National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

War Tax Resistance Speakers Bureau

Juanita Nelson

Juanita died on March 9, 2015, but we'll leave this page up for a while since it is her story as she wrote it, and it has a couple great pictures of her.
Obituary and more links
Juanita outside her Deerfield, MA, home. Photo by Ed Hedemann

I became a dedicated war tax refuser in 1948, the year Wally Nelson and I became partners. I could not support the military so directly when Wally had just spend over three years in prison for saying No to that form of organized crime. We joined the newly formed Peacemakers which had as a major tenet nonpayment of federal taxes.

I found part-time jobs which paid the maximum nontaxable income. Wally did odd jobs with no withholding. I was therefore able to claim him as a dependent, permitting me to earn $50 a week at that time.

Because my employers reported my income, the IRS finally caught up with me after 11 years. I was arrested in only my terry cloth bathrobe for refusing to give information. (IRS agents sometimes keep early hours.)

Juanita speaking at a celebration of what would have been Wally Nelson's 100th birthday on March 29, 2009  in Greenfield, MA. Photo by Daniel A. Brown.On one of my odd jobs – artists’ model at the Cincinnati Art Museum – four dollars were mistakenly turned over to the IRS. I rather regretted that, but decided not to worry about it. Makes a good story.

Wally and I left city living in 1970, part of an effort to lessen dependence on a violent society. We spent over three years in a village of 500 in northern New Mexico with electricity as our only modern convenience. In 1974, we moved to Woolman Hill, a Quaker Conference Center in Western Massachusetts, built a 900-square-foot home with most of the material coming form a small house we dismantled.

Wally died in 2002, but I continue growing most of my food, cooking and heating with wood, drawing water hand over hand from a too deep well, have only two propane gas lights and probably the only certified outhouse in Franklin County. I manage with lots of help from friends much younger.