We’re blogging WTR stories and info. Check out War Tax Talk.
NWTRCC is getting worried calls from resisters in our network who have received calls from a scary sounding "criminal division" of some agency that sounds like the IRS. The caller basically says pay up now or you will be arrested and prosecuted. Do not freak out. The IRS website has five easy ways to spot suspicious calls, and another page about the recent data theft through the IRS "get transcript" application and their process to notify taxpayers whose data has been compromised.
WTR David Gross keeps up with news from war tax resisters in Spain, and he posts links on Facebook. They have some creative resources, including two videos in Spanish: a step-by-step how to video, and another appealing, "This is not a crisis, it's a robbery: Resist Your Taxes!" A Twitter campaign using #objeccioDirecta has some excellent graphics. We could use creative help here. Please email if you have skills and ideas you'd like to offer to NWTRCC.
Juanita Nelson—friend, mentor, inspiration, pacifist, farmer, activist, war tax resister—died March 9, 2015, at age 91. There was a celebration of her life on May 30 in Greenfield, Massachusetts, which included a New Orleans style funeral procession with the Expandable Brass Band and memories from many of her longtime friends.
Our obituary page has links to an article about the memorial (with video of the New Orleans style parade), interviews and some of her writings. There are more remembrances and tributes on the appreciations page too.
NWTRCC learned belatedly about the death of longtime supporter Iris Alexander. She died November 19, 2014, at her home in Buffalo, New York. She was 86. Her obituary tells about her life of activism beginning as a college student to the March on Washington in 1963 to Women in Black, the Buffalo Peace Center, and trips to Cuba several times with Pastors for Peace. Read more...
War tax resisters were out with fair wage protesters and also participating in annual actions to cut the military budget and redirect taxes to life and the planet. Some good media from the days around tax day included:
Occupy Radio Podcast — "War Tax Resistance" interview with Ari Rosenberg. Starts at 6:35 min.
WMNF Radio, Florida — "War tax refusers redirect money to civil improvement," Rob Lorei interviews Bill Ramsey about resistance and redirection. Starts at 4:00 min. (Apr. 15)
On Saturday, July 28, 2012, three antinuclear activists took an action that put them in headlines across the country for shutting down a nuclear plant pending an investigation. Calling themselves the Transform Now Plowshares, Sr. Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli made their way onto the property of the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee and splashed blood and hung “Swords into Plowshares” banners on the building housing the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.
Sr. Megan Rice, a Catholic nun, and Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, both military veterans and Catholic Workers spent two years in prison for their 2012 Transform Now Plowshares direct disarmament action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Tennessee. Sr. Megan Rice was due out in November, 2015; Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli were due out in fall, 2017. Their lawyers appealed their sabotage conviction, and it was overturned! All three were released from prison on May 16. Their message — and the work — continues: DISARM NUCLEAR WEAPONS!
Prepare for actions on the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Download our flyer — or send us yours to post on our website.
"The U.S. military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world and one of the world's largest sources of greenhouse gases," headlines a flyer from the San Diego Peace Resource Center. Scroll down our war and environment webpage for a link to that flyer and other resources that you can use in your community any day.
Naomi Paz Greenberg attended the 2015 Jewish Voice for Peace membership conference in Baltimore, March 13-15. She took some conscientious war tax resistance literature. Her report is linked here.
Dirk Panhuis, 73, died near his home in Belgium in February after a battle with leukemia. He served as Secretary of Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI) from 1996–2013, and his volunteer work ensured the group's survival. NWTRCC activists who attended any of the international conferences on WTR and peace tax campaigns met Dirk. Larry Rosenwald has been a NWTRCC representative at a few meetings and says:
He was the second international peace tax activist I met, the first being Pedro Otaduy, he also now gone to the world of light; Pedro drove me to the Hondarribia conference in 1994, and I met Dirk shortly after my arrival. Such an impressive man, effortlessly polyglot, moving easily from fluent English with me to fluent Spanish with Pedro, though neither was his native language; he was erudite, earnest, gracious, humble, and tenacious. He knew what his goals were and worked towards them tirelessly, and I admired and admire that even if, as sometimes happened, they were different from mine.
I didn't get to know him well, though I kept thinking that getting to be friends with him was just one visit away. But that visit never happened, so I'm left with my admiration for him and the causes he so patiently devoted himself to.
