“Friends, I’m home
when I’m with war tax resisters,” said Wallace Collett, who was one of the longtime
resisters honored during NWTRCC’s November gathering in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Wallace and his late wife Carrie began their war tax resistance in 1983, redirecting
the military portion of their income tax to Quaker organizations and having an
immediate run-in with the IRS over the assessment of a $500 frivolous fine. Wallace,
who turned 90 in November, served for many years as chairman of the American Friends
Service Committee, was on the board of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund,
and has been a good friend to NWTRCC over the years. Some of his thoughts on war
tax resistance can be found in the Handbook on Military Taxes and Conscience
published by the Friends Committee on War Tax Concerns (1988, available from NWTRCC).
In addition, Wallace has authored a book, McCarthyism in Cincinnati: The Bettman-Collett
Affair, about a formative incident in his life. Asked about the ordeal by
a book reviewer, he said: “I learned a lot about human nature. And, in the end,
I learned that truth will overcome lies.”
Speaking truth to power has been
the undercurrent of Robin Harper’s years as a war tax resister. Since Robin began
his resistance in 1958, he has had many opportunities to present his deeply held
convictions to IRS agents, federal court judges, tax court judges, along with
friends, co-resisters, and family members. Of one four-hour meeting with IRS agents
Robin said, “We established complete agreement on the figures and complete disagreement
that I should pay the IRS.” Robin was a Korean War conscientious objector and,
after four years of taxpaying, the contradiction of paying for war became too
troubling to continue. He has found his support community through war tax resisters
connected to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and he is a co-chair of PYM’s Working
Group on Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns. He’s been a supporter of
all the permutations of the national war tax resistance network over the decades
and has generously provided his expertise and support to NWTRCC since its founding
in 1982. Robin’s story appears in the War Resisters League book, War Tax Resistance.
Other longtime resisters who were recognized but could not attend the gathering
included George and Lillian Willoughby, Quaker activists who celebrated their
90th birthdays in November with a grand party and fundraiser for Training
for Change in Philadelphia.
All of us are grateful for the commitment
and example of each of these dedicated war resisters and activists for peace
and social change.
Who refuses to war?
Excerpted from "Who
Wants to War?" by Wallace Collett, 1984
- Only a few,
- Those who will not kill their brother,
Those who will follow the inward
Those who accept derision and prison.
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Counselor's Workshop SummarizedListed
here are a few tips gleaned from the Counselor’s Workshop led by Peter Goldberger
and Ruth Benn at the recent NWTRCC gathering.
- Know the resources available
from NWTRCC, the IRS, on the web, and from other organizations. Re-read them occasionally
and watch these “Counseling Notes” for updates.
- As counselors we are
nondirective, offering options, laying out the various arguments and consequences,
but not telling people what to do.
- Respond to questions as quickly
as possible. People interested or involved in war tax resistance are generally
anxious about the consequences and often just need reassurance. Even just calling
to say “I don’t have time right now but I’ll call you back,” is important contact.
- One suggestion for dealing with fear: Walk the person through their worst-case
scenario and then work backwards to the likelihood of that happening.
- On picking up certified letters from the IRS: As a lawyer, Peter doesn’t
see any reason to not pick up the letters. Legally it makes no difference,
since the IRS’s only obligation is to send the letter to the best known address;
saying that you didn’t see it doesn’t usually delay any procedures. On the other
hand, there is a benefit to showing that a particular notice was not sent,
so tracking all mail from the IRS could be helpful. Others are less inclined to
cooperate with any aspect of IRS collection (or have seen most of the letters
before) and thus do not feel a need to pick them up or sign for them.
- Student financial aid: Information for wtr’s is still being collected, but
one tip for nonfilers is to fill out 1040s every year and keep the documentation
even if you don’t file it with the IRS. If you need this information down the
road to prove your level of income these forms could come in handy. Seek financial
aid options outside of the federal system.
- Non-citizens: We are seeking
more information on this. Peter noted that conviction for a tax crime under $30,000
is not a deportable offense, but we don’t know if there are other ramifications.
Contact the NWTRCC office if you have information on this. We hope to write a
legal brief in the coming months.
