We’re blogging WTR stories and info. Check out War Tax Talk.
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 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.”
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. Dr. Olejak will write about his resistance for our April/May 2014 newsletter. He is currently serving 26 weekends in the Columbia County (NY) Jail and agreed to pay back taxes. An article by him and about the case will be in the April/May issue of our newsletter.
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.
“It’s better to light up a few IRS forms, than to curse the darkness of war,” proclaimed Lyn Chabot, Michael McCarthy, Jesse Castillo, and Ande McCarthy on July 3 on a public green in Port Huron, Michigan. They declared “Independence from War Tax Day — Check your W-4 on July 4th to Convert War Tax to Peace Tax April 15th.” Click here for photos and the full story. If you have a similar, creative action idea for talking about war taxes on days other than tax day email us!.
A few recent online postings help answer that question. 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.
The Department of Justice/IRS has withdrawn the summons it issued to Cindy Sheehan and declared the action moot. She even has this in writing! Congratulations to Cindy for fighting the good fight — and winning for once. Listen to stories from war tax resisters on Cindy Sheehan’s Janary 15 program, “War Tax Resistance is Courage” or follow these links to her writings about her case:
See photos and reports from the February 2013 International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns in Bogotá, Colombia. The British group Conscience has a conference blog posted online 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.
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. You can learn more about their action at the links below. Hundreds or thousands of individuals came to war tax resistance specifically because of the nuclear weapons issue. In the early 1980s the antinuclear movement was growing and visible, to the point that Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle was moved to say, “I think the teaching of Jesus tells us to render to a nuclear-arms Caesar what that Caesar deserves, tax resistance” and followed it up with his own resistance. For more information see their website: Transform Now Plowshares.
More on this and other protest and how to support activists: The Nuclear Resister: Nonviolent Resistance for a Peaceful and Nuclear Free Future
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.
Excellent to see a new article about war tax resistance posted on the Mint Press News site — Going Against The Law To Protest Criminal Acts: War Tax Resisters And The Rebellious Spirit.
Our colleagues and friends Linda Grahem Peachy (page 2) and Susan Miller (page 4) were both chosen for honor and profiles in the March/April 2012 issue (large PDF) of timbrel, the magaine of Mennonite Women USA.
“We must protect conscience from war,” writes Duane Shank on the Sojourners blog. The article includes links to the H.R. 1191, introduced into Congress by Rep. John Lewis (Ga.).
A video of San Francisco attorney J. Tony Serra’s talk at the May 2011 war tax resistance gathering in Oakland.
“The other tea partiers: antiwar tax resisters,” by Steven Short for the Crosscurrents news magazine show on KALW.
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!