“One of the most important spiritual directors in my life has been the Internal Revenue Service,” says Kathy Kelly, who is currently serving three months in federal prison for an action against drones. She has been a war tax resister since 1980. Read more on our blog.
Out of England comes some other resistance news: “Greg Wise, the actor married to Emma Thompson, has announced that he and his wife will refuse to pay tax until those involved in the HSBC tax avoidance scandal go to prison.” Read more on Daily Kos — and thanks to author Jonathan Tasini for including info on war tax resistance.
Audio interview with David Gross on Litopia After Dark. David is the author of 99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns. The interview includes a challenging question about whether war tax resistance is elitist.
Audio of David Zarembka’s workshop on U.S. militarization of East Africa.
Watch Erica Weiland’s November 6 talk about her road to war tax resistance at Bethany Seminary and Earlham School of Religion’s weekly Peace Forum.
Friends Journal has a new article on simple living telling the story of how one family of four lives happily on less than $25,000 per year. It complements one posted Nov. 12 on The Atlantic website: “Can Quitting Your Job Help Stop War?”
“You Have Already Been Drafted” by Erica Weiland on ZNet, Oct. 21, 2014. “Recently, as Congress debated funding the “moderate” Syrian rebels, Representative Charles Rangel proposed that old chestnut of Democratic politicians, reinstating the draft. On top of that, he also proposed the related chestnut, instituting a specific war tax to pay for the new war. The theory goes that because Americans aren’t making sacrifices like they did for the Good War, they don’t realize the costs and impacts of war…” Read more
“How A Nice, Middle Class Girl Became A War Tax Resister,”
Remarks to the 29th Annual Gathering of New England War Tax Resisters & Supporters, Oct. 4, 2014, by Lisa Savage “As a privileged member of the ruling class in the empire of the United States, I was brought up to be nice. My New England grandmother told me a few things that stayed with me: Fools’ names and fools’ faces are often seen in public places. And, pretty is as pretty does. These things were meant to elaborate the concept of nice behavior…” Read more
It seems like everyone involved in war tax resistance in New England for some decades knew Lou. He attended many a Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance meeting, tax day action, and New England Gathering of War Tax Resisters. But he had a long activist history, starting in the Civil Rights movement (even marching with Martin Luther King, Jr.). He was involved in the draft esistance movement during the Vietnam War, was a member of the Committee for Non-Violent Action, and his friendship with Wally and Juanita Nelson influenced Lou’s commitment to war tax resistance and nonviolence. As his health declined, Lou moved to assisted living and then a nursing home, where he died on July 14. His full obituary is on the Brattleboro Reformer website.
In an unusual case for war tax resisters, an upstate New York, chiropractor, Dr. Joseph Olejak, was found guilty of felony tax evasion. We learned of this case in December 2013 through an article in his area newspaper, and we have an article by him and about his case in our April/May 2014 newsletter. He completed the jail portion of his sentence, 26 weekends in the Columbia County (N.Y.) Jail, on May 18, 2014.
Marj Swann of Santa Cruz, California, died on March 14 at the age of 93. She has an amazing history of activism, including an arrest in 1958 for trespassing at an Omaha, Nebraska, nuclear missile site; as a co-founder of the New England Committee for Nonviolence Action in Voluntown, Connecticut; and over the years volunteering for many great groups until quite recently. She joined NWTRCC at our May 2011 gathering in Oakland and Berkeley. You’ll find her name on our history pages during World War Ⅱ. See a longer obituary on the Resource Center for Nonviolence website, which includes information about the memorial service also.
Photo by Ed Hedemann, 2011.
(Lancaster, Pa. — March 16, 2014) Conscientious objection to participation in or payment for war is not protected by the U.S. Constitution, according to Peter Goldberger, a leading constitutional law attorney and First Amendment litigator. But such objections may be protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), depending on how the Supreme Court rules in two cases challenging the birth control mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more…
The program was sponsored by 1040 for Peace.
The new version of the War Resisters League “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” flyer is available now, published in March 2014. The Spanish version should be available at that link by the end of March.
If you are confused about the ways different organizations analyze the federal budget and military spending, see “Pies, Graphs, and Income Taxes.”