- Social Security seizures: Individuals
having 15% deducted from their social security payments can also have their bank
account seized, even if the funds are 100% from social security. The 15% limitation
does not protect the money once it is received. An open question: are all social
security payments by direct deposit now or can one still request it by check?
Let the NWTRCC office know if you have more information or ideas on
any of these topics.For
those who have looked for the Hang Up On War website, we apologize for its temporary
disappearance. This had to do with a server crash, but we have shifted the pages
to the NWTRCC server. You can find HUOW at www.nwtrcc.org; click on Projects and Campaigns
and then “telephone tax,” or maybe by the time you read this it will also show
up at its original address, www.hanguponwar.org.
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appreciation to all the groups who have given to NWTRCC since the last newsletter.
Your support maked a difference!
New Englandd War Tax Resistance
formerly of Maine and now living in North Carolina, volunteered to be our first-ever
Fundraising Clerk at NWTRCC’s recent meetings. He’ll be helping to create a fundraising
plan and give our efforts in this area a boost. Some of you may be hearing from
him in the coming months. The November fund appeal should have arrived in your
mailbox recently. Thank you for your support both monetary and active!
to List of Headlines] If
you or your group are interested in joining the NWTRCC network by being an area
contact, counselor, or affiliate, please contact the NTWRCC office. We will send
you an outline of what is expected and the benefits of being listed with us. Thanks!
[Return to List of Headlines]
Reasons for Hope: International Conference Report (Part II)
by Daniel Woodham
This is a follow-up article to the report of the
conference in the August 2004 MTAP, with exciting tidbits from movements in other
countries that were not included last time.
Sometimes events come along
that inspire and bring optimism to the everyday normalcy of life.
talking about the results of our recent national elections!
Rather, I hope
to impart what caused me to have this sort of elation at last summer’s International
Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns (WTR/PTCs) in Brussels,
First of all, a wake up call: It seems the rest of the world is wondering
what we are doing in the USA with Bush in office and the seeming complacency with
the administration’s policy of preemptive strikes. Some of these voices can be
heard in an interview project on the web entitled: “Messages: USA to the World”
and “The World to the USA,” at www.wrlpdx.org/messages.
The conference theme of increasing international collaboration was mentioned
in the last article, especially linking WTR/PTCs with the “antiglobalist” or anti-free
trade movements. Many think now is the time to increase the visibility of withholding
taxes for militarism at protests during the conferences for the WTO, G7, FTAA,
Many, however, believe this is not enough. There are those who propose
more active stances for nonviolence. For example, Conscience Canada proposed an
international project that is an attempt to “generate wider public discussions
about the concrete alternatives to war and traditional military defense” and examining
new models of security. This was chosen as the international project by the conference,
and there is more information at www.consciencecanada.ca.
Peaceful resistance to military support is also being worked on by Conscience
and Peace Tax International (CPTI) in its attempts to get nonviolent stands of
conscience recognized by the United Nations. They participate regularly in hearings
at the UN Commission on Human Rights. CPTI is also working to get the European
Economic Community to recognize conscientious objection to paying for war. See
more details on their work.
The delegation from Ghana spoke of the Youth
Peacekeeping Organization started by their Mennonite Church, which seeks to empower
refugee youth with some trade skills to better find employment and stay away from
crime. Another delegate from Ghana spoke of her “Voices of African Mothers” project
( www.vamothers.org) that promotes conflict
resolution and helps women engage in dialogues on peace building and women’s advocacy.
Esquivia Ballestas, delegate from Colombia, is a very inspiring man who opened
my eyes to the realities of “Plan Colombia,” another sinkhole for death and destruction
that comes from U.S. tax dollars. So much more than “a war on drugs,” the U.S.
subsidizes the civil war that is raging between the national army, the paramilitary,
and several guerrilla groups, with the rural poor as the principal victims. Ricardo
sits at the negotiation table with these groups, and he seeks to put on a widely
publicized WTR conference in Colombia to help take away the culture of war. Please
contact me if you are interested in helping to organize this.
In the Netherlands
PTC people have also started a program following the model of the “Clean Footprint”
initiative that seeks to raise consciousness about living cleanly on the earth.
