About 1150 Harvard and Radcliffe students have signed an agreement to withhold payment of the tax on their phone bills as a protest against the Indochina war.
TaxPax, an organization of Harvard students and faculty members, started circulating a petition to withhold the phone tax last Tuesday. The petition included the stipulation that the names of the signers would not be made public until 1000 people had signed it. That number was reached on Thursday.
Everett I. Mendelsohn, professor of the History of Science, and Herbert C. Kelman, Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, plan to solicit similar commitments from faculty members.
Mendelsohn is now drafting a letter which he will send to some 800 members of the Faculty urging them to withhold their phone tax.
TaXPax and similar organizations, including the Boston War Tax Resistance League, oppose the tax on long distance phone calls because its revenues finance the Vietnam war.
"The tax on phone calls makes money directly for the war," said James S. Henry '72, one of the TaxPax organizers. TaxPax organizers estimate that the phone tax raises some $1.4 billion annually.
Although refusal to pay the tax can result in imprisonment and fines, the Internal Revenue Service normally gets the money by attaching the delinquent taxpayer's bank account. Henry said that this method of tax collection is being challenged in the courts.
TaxPax will also encourage the resisters to contribute the tax money to antiwar or community groups such as day care centers. And TaxPax founders may try to get people who signed the agreement to participate in non-violent activity in Washington, D. C. this spring.