There are lots of ’em. Many fly-by-night companies comb the public records for tax liens and then by mail or telephone offer to “help with your debt.” Some do their best to masquerade as the IRS, with official looking mailings or official sounding names. (Mailer and the inside made to mimic an IRS tax form.)
A call came recently to a war tax resister in New York from a man who said he was an agent from the “Investigation Bureau of the IRS.” The call sounded suspicious from the start (like from an overseas call center; the man began every sentence with an emphatic “Sir”), and the resister asked what state the man was calling from. When he answered “San Francisco” (the 51st state?), the resister asked what football team plays in San Francisco and the reply was “American or National?” When said IRS “investigator” was asked what would happen if he did not call that 415 number, he said “you will be arrested.” That is unusual talk for the IRS also, so our resister ended the call.
Another war tax resister reported receiving periodic messages from a company that offers to “reduce your tax debt.” She has never talked to anyone, but hitting the button that is supposed to “take you off the list” seems to have no effect. She noted that tax scam calls can be reported to the government by notifying the Treasury Inspector General at (800) 366‒4484.
If you are unsure a caller is really the IRS, take their number and try searching it on the internet, or call your local IRS office to ask about the number. The IRS would usually give a toll free number, so that might be one clue.
And if it is the IRS and you wonder what to do, feel free to contact a counselor in our network.
Here’s a link to a good Forbes Magazine article on this topic, “Tax Resolution Schemes Persist,” by Stephen Dunn.
Peter Reilly’s tax blog at Forbes online featured this story too.
“Application of Section 6702 Penalty to Taxpayer Who Files a Return with War Complaint” released by the Office of Chief Counsel of the IRS clarifies that a frivolous penalty does not apply when a letter is enclosed with an accurate 1040 form filing — a small victory for taxpayers who protest war! NWTRCC activists submitted a complaint to the Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) of the Taxpayer Advocate Service in 2011. The researcher on the case talked with war tax resisters who had filed an accurate 1040 and enclosed a letter protesting war taxes with their form. Some refused payment and others did not owe any tax, but in all cases they received notice of a $5,000 frivolous penalty. The new memo clarifies that enclosed a protest letter or letter of explanation for refusing to pay tax due does not subject the filer to the frivolous penalty.
if you believe that you were improperly assessed the penalty, send in a request for an abatement (Form 843) to the frivolous penalty program: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: FRP M/S 4450, 1973 N. Rulon White Blvd., Ogden, UT 84404.
David Hartsough spells out the whys and hows in What if they gave a war and nobody paid? And Kathy Labriola gives some options in War Tax Resistance 101. On March 19, the 10th year of war in Iraq, Francesca Fiorentini added up “60 Billion Reasons the War on Iraq was a Rotten Idea.” In addition, Dan Carpenter in Indianapolis responded to the IRS scandal about pulling out “tea party” and other groups for special scrutiny in 501(c)4 applications (later stories came out that the special treatment was wider than originally reported and included groups on the left also). See his article “IRS gives no favors to tax protestors on left either,” which puts war tax resisters in the frame also.
One day you stopped paying for war, and that was an important event in your life. Let your Facebook friends know about it — and maybe inspire them to make such an event part of their lives — by following the instructions on this page to add that event to your Facebook timeline.
Marilyn Langlois ran for City Council in Richmond, California, and had to respond to attacks about her war tax resistance. She posted a response on her website.
Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817. Untold numbers have been moved to resistance by his famous essay, “Civil Disobedience,” which was inspired by the night he spent in jail in July 1846 after refusing to pay poll taxes in protest against the Mexican War and the extension of slavery. You can read the essay online (y en español). Lawrence Rosenwald, a longtime war tax resister and Professor of English and of Peace and Justice Studies, wrote about the influence of Thoreau for him personally, and has analyzed Thoreau’s essay more thoroughly in “The Theory, Practice & Influence of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.” Wikipedia has a good biography of Thoreau with more links. War tax resister David Gross has collected some of Thoreau’s writings into two volumes, which can be ordered from his website (scroll down the books in the right column). Thoreau’s refusal to pay for war was one famous instance of civil disobedience, but his legacy continues. See NWTRCC’s teaching kit, Thoreau and His Heirs, for more details!