Five Members of Faculty Will Withhold War Taxes To Voice Vietnam Dissent
Five Harvard faculty members and nine M.I.T. professors-including two Nobel prize-winners-have announced their intention to withhold portions of their 1970 taxes to protest the Vietnam War.
In identical letters appearing in the CRIMSON and the M.I.T. Tech this week, the professors said they will refuse to pay portions of the 10 per cent surtax or the telephone tax "as a sign of our personal opposition to the continuing Vietnam War."
Salvador E. Luria, M.I.T.'s 1969 Nobel laureate. and George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology and a 1967 Nobel winner, each signed the letters to their colleagues. Other Harvard signers are Harvey Cox, professor of Divinity; Everett I. Mendelsohn, professor of the History of Science; Herbert C. Kelman, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethies; and Mark Ptashne, lecturer in Biochemistry.
The signers asked other faculty members who have also decided to withhold their taxes to join them in a press release on April 15-the same day that tax resistance rallies are scheduled around the country.
The Boston professors are among the first groups in the country to announce a systematic plan for withholding taxes. Several individuals-most notably Joan Baez-have withheld taxes to protest the war in the past.
In most cases the government has simply appropriated bank accounts or pay checks to get the revenue. although tax resisters are liable to jail sentences.
'Dragging One's Feet'
"All of us confidently expect the government will collect the tax before this is through." Wald said yesterday. "We are expressing our disapproval of what ourcountry is doing and making it more expensive to collect these taxes and do it.
"You understand that one is essentially dragging one's feet." he added.
"We are clearly engaging in a conscious form of civil disobedience," Mendelsohn said. "We are judging the war. We are saying it is wrong, and we are consciously cutting ourselves off from the war in the ways that we can.
Cox, who is now on sabbatical from the Divinity School, said the purpose of the action is to involve non-draft-age people in the anti-war movement.
"We've been asking young people to take a lot of risks-burning draft cards. resisting the draft, marching. I think it's time to spread the risk through the whole life cycle." he said yesterday.
The tax withholding is aimed primarity at the telephone tax and the 10 per cent surtax which were approved as means of financing the rising cost of the war.
Harvard is forced to deduct the surtax on salaries monthly, but taxes on royalties and honorariums must be assessed privately every year by the April 15 tax deadline.