National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

War Tax Resisters Taken to Court

In the modern war tax resistance movement (since World War II), very few people have been brought into Federal court, convicted, or jailed because of their war tax resistance. In fact, only two war tax resisters — James Otsuka (1949) and J. Tony Serra (2005) — were ever jailed for not paying taxes. Most resisters have been taken to court on related charges, such as failure to file, “falsifying” 1040 forms, contempt of court (by refusing to produce records), or (in the early 1970s) for “fraudulently” claiming too many dependents on their W-4 form.

[For a list of IRS property seizures against war tax resisters, go to nwtrcc.org/IRS_seizures.php.]

The shortest column represents one person and the tallest is seven people who were taken to court for war tax resistance related cases. The year represents the indictment or initial court appearance. (Data as of Dec. 2013.)

war tax resisters taken to court between 1940 and 2010

Year Resister City, State Charge
Sentence Served Notes
1942 Ernest Bromley Bath, NC tax evasion
2 mo. 2 mo. refusal to pay $7.09 car defense tax stamp
1949 James Otsuka Richmond, IN contempt and tax refusal
3 mo. + $100 mo. refusal to turn over records or pay $4.50 income tax; released 1/16/50
1958 Maurice McCrackin Cincinnati, OH refused summons to produce records for IRS
6 mo. +$250 6 mo. noncooperated with court; jailed (12/58) and released (5/59); conviction overturned
1959 Juanita Nelson Philadelphia, PA refused summons to produce records
1 day arrested, taken to court (6/16/59); charges eventually dropped
1960 Eroseanna Robinson Chicago, IL contempt for refusing summons to produce records
12 mo. 3 mo. noncooperated with court; jailed in Alderson, WV; hunger strike; released 3/1
1960 Walter Gormly Mt. Vernon, IA contempt
7 days 7 days order to show cause for refusal to produce records for IRS
1963 Arthur Evans Denver, CO contempt for not turning over records
3 mo. 3 mo. Jefferson County Jail (8/12/63)
1968 Neil Haworth Haddam, CT contempt for refusing to produce records
2 mo. 2 mo. cited 1st Amend.; Middlesex State Jail
1970 Jim Shea Vienna, VA false/fraudulent W-4 and bail-jumping
12 mo. mo. after 1970 conviction, jumped bail, then surrendered in 1974
1970 Sally Buckley St. Paul, MN false/fraudulent W-4
1 mo. convicted (11/16) but her tax ($217) anonymously paid by friend
1970 Jack Malinowski Philadelphia, PA false/fraudulent W-4
indicted (1970), convicted (1971), sentenced (1972) to 3 mo. probation
1970 Dennis Richter Minneapolis, MN false/fraudulent W-4
indicted Sept. 1970 for declaring 40 million dependents [disposition unknown]
1970 Donald Callahan Philadelphia, PA false/fraudulent W-4
indicted (12/16/70); charges dropped (1972?); deal could have been made
1970 James Smith Springfield, MO false/fraudulent W-4
$50 arraigned (1970), convicted & sentenced (1971) to $50 fine
1971 Karl Meyer Chicago, IL false/fraudulent W-4
24 mo. 9 mo. indicted, pled nolo, sentenced (5/21), jailed in Sandstone, MN; released 2/16/72
1971 Bill Himmelbauer Chicago, IL false/fraudulent W-4
12 mo. 6 mo. indicted, pled nolo, sentence (6/22); Sandstone, MN
1971 Mike Fowler Chicago, IL false/fraudulent W-4
1 mo. 1 mo. indicted (4/15), pled guilty, sentenced by Julius Hoffman
1971 Ellis Rece Augusta, GA false/fraudulent W-4
12 mo. + $5000 mo. + $5000 indicted (Oct 71) for claiming 53 dep; guilty (5/22/72); sentenced (5/26/72)
1971 Henry Braun Philadelphia, PA false/fraudulent W-4
3 mo. + $500 arraigned (1971), convicted (1972), sentenced (5/15/73)
1971 Roy Schenk Madison, WI false/fraudulent W-4
pled nolo, found guilty (11/71) to falsifying W-4; disposition unknown
1971 Mark T. Riley Sacramento, CA false/fraudulent W-4 (14 exemptions)
6 mo. 5 mo. indicted (1971); sentenced (1972) prison plus $500 fine
1972 Carole Nelson Minneapolis, MN refusing to produce records for the IRS
10 days 10 days order to show cause (5/2)
1972 Lyle Snider Greensboro, NC false/fraudulent W-4; contempt for refusing to stand
9 mo. 3 billion dep; arrested (1972), convicted (1973); all reversed on appeal (1974)
1972 Ron Mitchell Madison, WI false/fraudulent W-4
indicted for inflating W-4 but disposition unknown
1973 John Leininger Rochester, NY false/fraudulent W-4
1 hour! 2 mo. arrested (1973); sentenced (1974) to 1 hr. but spent 2 mo. noncooperating
1973 Martha Tranquilli Clarkdale, MS tax fraud (Form 1040 dependents)
9 mo. mo. claimed 6 peace organizations as dependents
1973 Neil Haworth New York, NY order to show cause 9/4/73
appeared before IRS 12/19/73 and refused to answer based on 5th Amend.
1974 J. Tony Serra San Francisco, CA failure to file a return
4 mo. 4 mo. SF attorney defends self and is acquited on 2 of 3 charges
1975 Robin Harper Wallingford, PA order to show cause
won with Fifth Amendment
1975 Margaret Haworth New York, NY order to show cause
won with Fifth Amendment