Titled the “Clean Handshake” campaign, they are trying to raise awareness on how
various consumer goods are produced in conflict zones around the globe, such as
some cellular phones made of materials from conflict areas.
Here are a
few more snapshots from the conference to conclude:
- One group handed
out a flyer asking people to boycott the following corporate sponsors of the Bush
administration: Kraft, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Pepsi, Coca Cola, and McDonald’s.
- In Germany a PTC case has gone to the highest court.
- Soon a listserve
connected to the CPTI website will enable anyone to network with WTRs from around
the world. Sign up by sending an email to email@example.com.
- The best
antiwar exhibit I’ve ever seen was the “In Flanders Fields” museum in Ypres, where
we toured the famous, bloodiest battlefields of World War I and the earth pushes
up old war relics to this day.
Copies of the conference report are
available online at http://cpti.ws/conf/04/04.html or contact
NWTRCC about receiving a photocopy of the report for a small fee.
located in Greensboro, NC, Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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in SwarthmoreSwarthmore College, with its historic Quaker roots, was a perfect
setting for the November 5-7 NWTRCC gathering and Coordinating Committee Meeting.
The weekend program was planned and hosted by the Working Group on Conscience,
Militarism, and War Tax Concerns of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) and held
at the Swarthmore Friends Meeting located right on the campus.
program featured longtime war tax resister, Philadelphia WRL activist, and actor
Steve Gulick who spoke about the value of using street theatre with our organizing
efforts. Some of his tips appear below. He made us all instant actors by giving
out sets of props with which to create skits. Creativity abounds in NWTRCC!
basic war tax resistance and counseling workshops on Saturday morning most out-of-town
attendees trekked across campus for a special visit to the Swarthmore College
Peace Collection (www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace) housed in the campus library.
Many of the big national peace organizations have archives at Swarthmore, along
with individuals including Jane Addams, A. J. Muste, and Mildred Scott Olmstead.
NWTRCC sends its papers to the collection, and visitors left feeling much more
connected to this important resource.
Three panels in the afternoon covered
the Peace Tax Fund Campaign, a report from the July 2004 International Conference
on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns, and updates on legal cases with
Philadelphia-based lawyer Peter Goldberger. Suzanne Day and Stevik Kretzmann updated
us on the U.S. Peace Tax Campaign and some of the developing plans. They role-played
a lobbying session to encourage others to get involved.
represented NWTRCC at the international conference (articles Aug. 2004 More
Than A Paycheck and in this issue), and Lyle Jenks represented PYM. After
telling stories from workshops and presentations, Lyle spoke about the moving
experience of the visit to Flanders Fields organized by the hosts in Belgium.
The area is the site of a terrible battle in the spring of 1915, which inspired
the poem “In Flanders Fields” by the Canadian army physician John McCrae.
Goldberger and Priscilla Adams then spoke about the tax court cases in which they
have been involved, and the June 2004 decision against PYM related to Priscilla’s
war tax resistance (see related story in this issue). In addition,
we were joined by members of the Restored Israel of Yahweh community in southern
New Jersey who are faced with criminal charges, including conspiracy, for their
conscientious resistance to paying for war (MTAP, June 2004). We agreed
to help with publicity, attend the trial if possible, and write letters of support
On Saturday night Peter Goldberger gave the keynote address.
He spoke about his early influence as a draft counselor and found that those techniques
transferred well to war tax resistance when he found himself called on for advice
over the years. He credited Vicki Metcalf with translating tax rules into understandable
language for war tax resisters and joined her in working on the first counseling
manual written for the wtr movement. Today he sees the Bush Administration calling
their endless pursuit of terrorists “war,” because during wartime they can justify
any kind of policy, with the current Attorney General nominee calling the Geneva
Accords “quaint” and the repression of civil liberties.
On the more hopeful
side, Peter noted two recent court decisions that are heartening. In October 2004,
the Ninth Circuit Court (CA, OR, WA, AK, HI) ruled that the government’s “free
speech” zone during a demonstration in San Francisco was a repression of the right
of assembly, and the Eleventh Circuit (GA, FL, AL) ruled that the local police
cannot search everyone attending a School of the Americas Watch demonstration.
“While the government is getting away with a lot, I’m not in utter despair after
seeing some of these good signs,” said Peter.
