National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

Workshop and Session Notes –Nov. 3, 2012

Revitalizing Local Groups
Aging and WTR
Banking and WTR
Frivolous Penalties and WTR
Mutual aid/Alternative Systems, etc.
Federal budget presentations & deficit
Social Media and Online Outreach
Going to court with WTR issues

Revitalizing Local Groups

Still need more thinking on this actual topic of what to do for local groups that are struggling or dwindling. Much discussion ended up being around outreach:

To promote WTR:
Submitted by Elizabeth Boardman
• Start within other P & J groups
• Encourage people to start small, baby steps: phone tax, pay under protest
• Educate re: values, federal budget, wide range of advocacy options
• Guest speakers at churches, schools, etc
• Public redirection ceremonies; get publicity; good for April 15
• Talk or write about this NWTRCC conference to your associates
• Keep the faith. Advertising theory: takes 7 "hits" to hook the customer
• Get mutual support – see NWTRCC website, local buddies

Aging and WTR
Submitted by Mary Sprunger-Froese

Many concerns were voiced about how to get needed healthcare (and the complicated and difficult Medicare/supplemental requirements/restrictions), how to figure out financial matters (IRA's have 20% taken out for federal taxes when cashed in), any investments that may be in bonds support military efforts, if you've been levied your social security will be reduced to repay what you withheld, if you don't have enough quarters for social security, then what?  The issue of weariness of longterm resisters as they age and then find they need to support ailing parents so may need to work more/longer and tax resistance may change.  Two people in the group said their retirement is fine, they have social security and can live ok with what they get, given their situations.

The need for support and information was underlined.  Maybe NWTRCC could have a link to senior resources, about how to deal with Medicare questions, future levying of social security.  And maybe the newsletter could feature an article about ways some elders deal with these issues.

Banking and WTR
Submitted by Ken Freeland

Present: Gary, Joffre, Dan, Ken

Some points raised during this discussion:

* A bank account requires a social security #
* Banks report all interest on an account directly to the IRS…the IRS therefore already has these records and does not need to do an independent audit to gain this information (do we want the IRS to know the extent our fiscal security?).
* This holds for all banks, not just FDIC banks
* It's possible that non-interest-bearing accounts are "under the radar," and do NOT get automatically reported to the IRS.
* Using a credit union vs. a bank is beneficial because it allows more say over the policies of the institution (and is advocated by the OCCUPY movement)
* International bankers form the core of the ruling class/militarism…we should seek to participate in the banking system as little as possible as a matter of principle
* Both classical Christian and Islamic traditions proscribe the collecting of interest

Given the above discussion, there was a consensus among the participants that it is advisable to keep money in a non-interest bearing account, and to switch to a credit union account for the future.

Frivolous Penalties and WTR
Submitted by Vickie Aldrich

A large group of us gathered around a round table at the national meeting to share and discuss our experiences and strategies for dealing with Frivolous filing and arguing penalties. I had recently settled with the IRS regarding a FFP (Frivolous Filing Penalty) on my 2009 tax return, I had suggested the session and agreed to facilitate.

There are a number of crucial times and decisions in the process to be aware of.

The first is The Warning Letter: from the collective experience it seems that it is a good idea to act assertively and persistently if you get a letter from the IRS warning you of the possibility of a frivolous filing penalty. Robert Randall II has had positive results with calling the IRS at this point (this may mean calling until you get a cooperative person) and getting the penalty dropped and a document sent saying that it has been dropped. Others who have sent letters in reply to the warning letter or just ignored it have had mixed results.

The Penalty Letter: if the letter saying you have received a $5000 frivolous filing penalty does come in the mail with a 10 day due date there are a couple of responses – one is to pay it and then ask for a refund later, there is one person who is in this process, second is to appeal the process which could include connecting with a Senators office and/or local Tax Advocates. I took this approach and eventually got the penalty reduced to $500. The appeals process allows for the option of tax court. Note: watch out for 'frivolous arguing or correspondence penalties'. Some people around the table had received in the regular appeals process (not relating to FFP) a penalty for frivolous correspondence. It was also recommended by everyone to open all correspondence from the IRS.

