As I heard the story about 30 years ago, they along with others who objected to the war in Southeast Asia, reduced their federal income tax payments by an amount to roughly account for the portion of federal spending going to the war. After a couple of years, the IRS essentially said, Pay up, or you're going to jail. Others actually did go to jail, but my parents decided, with four kids at home, that wasn't the responsible path for them. They settled up their unpaid balance (with interest) and moved on.
Last week I was at my Mom's, going through things and papers in the wake of Dad's death last November. I found their tax filings from 1958 (the year they married) through 2013, and the folders starting with 1969 contain the documentation of their actions, as narrated here and here.
The 1973 folder contains a subfolder labeled "Case," and you can follow Mom and Dad's efforts to satisfy their consciences and the IRS at the same time.
It leads off with a form letter stamped with the date Jul 29 1974 (their big underpayment action would have been in April, 1974, for the 1973 tax year). The IRS sent them a report explaining the adjustments to their tax. "If you do not agree with the adjustments, you may do one of the following within 15 days from the date of this letter:"
The three options were:
- send in additional evidence or info;
- request a meeting with a tax auditor; or
- request a conference with a conferee.
The attached report says,
Items changed: WAR OR OTHER PROTESTS
Amount Shown on Return or As Previously Adjusted: 13000.000
Corrected Amount of Income And Deduction: 0.000
Adjustments Increase or (Decrease): 13000.00
There's then an explanatory note:
19-A DEDUCTION, CREDIT, OMISSION OF INCOME, OR OTHER ADJUSTMENT ON A FEDERAL TAX RETURN AS AN EXPRESSION OF WAR OR OTHER PROTEST IS NOT PROVIDED FOR IN THE LAW. WE HAVE CORRECTED YOUR TAX FOR THE ADJUSTMENT YOU MADE. (SECTION 61 OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE).
The following numbers show their corrected tax owed as 10,445.10, while the tax shown on the return they'd filed in April was entered as 5,407.52. The result was a "statutory deficiency" of 5,0937.58.
Their prepayments, through employer tax withholding and estimated tax payments, were 5,686.90, so they owed 4,758.20.
The IRS also included Publication 5 (Rev. 10-73), "Appeal Rights and Preparation of Protests for Unagreed Cases".
Chronologically, the next item in the file is a letter from my parents, to Noam Chomsky, dated July 30, 1974. The letter seems to be a response to the report from the IRS, though the dating is confusing. The IRS report is dated July 29, 1974, a Monday. If it was sent by mail, how would they have had it before, say, Wednesday. Was it hand delivered? Was it sent by overnight mail?
Anyway, their letter from the 30th reads,
Dear Professor Chomsky:
We have taken an "illegal government activity deduction" to underpay our 1973 taxes by about 50%. At some point we will have the opportunity, and perhaps the need, to document particular illegal government activities in 1973 - 74. We had in mind Vietnam and Chile as examples.
Could you direct us to good sources for documentation of these or other activities? If you have the time and interest, it might also be helpful to talk about the tax refusal case; we are on very unfamiliar ground here.
Thanks for any help.
A second letter from the same date is to:
Chief, Service Center Audit Division
P.O. Box 2072
Andover, Mass. 01810
Reference: AU:CA-Stop 102B
We have received your forms RSC-525 and 1902-E, dated July 29, 1974. We still maintain our version of the return, and thus request a conference with a conferee at the Boston District Office.
Since the issue is basic policy, not the details of the return, this seems more appropriate than to send more information, or to meet a tax auditor.
Robert T. Seeley
Charlotte B. Seeley
Then there's nothing in the file until the next January.