Coordinating Committee’s business meeting was attended by nineteen people representing
about twelve different states and groups from California, Oregon, Washington,
DC, North Carolina, South Bend, IN, and Philadelphia, PA. We agreed to produce
a flyer for student outreach and a returnable protest/resistance form for use
during the 2005 tax season and to distribute the war tax resistance exhibit created
by members of Pioneer Valley (MA) War Tax Resistance (see pages 4-5). We will
add a page on our website requesting donations with the possibility of setting
up a Paypal account for people who want to pay online.
Get out your 2005 calendars
and note the upcoming NWTRCC gatherings: first weekend of May in Nashville, TN,
hosted by Nashville Greenlands, and fall 2005 (possibly in October) in New York
City. The latter is to be a larger strategizing meeting, and we hope that all
of our groups will send representatives to the gathering to help review and discuss
“where we’ve been, where we want to go, and how we will get there.” Travel subsidies
are available for the fall gathering.
The November meeting passes the budget
for the next fiscal year (December 1 – November 30), which is at $32,920 for 2005.
We also approved objectives for the coming year, including standard items like
producing the newsletter, keeping up with legal information, and publicizing tax
day activities, and we added an increased effort at student outreach, sending
representatives to the February United for Peace and Justice conference, and seeking
interns for the Brooklyn office. If you would like to see minutes from the meeting,
please ask for a copy from the NWTRCC office.
NWTRCC’s Administrative Committee (AdCom) seeks 2 new members
March 11, 2005
Schedule: New alternate members will be selected at
the May 2005 meeting; terms start after the meeting.
1 year as alternate plus 2 years as full member
Costs: Travel is
paid for full members or alternates filling in for full member
Great people to work with; pleasure of contributing to the smooth-running of the
NWTRCC network; travel to fun places and meet interesting people
commitment: AdCom meetings are the full day Friday before the weekend gathering,
occasional emails and phone calls during the year, and some willingness to volunteer
for an extra project according to interest and availability.
Interest in being part of NWTRCC’s decision-making structure; willingness to attend
two meetings during the year; desire to help promote NWTRCC; geographic and gender
considerations determined by current committee make-up
Rick Bickhart* (NM), Peter Smith* (IN), Lincoln Rice (WI), Eszter Freeman (CA),
Cicada LaFey (NC), Linda Holtzbaur (NY)
Please contact the office for a
job description, or send in nominations and we will follow up with further details.
Affiliate groups should make a special effort to offer nominations.
members complete their terms in May.
to List of Headlines]
Outreach Flyer“Students and War” is the title of our latest flyer, and it’s
available free as a download from the NWTRCC website at http://www.nwtrcc.org/latest.htm or
call the NWTRCC office for a copy (most readers should have received the flyer
in our November mailing).
Camera Ready Ads Please use NWTRCC ads in your
publications! Various options are available through a link on our website at:
to List of Headlines] -->
CMTC Grants AnnouncedThe Nonviolence Action
Community of Cascadia in Seattle recently announced recipients of their 2004 Conscience
and Military Tax Campaign (CMTC) Escrow Account grants.
This year 21 applicants
requested a total of $36,135, from which nine organizations were given grants
totaling $7,000. The choices were exceedingly difficult to make, and NACC members
wished that funds allowed every organization grants for the full amount requested.
The 2004 awardees are:
Austin Conscientious Objection to Military
Taxation, Austin: $500 to continue educating and lobbying representatives
to support the Peace Tax Fund bill.
Casa Maria Catholic Worker House,
Milwaukee: $300 to help the children of house residents learn about and sell fair
trade chocolate, with proceeds going to three international groups (chosen by
the youth) and a portion as earnings for their work.
Columbia River Fellowship
for Peace, Hood River, Oregon: $1,500 to increase counter recruitment efforts
in area high schools and the number of students who opt out from letting the school
give recruiters their contact information.
Olympia-Rafah Sister City
Project, Olympia: $500 to help further the establishment of the sister city
relations begun by Olympia resident Rachel Corrie (killed while protecting a home
Palestine Solidarity Committee, Seattle: $300 to
fund an increased education and outreach effort throughout Washington state about
justice for Palestinians, and the creation of a response network on media and
Peace and Justice of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa:
$1,500 to continue counter recruitment work and translate all outreach materials.