The collection letter: this is the real point at which one can appeal and request a hearing. It is through the hearing process that you can get a reduction of the penalty and possibly the removal of it. Do you want a lawyer? This is a decision you may consider. I was lucky enough to get pro bono legal support through the University of New Mexico law school clinic. I had to qualify as low income but this had the benefit of working with a law professor whose expertise was with tax law and with young law students who were interested in the case. The disadvantage was that the students and professor where not into war tax resistance (though they were supportive of my rights to resist).

Do you go to tax court? In my case this decision came about 7 months after the law school had taken the case, to go on to tax court would have been another 8 months with the possibility of a worse outcome than the offered reduction of the penalty to $500. I think in some cases the tax court can be a positive outcome and something one would choose to do. Elizabeth Boardman shared about her attempt to get to tax court to protest the frivolous filing penalty before actually receiving a penalty.

Will you agree to a settlement? I was not really aware of this possibility when I started the appeals process but when I realized the challenges of appealing or challenging the IRS I decided that it made sense to stop and accept the reduced penalty.

Be prepared to act assertively and persistently to challenge the frivolous filing penalties. The group agreed that the penalties seem to be sent out at random and not related to the method in which someone is doing war tax resistance.

Mutual aid/Alternative Systems, etc.
Submitted by Jason Rawn

We began by discussing broadly what "mutual aid" means to each of us, how we'd like to see mutual aid happening, how we've been doing mutual aid, general thoughts, etc.

Some comments: Some support in our current and future WTR, particularly when feeling isolated; How to support aging WTRs; Bartering as WTR practice; the enhancement of bartering networks and practices; The possibility of a WTR "laundry list" of basic steps to take; Possibility of a Buddy System; Mutual financial aid

Some Resources That Exist to Facilitate Mutual Aid:
• WTR Penalty Fund(s)
• Slow Money Movement
• telephone, email, in-person communication our individual and collective integrity
• WTR counselors and contacts (online list), listserve, nwtrcc.org, the handbook, collection parties, social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter...), legal defense fund(s), escrow fund(s), film "An Act of Conscience", film "Death and Taxes"

Other Comments:

Is it possible to derive a "coaching list" for doing WTR? This was brought up in reference to the judge's comments about preferring more openly-acknowledged WTR in Frank D case

The desire to be connected, witnessed, supported in our WTR, particularly in light of feelings of isolation and the general public's fear of IRS and coercive methods

How are people documenting their WTR and, in particular, their redirection?

"Redirection differentiates us from Constitutional tax resisters"

What framework(s) could be used to document WTR and redirection?
• Financial statements of conscience
• Project-based witness
• Letting your Republican neighbors know you're a WTR
• Documented history of WTR=redirection diary
• "It's not much, but it's my life."

We agreed on the need for clear and present information and resources for people in the thick of dealing with the IRS.
A communication network, updates, opportunities to support those in need in various
ways. "More Than a Paycheck" updates about Carlos S, Frank D, and others were
mentioned; listserve mentioned; online counseling contacts mentioned

Projects funded by redirected $ as way to support ourselves in our resistance, publicize our actions, and strengthen our movement.
Sample project description/template:
• Step One: Organize project(s) on local level. Explanation of how Maine WTRs have
been investing redirected funds into permaculture projects called permablitzes
Step Two: Sample budget showing how these funds would be spent:
• $400 - hire designer/organizer
• $200 - materials (compost, plants, straw bales, etc.)
• $100 - food and drink for lunch and/or after-party (emphasis on local foods)
• $300 - documentary work (film, publicity, etc.)
This is a rough budget. It should be noted that local WTR groups could write their own project descriptions that could mandate documentary/publicity work as part of their grants. Groups not interested in investing in permaculture projects might devise their own projects that offer meaningful paydays, heal the earth, nurture activists, publicize WTR, demonstrate how/that our common wealth can be invested in non-military, regenerative ways. And what would happen if we as a national network or movement approached these types of projects together in our separate regions publicizing them locally and via social media? Etc.

Federal budget presentations & deficit
Discussion focused on Gary Erb's analysis and look at the budget presentations:

Another Look

Take another look at WRL’s pie chart flyer “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes.” Of the Current Military portion only 10% is for the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since 2001 base military expenditure has multiplied. Having expanded their global presence, especially in Africa and Asia, the Pentagon has bases in 120 countries, up from 80 during the cold War.