1977 Richard Catlett Kansas City, MO failure to file a return
2 mo. 2 mo. 10 mo. susp., plus 3 years prob.; indicted 1977, sent. 6/14/78, jailed 1/5 - 3/5/79
1978 Bob Anthony Philadelphia, PA order to show cause
  First & Fifth Amends.; judge sat on case until 1982 then ruled against Anthony
1979 Bruce Chrisman Carbondale, IL failure to file a return
12 mo. sentenced to a year voluntary service and 3 yrs probation
1980 Paul Monsky Cambridge, MA false/fraudulent W-4
  sentenced to a year probation
1981 Kenneth Pichler Eau Claire, WI order to show cause
  19 days contempt; jailed & released after 19 days when agreed to turn over records
1982 Kathryn Kohrman Brattleboro, VT order to show cause; contempt
$300 cited Nuremburg; ruled in contempt (7/22); turned over records (7/27)
1982 Robin Harper Wallingford, PA order to show cause
Justice Dept. withdrew subpoena to produce records before trial
1983 Leo Volpe Mays Landing, NJ failure to file
4 mo. 4 mo. Restored Israel of Yahweh, small Bible-study community in NJ that preaches pacifism
1985 Larry Bassett Patchogue, NY order to show cause
won with Fifth Amendment
1986 J. Tony Serra San Francisco, CA “willfully filing late”
12 mo. 1 year suspended, 5 years probation
1987 Dale Macurdy Somerville, MA order to show cause
cited Fifth Amendment; IRS withdrew Order
1989 Max Rice Comer, GA order to show cause
2 mo. 40 days contempt for not turning over records; used First Amendment
1989 Don Mosley Comer, GA order to show cause
2 mo. 40 days contempt for not turning over records; used First Amendment
1989 Bobby Hieger New York, NY order to show cause
IRS withdrew Order after Hieger cited Fifth Amendment
1990 Allen Moss Baltimore, MD order to show cause
won with Fifth Amendment
1991 Randy Kehler Colrain, MA contempt
6 mo. mo. Nuremburg; contempt for refusing not to return to his and Betsy Corner’s seized house
1993 Bill Ramsey St. Louis, MO violating terms of probation
1 mo. 1 mo. ordered to pay taxes after convicted for leafleting inside IRS; jailed (8/24)
1997 Jan Passion VT order to show cause
IRS withdrew Order after determining case uncollectible
1999 Ed Hedemann Brooklyn, NY order to show cause (delivered 12/98)
judge accepted 5th Amend. in refusal to turn over papers to IRS (3/5/99)
2004 Inge Donato Mays Landing, NJ failing to withhold and pay taxes for employees
6 mo. 6 mo. Restored Israel of Yahweh, small Bible-study community in NJ that preaches pacifism; convicted (2004), jailed (2005), released (2006)
2004 Kevin McKee Mays Landing, NJ attempted evasion of employment taxes and failure to file
24 mo. 24 mo. Restored Israel of Yahweh, small Bible-study community in NJ that preaches pacifism; convicted (2004), jailed (2006), released (2008)
2004 Joe Donato Mays Landing, NJ attempted evasion of employment taxes and failure to file
27 mo. 27 mo. Restored Israel of Yahweh, small Bible-study community in NJ that preaches pacifism; convicted (2004), jailed (2006), released (2008)
2005 J. Tony Serra San Francisco, CA willful failure to pay $44,000 in taxes for 1998 & 1999
10 mo. 9 mo. convicted (2005), jailed (2006), released (2007), plus one month in a halfway house
2010 Frank Donnelly Lamoine, ME tax fraud, falsifing and lying on his returns
12 mo. 4½ mo. Underreported income 2002–2004; ordered to pay $3,000 fine & $90,000 in back taxes; released 12/15/10 to halfway house; released June 2011
2012 Cindy Sheehan Vacaville, CA order to show cause
cites 1st & 5th Amend. in District court refusal to respond to IRS (4/19/12); Sheehan line-by-line refusal in IRS office (5/9/12)
2013 Joseph Olejak Delmar, NY willful failure to file
26 wknds. [TBC Apr. 2014] Quaker resister since 1994, sentenced (10/17/13) in Federal District Court to 26 weekends in jail, $240K back taxes, and community service

“Order to Show Cause” — If unsuccessful in finding sufficient assets of a resister, the IRS’s last resort is to convince a U.S. Attorney to issue an Order to Show Cause. This Order asks a U.S. District Court judge why a refuser should not be held in contempt for not giving the IRS the financial information it seeks. The Order often requires the resister to make a written response and appear in court. If the judge does not dismiss the Order and the resister does not provide the required financial information, the resister could be held in civil contempt of court and jailed. Resisters argued their opposition to paying for war and the military based on moral, religious, or political grounds, or on international law; in addition some pled the Fifth or First Amendment.

SOURCES: The Peacemaker, Peacemakers, 1949–1992; Handbook on the Nonpayment of War Taxes, Peacemakers, 1983; Tax Talk, National War Tax Resistance, 1969–1975; Center Peace, Center on Law & Pacifism, 1981–1985; Conscience, Conscience and Military Tax Campaign, 1982–1994; Network News, 1984–1994, NWTRCC; More Than a Paycheck, 1994 to present, NWTRCC