From the September 2002 Idaho Observer:

Toil, Taxes and Trouble

by The Idaho Observer

On February 14, 1948, while visiting her brother, Vivien Kellems announced to a Los Angeles area Rotary Club that, on February 20, she would no longer deduct income taxes from the wages of the people she employed at her factory in Westport, Connecticut. She boldly demanded that the government prosecute her so her beliefs that the income tax was illegal, immoral and unconstitutional could be tested in a court of law. She also did not feel it was her duty to be a tax collector for the federal government.

Just as the federal government refuses to step into a real court or the court of public opinion today, the federal government did not acknowledge her Rotary Club challenge. It did, however, send four IRS agents to her business to demand that she pay in full the taxes she had not withheld -- $1,685.40.

When she refused, the IRS, without a court order (just like its agents do to this day, see Schiff v. Bank of America [The IO, May 13, 2002]) intimidated Kellems' bank into turning the money over to them.

The IRS left her alone for over a year and then returned in August, 1949 to collect $6,100 she had not withheld.

Kellems thought she had them: She had paid that exact amount of money to her employees and she had proof that her employees dutifully paid the correct amount of income tax. She demanded a refund. The IRS refused so she sued the agency in Federal District Court.

Rather than spoil the fun, we will not disclose whether or not this beautiful, courageous woman prevailed against the federal government. Kellems' odyssey was distilled into the book, "Toil, Taxes and Trouble" (1952). The book is available at or by calling (303) 781-0442.

"Before the income tax was foisted upon us, it was accepted without question that a man's home is his castle. Now, he and his home and his offices have the privacy of a fishbowl."

"And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Agustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city."

~Vivien Kellems. Exhibit A
U.S. District Court, 1951

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