.G.C. will repay the principal amount within 30 days after receiving a written request from the lender. All principal amounts are kept in insured investments.

a Friends General Conference ad in the issue of Friends Journal promoted interest-free loans to the Conference as a way to to keep assets secure without gaining taxable interest income

One of three “burning concerns” addressed in Saturday sessions at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in was “The Draft and War Tax Concerns: Toward a Corporate Testimony” — but a report on the sessions in the issue noted that “unity could not be achieved” on that point.

The General Board of Friends United Meeting endorsed the World Peace Tax Fund legislation, according to a note in the issue. The Meeting “calls upon its members to take action in support of the bill before Congress… The World Peace Tax Fund, FUM notes, would provide a legal way for individuals to redirect their taxes ‘to nonmilitary, peaceful purposes.’ ”

That issue also mentioned that Rahway and Plainfield (New Jersey) Monthly Meeting had sent out a war tax resistance information packet to all the monthly meetings in the New York Yearly Meeting.

“Bill Strong, member of the War Tax Concerns Support Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, donates war tax resisters’ money to St. John’s Hospice of Men, .”

War tax resistance came up at the London (England) Yearly Meeting in , and some delegates from Philadelphia noted that the debate seemed very similar to the one Philadelphia Friends were having. Norma Jacob wrote:

One major preoccupation this year, both in Philadelphia and in London, is the withholding of taxes. In both places serious reservations were expressed about the wisdom or the expediency of this particular form of protest against war, and the arguments are the same. There are, perhaps, some differences in the law, which may alter the degree to which the employer, in this case London Yearly Meeting, is to be held civilly responsible. But there was no reluctance to give support to the Friends House staff members who object to supporting the military through taxes, even among those who might find themselves in serious legal trouble as a result of a stand of which they personally might not approve.

The issue noted that Lorraine Cleveland had redirected $400 of her taxes to her Meeting so that it could purchase a copy of the film The Hundredth Monkey which she hoped could be used to demonstrate that “we have the creativity and power to change both ourselves and this world.”

At the Lake Erie Yearly Meeting in , among the minutes they approved was one “encouraging monthly meetings to establish meetings for sufferings to aid war tax resisters.” The North Pacific Yearly Meeting met at and also took up the issue, though the description given in the Journal is vague about what they actually decided to do about it:

During sessions set aside for seasoned concerns, a minute on war tax resistance was presented by University Friends Meeting (Wash.). The minute was introduced and accepted in the context of Friends tradition and the need for a supportive statement as expressed by the many tax resisters in attendance.

When Friends Journal editor-manager Olcutt Sanders died in , Vinton Deming took his place. Deming was a war tax resister, and would later try to get the Journal to support his resistance by not cooperating with the IRS’s attempts to tax his salary.

The Pacific Yearly Meeting met in and, among other things, “established a peace tax fund.” The Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting met and “approved minutes in support of the World Peace Tax Fund and of conscientious war resisters.”

The issue included this note:

A War Tax Resistance Minute by Davis (Calif.) Meeting states, in part, “We, the members of Davis Friends Meeting, affirm civil disobedience through war tax resistance to be one appropriate witness to our religious precepts and to be an expression of deep concern for our country’s future… We are asking all members of our meeting to practice at least one of the following forms of tax resistance”: to aid and support others who refuse to pay war taxes for conscience’s sake; to support the World Peace Tax Fund legislation; to include letters of protest with our income tax returns as well as to inform our legislators that we can no longer share complicity in the current preparations for war; to reduce our affluence and diminish our income to or below the level of tax liability by living simply; to contribute to peace-oriented or life-affirming endeavors; and to withhold a portion of our federal income taxes that go to pay for war, shifting these resources from preparations for war to the meeting of human needs.

That issue also reprinted a minute from the Washington, D.C. Friends Meeting concerning the phone tax:

The U.S. excise tax on telephones has always been associated with war. Throughout the period of American military involvement in Indochina, congressional proponents of this tax said that it was needed to pay for the costs of war.

After the withdrawal of American troops from Indochina, the excise was to be eliminated. Over the years it was steadily decreased from ten percent to one percent. In this tax was increased to three percent.

Friends have a long-standing testimony against participation in war and preparations for war. At present, the Congress has ignored the popular mandate for a freeze on the deployment and testing of nuclear weapons, and has continued to appropriate funds for new weapons systems. Our president has ignored public opinion polls which show that the majority of people oppose U.S. military intervention in Central America, and has proceeded with plans to commit U.S. forces in that region. Registration for the draft has been reinstituted.

We strongly urge Friends to consider whether it is appropriate to continue payment of this war tax on telephones.

In the same issue, Tim Deniger had a letter-to-the-editor about the World Peace Tax Fund legislation. Although he acknowledged that the proposed law “does not address the problem of spending for defense versus social welfare; it is simply a bookkeeping proposition which would ease the consciences of pacifists” he had written a letter to a senator (Alfonse D’Amato of New York) to urge him to support it. D’Amato wrote back to explain why he wouldn’t be, saying in part:

[W]ithholding of tax dollars from the Department of Defense would simply be an accounting illusion. Total defense spending would not decline. A larger proportion of the tax dollars of other Americans would merely be used for military programs. Most likely, it is the non-defense programs which would end up being underfunded. Thus, despite its lofty intentions, the burden of S. 880 would fall most heavily upon the needy receiving benefits from a multiple of federal social programs.

At the meeting of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, “[r]epresentatives approved a document outlining the implementation of a War Tax Resistance Minute that the annual meeting approved [see ♇ 30 July 2013]. Positive responses and cautionary notes from yearly meetings were considered when the war tax subcommittee established policy for this FWCC corporate witness.”

The issue had a note about Quaker Mark Judkins’s war tax protest:

…Mark brought $300 worth of food to the IRS center to pay for $78 worth of taxes. The food was not accepted as legal tender. Police officers prevented the protesters from bringing the food into the office. Mark announced that he would donate the food to the Milwaukee Hunger Task Force’s food bank.

And the same issue noted:

War tax resisters in Ann Arbor, Mich., are planning to run ads in local and national newspapers and magazines listing the names and addresses of signers of a statement setting forth their reasons for living in volunteer poverty (below taxable income level) or refusing to pay some or all income taxes or the federal excise tax on phones. Friends wishing to become part of this project should write to War Tax Resistance National Ad Campaign…