Servicing 80% of the national debt is $377 billion. Therefore, servicing 100% of the debt is 16% of the pie. This portion needs room to grow, but the amount of the debt, almost twice the size of the pie, is not given, and neither is the current deficit.

For 30 years we have tailored our message for people who have given their lives to Pacifism. Consequently our movement has not grown.

Meanwhile, the young in the encampments, in the streets, and locked down in The Hole are there because they are victims of predatory lending without having signed the mortgage. But they do not understand that 4o years of investing in military dominance required disinvestment in youth, and military spending has been Wall Street’s safety net since 1950. They do not understand that surveillance, intimidation, demonization, “turtle cop” brutality, the warrantless burst ins, seizures, and arrests without habeus corpus are because global full spectrum dominance includes the USA.

WRL and NWTRCC do not have to begin by converting the whole generation to tax resisting Pacifism. Occupy Wall Street has had an enormous impact by taking inequality from unmentionable to unignorable without converting a whole generation to military Socialism.

If not us, Who? If not now, When?

Social Media and Online Outreach
From Carlos Steward

Several people attended the Social Media Workshop and learned the location of the NWTRCC social media sites and how to set up Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts anonymously for social activism, messaging to members, and to find new audiences for their events. Participants learned that the front end time to create social media and networks is intense but as time goes on the workload is lighter and the network that your built will do the heavy lifting for you through reposting or re-pinning your events and messages. Social media is used primarily by younger people and therefore is an excellent way to engage younger audiences to your events, meetings and ideology. By concentrating your efforts on the "big three" social media networks ( Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest), your time is used more efficiently and larger regional or national audiences can be followed and/or friend-ed and enticed to follow and post on your posts as well.

Using Social Media for Political Engagement

The use of social media is becoming a feature of political and civic engagement for many Americans. Some 60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project finds that 66% of those social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of eight civic or political activities with social media.

Overall, there are mixed partisan and ideological patterns among social media users when it comes to using social media like social networking sites and Twitter. The social media users who talk about politics on a regular basis are the most likely to use social media for civic or political purposes. And the social media users who have firmer party and ideological ties—liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans—are, at times, more likely than moderates in both parties to use social media for these purposes.

Some of these activities are more likely to be pursued by younger social media users compared with the social media users who are ages 50 or older. Younger users are more likely to post their own thoughts about issues, post links to political material, encourage others to take political action, belong to a political group on a social networking site, follow elected officials on social media, and like or promote political material others have posted.

Here are the key findings in a recent nationally representative survey:

38% of those who use social networking sites (SNS) or Twitter use those social media to "like" or promote material related to politics or social issues that others have posted. Liberal Democrats who use social media are particularly likely to use the 'like' button—52% of them have done so and 42% of conservative Republicans have also done so.
35% of social media users have used the tools to encourage people to vote. Democrats who are social media users are more likely to have used social media to encourage voting—42% have done that compared with 36% of Republican social-media users and 31% of independents.
34% of social media users have used the tools to post their own thoughts or comments on political and social issues. Liberal Democrats who use social media (42%) and conservative Republicans (41%) are especially likely to use social media this way.
33% of social media users have used the tools to repost content related to political or social issues that was originally posted by someone else. Republican social media users are more likely to do this on social media—39% have used social media to repost content, compared with 34% of social media using Democrats and 31% of independents.
31% of social media users have used the tools to encourage other people to take action on a political or social issue that is important to them. Some 36% of social-media-using Democrats have done this as have 34% of Republicans. This compares to 29% of independents who are social media users.
28% of social media users have used the tools to post links to political stories or articles for others to read. The social media users who are liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are the most likely to have used social media this way (39% and 34% respectively).
21% of those who use SNS or Twitter belong to a group on a social networking site that is involved in political or social issues, or that is working to advance a cause. There are no major differences by ideology or partisanship when it comes to using social media this way.
20% of social media users have used the tools to follow elected officials and candidates for office. Some 32% of the conservative Republicans who use social media follow officials on social media and 27% of liberal Democrats who use social media do so.

Links:
How to use Twitter
Pinterest For Marketers
While these are written for marketing and business applications, there is great information that can be applied to activism sites as well.

Going to court with WTR issues

Stay tuned


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