Express, Ithaca: $500 to help fund a books-to-prisoners project, and also
soliciting creative work from prisoners.
Student Environment Action Coalition,
Philadelphia: $1,500 to continue the Militarism and the Environment campaign on
college campuses, educating and organizing around the large impact that U.S. militarism
has on the environment.
Swadhina, Calcutta, India, $400 to help fund
a multifaceted effort to reduce domestic violence and social violence in a context
of empowerment and nonviolence.
This information and guidelines for grant
applications are available on their website, http://seanacc.org By Gregory Barnes, Central Philadelphia
Reprinted from PYM News, September/October 2004
June 21, 2004, federal court decision requiring Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM)
to pay ten years’ back taxes of employee and war tax resister Priscilla Adams
held as much good news as bad for the Quaker community. The ruling means PYM must
remit about $40,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (and Priscilla would then
reimburse PYM); however, the court said PYM need not pay the 50% penalty demanded
by the IRS.
In a nuanced decision, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell acknowledged
that PYM raised legitimate questions, under the 1994 Religious Freedom Restoration
Act (RFRA), concerning the burden IRS placed on the Yearly Meeting to abandon
core Quaker beliefs when it ordered PYM to garnish Priscilla’s wages for the taxes
she had refused to pay as a matter of conscientious objection to war. After PYM
refused to honor an IRS levy on Priscilla’s wages, the IRS filed suit last year
to make PYM directly liable for her unpaid taxes.
PYM’s Interim Meeting on
June 24 agreed not to appeal the decision but to remit the appropriate amount
of tax money to IRS. Further, it decided to review PYM’s policy on support for
war tax resisters, which was adopted in 1988, because among the positive outcomes
of the case were suggestions from the court as to conditions under which the RFRA
might better protect future war tax resisters.
In his memorandum to Interim
Meeting about the court decision, PYM General Secretary Thom Jeavons noted that,
“we have established that the RFRA does apply to the IRS’s conduct in dealing
with an organization like our own, and that it might provide the basis for a successful
future case for a special accommodation for our policy supporting employees who
are conscientious war tax refusers.”
New WTR Exhibit Available to All Peace
GroupsBy Ginny Schneider and Stephen Snow-Cobb
Juanita Nelson was
attending one of the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resister’s (PVWTR) meetings more than
four years ago when she suggested that the group create an exhibit about war tax
resistance. A couple of other innocent members of PVWTR volunteered to work with
her. Little did they know it would lead them on a four-year odyssey into the twisted
world of the computer age. Since Juanita is a luddite (not to label her or anything),
she stuck to the editorial side of the project. The others delved into Quark Express,
Adobe Photoshop, MGI Photosuite, pdfs, jpgs, tifs, bitmaps and scanners.
started on the computer of a local cable access station, which kept moving the
exhibit from computer to computer. It was interesting searching for it each week…sort
of like cat and mouse or hide and seek. Finally, Steve Snow-Cobb raised the flag
of surrender and upgraded his computer equipment at home. The trials and tribulations
didn’t end there. The files were either too big, too small, too fuzzy or the graphics
not to be found
Hours and hours were spent formatting, sweating, freezing,
looking for files as they disappeared into the ether, scanning, cooking (Steve
kept Ginny Schneider going with great organic food and lots of decadent coffee
concoctions), looking for new software as we maxed out old ones, and requesting
graphics from across the country.
So what finally happened? A deadline appeared
after four years of struggle and a case of carpal tunnel. Ginny was moving to
Mexico. So, the group pressed fast forward with others jumping in. Numerous PVWTR
members pitched in with proofing, purchasing shipping tubes, transporting the
exhibit to NWTRCC’s office in New York City and funding the initial printing costs.
what have we got? A great organizing tool available to any group that would like
to use. The National War Tax Resistance exhibit consists of six posters measuring
22” x 34” each, which can be mounted on foam core. One panel depicts war tax resistance
around the world. The other five are a timeline of war tax resistance from 400
BCE to 2000. Most of the material in the exhibit is from War Tax Resistance:
A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military published by the War
Resisters League. The exhibit’s large format and graphics make it a perfect tool
to use at peace events. Moreover, it can be displayed in a variety of venues such
as libraries, school, shopping centers, food coops, your office or a decorative
piece for your home. A fee of $30 is being charged to cover printing, shipping
and handling. The exhibit is sure to make your events and anti-war organizing
work more visible.
for photos of the posters, and order now while supplies last! Contact NWTRCC at
email@example.com or 1-800-269-7464.
