Last week on Twitter, I saw that David Gross retweeted a message from author Sofia Samatar in which she described war tax resistance as self-care. I was immediately taken with this concept, and while Sofia’s plate was too full to write about it, she gave her blessing for me to run with it! So thanks to Sofia for the inspiration; all thoughts that follow are mine, however.
Self-care is a practice of taking actions that heal and rejuvenate ourselves. For some writers, it means relaxing or decompressing from work and activism and family responsibilities – getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, taking time to read a book or watch a movie, or spending quality time with friends and family. For other writers, political action, or care for one’s community, is itself self-care. And others question this dichotomy. Without getting into the whole debate here (although I recommend reading these perspectives on self-care and thinking about what they mean to you!), few people will disagree with the idea that some form of self-care is essential.
Some resisters describe war tax resistance as something they do so they can live with themselves, or something they do to assuage their conscience about where tax money goes. Being able to live in alignment with your beliefs is a profound form of self-care – think about the dis-ease you experience when you do something against your beliefs. War tax resistance not only brings you into alignment with your beliefs about war, it can also help you integrate your beliefs on other issues. When I make money above the taxable line, I contribute to other causes that I care about: supporting social justice organizing, vegetarianism, defense of civil liberties, and autonomous social projects that provide alternatives to government programs and corporate goods and services. This self-care of sticking to my convictions also provides community care for friends and strangers who don’t have the privilege of access to resources and education that I have/have had. And the war tax resistance community itself takes care of each other, with resources like alternative funds and the penalty fund.
I also think that this perspective can help remind ourselves of why we do war tax resistance when times are tough. War tax resistance is caring for ourselves and our communities far more than the war budget ever will – perhaps this is a message we can put forth this Tax Day.
-Post by Erica
Tax Day, April 15, is in just seven short weeks. Every year, NWTRCC network affiliates take action to bring attention to the United States’ military budget and to the tactic of war tax resistance (here’s last year’s Tax Day report). Common actions include distributing the War Resisters League’s federal budget pie chart, conducting penny polls, holding events to draw attention to war tax resistance, publicly redistributing resisted war taxes, and protesting at IRS offices. Don’t feel restricted to those types of activities though!
If you’re not connected with a local war tax resistance group, check out our list of affiliates or start your own. If you don’t know any other resisters in your area, tabling or handing out flyers only takes one person. NWTRCC has literature you can buy or download to print out.
Each year, NWTRCC makes a list of planned Tax Day actions and lists them on our website. Are you planning a war tax resistance action, leafletting, or other activity on or around Tax Day? Email us with the details at: nwtrcc [at] nwtrcc [dot] org, and we’ll get them up on the website. And report back to us on or after Tax Day on how it went (pictures and video encouraged!).
We’re also planning some social media and online organizing efforts, so stay tuned to this blog and to our Twitter and Facebook pages for more information.
A closely related event that occurs every year is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. This year, GDAMS is on April 14, but different organizations may hold GDAMS events on different days. It looks like they still have a lot of materials up from last year, which may not be up to date but might still be useful for organizing!
Best wishes for a fruitful and energizing Tax Day in your town.
-Post by Erica
Last week in NWTRCC’s Strategy Committee, we discussed war tax redirection, which is a tactic employed by many war tax resisters. The money such resisters refuse to pay to the IRS, they instead “redirect” it to organizations they feel will make better use of the money. (Read more about redirection on our website.)
One of the most gratifying things about war tax resistance for many of us is being able to use our money, time, and passion to build a better world right now. If I give my tax dollars to non-profits, I promote and help enact the type of world I want to live in (and depending on my income level and donation amounts, I might reduce my taxable income too!).
If I am able and choose to live under the taxable income line, I may have extra time to redirect to community projects. For example, longtime war tax resister Karl Meyer has been able to rehabilitate several homes to form the Nashville Greenlands community (read this article from 2000). These low-cost homes allow folks to live on low incomes and spend more time on activities that are most meaningful to them.
And for folks like Elizabeth Boardman, who are holding their war taxes aside as they pursue legal challenges to our military taxation system, and for everyone who resists paying war taxes, they are still redirecting their consent from the military to peace.
It is impossible to remove all of our money, time, and effort from the military – the web of militarization and taxation covers so many aspects of society. But the joy of war tax resistance is redirecting, as much as possible, from that system to the world we want to create.
Post by Erica