Yes, it’s time for a tax strike

| National,News

A few weeks ago, Truthout published Is it time for a tax strike? A conversation with activist Michael Kink. Kink is executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition in New York City. The title of the article refers to to the very last prompt and answer in the interview. The prompt was, “People are planning protests around Tax Day, and one of the things other than general strikes that is floating around in the air is the idea of tax resistance.” And Kink responded,

“I think this year for Tax Day, it is like, “Donald Trump, release your taxes and don’t give huge tax cuts to your billionaire buddies….” The plan for massive tax cuts for billionaires who already have so much money that they are hurting our economy by not letting the rest of us have any of it, that is [outrageous].

“If Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon and Trump continue to run the country and we have international wars and we have a government that won’t comply with court orders, we are going to need tax resistance. Tax resistance is the kind of thing, like general strikes, that people toss around really easily and say, “We should just not pay our taxes,” but, again, I think this moment is pretty unique in American history. Tax resistance has been a part of the history of the United States of America since the beginning…. Like a general strike, it [can] happen if everybody is going to do it. People need to get together and create a means by which folks can actually feel comfortable not paying their taxes, putting it into a separate account and getting receipts for it and all doing it together as a collective political statement. But if [some] smart people in the financial service industry and technology are able to give people some reliable way to put their money somewhere else … you can charter a state bank. Any state could create a state law that allows itself to charter a government bank. Jerry Brown could do it in California; Andrew Cuomo could do it in New York.

“…Trump has the lowest public opinion rating of any president at this point in American history. Tax resistance is something [with which] we can break their backs, and when and if it is time, we should do it together.”

I’m already a war tax resister, and I don’t put any trust in government institutions to change or to do the right thing of their own accord. It boggles my mind a little that someone would think, given everything that’s already happened in the Trump administration, that it might be wise to wait longer to start organizing tax resistance.

It’s time for a tax strike. Change comes from the grassroots, from individuals and communities taking action. Let’s not wait for “when the time is right,” because the time is now. It’s not going to suddenly become more right to refuse this administration’s militarist spending priorities and executive actions by next year. And look back before Trump: each president before him, with few exceptions, has helped grow the military budget and engaged in wars.

Plus, tax resistance movements take time to catch on. There is a lot more interest in war tax resistance this year than NWTRCC is used to seeing. Still, people don’t seem ready to jump into resistance this year. Many have already paid taxes for 2016 through federal withholding. We need to organize toward larger resistance next year.

There are already tax resistance campaigns pulling together in addition to NWTRCC’s work. One group of resisters is calling on people to refuse $10.40 this April 18 as an introductory step to war tax resistance (link not yet available). (See also 1040 for Peace, a separate group.) Another group is calling for a 100-day strike of $100 to protest Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. NWTRCC has not signed on to any outside campaigns yet, but we’re watching closely!

For this year, we continue to promote our Divest from War, Invest in People campaign and the collective redirection efforts of local war tax resistance organizers. We’re spreading the word about border militarization, about how to write a letter to the IRS, and every tactic we know about. Let’s learn from this year and prepare for 2018!

 

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One thought on “Yes, it’s time for a tax strike”

  1. Larry Bassett says:

    I have been organizing to encourage people to become war tax resisters for a very long time. Recently I have noticed people talking about the horrible Ronald Ragan era in the 1980s when military spending skyrocketed. People are talking about that because they see it happening again now with the Trump administion. During the Reagan years there was a peace organization called the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign (CMTC) that had a goal of collecting 100,000 signatures of people agreeing to resist as a group when the goal was reached. After a number of years of significant effort only10,000 signatures were collected. This year I have been doing significant out reach to determine the willingness of people to consider WTR. Some well-known people have alluded to the possibility but none have signed on to act. Since I am going to resist a significant amount of taxes this year, I have asked people I know to personally support me. The positive response I have received reminds me of the significant support I received when I was taken to court in 1985. But few of the many people who are willing to support me are willing to join me in resistance. so I don’t think we’re ready yet for a significant collective action.

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