Increasing Interest in War Tax Resistance By Ed Hedemann
late May, after changing Web servers, the NWTRCC website was averaging a little
under 100 visitors a day (we’ve observed that there about 10 “hits” for every
“visit”*). However in October, the number of visits began a steady rise that escalated
to about 150 visitors a day by November. One possible explanation is the realization
that because voting against the current regime didn’t work an escalation in tactics
is called for.
Visits - More or less equivalent to individual visitors to
the site, but if the same person looks at the site every day, each of those looks
is a “visit.”
Hits - A visitor requesting a web page including two
images registers as three hits on the server. While the volume of hits is an indicator
of web server traffic, it is not an accurate reflection of individual visitors.
Thus, our graph reflects visits and shows a positive trend.
to List of Headlines] Steve Gulick
has been active with Philadelphia WTR/WRL (now Philadelphia WRL) for more than
20 years and works as much as possible as a freelance actor, the PeaceMeal Player.
He brought his expertise to the NWTRCC gathering in Swarthmore to encourage us
to use street theatre to enliven and expand our outreach and educational efforts.
Here are some tips for effective presentations, and some pictures from the NWTRCC
files for inspiration. Note: To see the pictures, you will have to download the
PDF version of the newsletter.
- Use street theatre to provide fun,
entertainment, and defuse tension; explore issues in a safe environment (“real”
behavior in imaginary circumstances); get across a central point and point of
- Rehearse as much as you can ahead of time.
- Try to
be ready to go as soon as you are in position. Lots of set up time can create
missed opportunities. While you get ready try to have at least one person who
can relate to passers-by, hand out flyers, invite people back for the “show.”
- Be visible and “attractive”: have some signs with the main message, have interesting
props or set pieces, costumes, perhaps larger than life pieces and/or masks—just
so long as the masks don’t interfere with actors’ voices.
- Have a
few “opening acts” or audience warmer uppers that you can use to begin to draw
- Make the point and repeat the point, because people don’t
- Link the message with something memorable — a tune, visual,
- It may be hard for the audience to see and hear you, so
make that as easy as you can. Play out to the audience.
- If you finish
your skit and the audience still seems to be hanging around, you might want to
have a secondary skit or some songs to continue with, or all the actors might
join the outreach people and talk one-on-one, hand out flyers, etc.
[Return to List of Headlines]
An Open LetterApril 2003
I am deeply ashamed to say that, in spite of my efforts, I have once again
engaged in murder and wanton destruction: Not only have I paid my federal taxes
for 2003, but I have even given the agencies of war a free loan for $333.64.
if I possessed the gift of eloquence, I do not think mere words could express
how appalled I am, how sorrowful, how angry and how desperate I now am at the
failure of my elected officials to listen to me and millions of people across
the entire planet when we say: “STOP WAR NOW.”
It is my responsibility,
under the terms of Nuremberg and my Christian heritage, to do all I can to resist
participation in immoral and unlawful acts, including illegal occupations, state-sponsored
terrorism and violence in its myriad forms.
The occupation and destruction
of, and terrorist tactics used against, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are only
a few of the reasons why I am determined to redirect my federal taxes to life-affirming
organizations and activities in 2004.
When public education is properly
funded, when all people of this country have health care and housing, when Congress
no longer wears a “Sold” sign, when we stop creating the sources of terrorism
and begin humbling ourselves before the world’s great need for our moderation,
when we once more live in a lawful society with a Bill of Rights – then I will
no longer be ashamed to have paid taxes.
I do believe in and will always
participate in giving my time and money for the good of the community. War does
not fit that description.
With the support
of NWTRCC affiliate, Oregon Community for War Tax Resisters, Pam is taking steps
to “hang up on war.
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