Click here to download an PDF of the February issue
Today I got out the notebooks and photos from my first trip to Palestine and Israel in 1988 at the time of the first intifada. I was on a human rights tour with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The goal was to show U.S. activists the view from occupation and for us to bring that information back home.
With Gaza under attack, that trip has been on my mind. In particular I wanted to look up my notes from a meeting with a lawyer (a young man then, but is he still alive?) at the Gaza Lawyers Association whose words led me to increase my war tax resistance.
"Watch your taxes. Don't kill the kids. Don't participate in this."
His three simple phrases ring all too true today. U.S. aid to Israel, along with all kinds of loans and weapons deals, allows the occupation to continue. I was truly horrified at seeing firsthand a military occupation and to get a taste of the daily humiliations that are an aspect of controlling a population. On a few occasions our group was also the target of stones thrown by Palestinian young people who saw us as the enemy.
Sometimes it seems that the cycle of violence has cycled around so many times that it might be impossible to find the way out. I just want to shout at all the soldiers and fighters, "STOP IT."
But there is always more to the story, and the U.S. desperation for a toe-hold in the Middle East is a powerful factor behind the intractable appearance of this conflict. When I came home after that trip in '88 I changed my W-4 in order to stop paying 100% of my federal income taxes. Up to that point I had been refusing a percentage of whatever was due, but I could no longer stomach supporting militarism by writing a check of any size to the U.S. government.
At the same time, I became more diligent at redirecting refused tax dollars to help victims of war, people working for peace, and other programs that serve humanity. Mine is such a small contribution given all the desperate needs around the world, but it is my way of shouting for change.
Does the government hear me? I think so, but they don't like to talk about tax resistance because they don't want more people to realize they can choose how their money is spent. And, it takes more than our separate voices to really force a change in priorities at the highest levels.
Whether your resistance, or consideration of war tax resistance, has been motivated by violence in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, or the lack of services here at home while the government builds more weapons, I hope that we can amplify our shouts through the 2009 War Tax Boycott and redirection. The longer the list of public signers to the Boycott, the louder that shout becomes.
Take a moment to go online and sign on now, or send in the enclosed form. While you're at it, why not ask the group you work with to become a sponsor of the Boycott and promote it to their membership? ?
To figure out how much you can earn in 2009 before owing income taxes, identify your category and multiply the personal exemption by the number of dependents you can claim, including yourself, then add your standard deduction. For example, if you are married and filing jointly, with two children, you would add $14,600 ($3,650 x 4) to $11,400, equaling a taxable level of $26,000. Below this amount your family would owe no income taxes for the year, although the filing requirements set the bar much lower because of social security taxes.
|Category||Standard Deduction||Personal Exemption|
|Married, filing jointly||$11,400||$3,650|
|Married, filing separately||$5,700||$3,650|
|Head of household||$8,350||$3,650|
NWTRCC's Practical #5, "Low Income/Simple Living as War Tax Resistance" ($1 from the NWTRCC office), also includes information on legal ways to reduce taxable income and owe no federal income taxes. You may be able to make significantly more than the amounts indicated above but would need to file to keep it legal.
The IRS has a handy chart that answers this question. The one-page document is online at irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1494.pdf or contact the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 for Publication 1494 (2009).
A few examples:
|Filing Status||Number of Exemptions||Pay Period|| Exempt Amount
(the amount you keep)
| Unmarried Head
|Married Filing Jointly||2||Biweekly||$578.85|
Sometimes bank fees can be beneficial. One WTR had left $22.58 in his checking account, fearing a levy but hoping to retain the account. When the levy arrived, the bank took $22 toward their usual $75 levy fee, left 58 cents in the account, and told the IRS that no money was available. Months later no further levies have been sent and the resister continues to use the account.
In another case a resister had 7 cents in a savings account and $9.67 in a checking account at the same bank. A levy arrived, and for the 21-day waiting period the accounts were shown "Pending hold." Then the bank transferred the 7 cents from savings to checking before clearing out the checking account of the total $9.74, which seemed to confirm that all one's assets at any single bank will be seized at once, up to the tax due amount.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (12/29/08), and thanks to Doug Mackenzie.
I had a funny experience on Thursday…..I went to pick up my mail at the post office, and there was a certified letter waiting for me. At first I was vaguely excited, thinking it might be something interesting, and then I remembered Uncle Sam. The postmistress was about to scan it when I said, "Wait a minute, who is it from? I might not want it." She showed it to me, and it had a big IRS label on the return address. I asked her, "I don't have to take it do I?" She allowed that I was
What struck me as funny in thinking about it later is that I was completely willing to stand up to the U.S. government with all its monstrous weapons and criminality, but I was afraid of the postmistress; if she told me I had to take it I probably would have. It's hard to get over this proclivity we have to do as we are told to do by an assumed external authority.
Thanks to Lincoln Rice for monitoring tax information and for some submissions. In addition, check out David Gross's blog for continuous musings and news related to war tax resistance: http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment
War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund
Palo Alto Quaker Meeting
and to BillRamsey and the St. Louis Covenant Community of War Tax Resisters for their scarf selling efforts to benefit NWTRCC. Please contact the NWTRCC office to take some scarves on consignment.
Please let the NWTRCC office know if you are interested in being a contact on our network list. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free 1-800-269-7464.
CPTI also invites you to explore the website at cpti.ws and consider becoming a Supporting Member. Modest dues of $25 per year will help to finance the website and keep the information flowing. In the United States or Canada, personal checks payable to PTF-CPTI may be sent to: Alan Gamble, CPTI Treasurer, 3100 Happy Valley Road, Jackson, MI 49203.
All are welcome to a joyous commemoration of the amazing and inspiring life of organic farmer, early civil rights worker, practitioner of active nonviolence, and longtime war tax resister par excellence, Wally Nelson (1909-2002). Potluck supper begins at 5:00 pm, followed by a presentation of Wally's life, words of "Bean Patch" wisdom from Juanita Nelson, live music, and
For more information, contact Eveline MacDougall (413-773-8655) or Randy Kehler (413-624-8858, email@example.com). Photo by Ed Hedemann.
One Hundred Miles from Home: Nuclear Contamination in the Communities of the Ohio River Valley covers the history of six nuclear installations from the Cold War era that are still causing environmental and health problems today. The book was written by Carol Rainey, an anti-nuclear activist from Cincinnati who dedicates it in part to her friend and WTR legend Marion Bromley. Wendell Berry wrote the Foreword. Available for $19 (includes postage) from Cyndell Press, 1497 Beacon St., Cincinnati, OH 45230, cyndellpress.com.
Don Kaufman (KS) recently sent this note: "As of yesterday I have completed reading David M. Gross's magnificent tax resistance reader titled We Won't Pay! Yes, I read all 566 pages. It is an amazing resource for historical information on conscience, dissent, government, militarism, nonviolence, patriotism, peacemaking, religious freedom, responsibility, revenue refusal, tax redirection, truth, violence, and war. The challenge now is for us to find readers who will dedicate time to read and digest material which will make a difference in our daily living." Available from http://createspace.com/3339658 or Amazon.com. David Gross is
Our "Foreclose on War" scarves will not sell sitting in boxes in Brooklyn, Chicago, and St. Louis. We need everyone who supports NWTRCC to stock scarves and take them to events. We have found that they sell best at indoor events, when a speaker or MC announces their availability. We sold the most scarves at Camp Hope in Chicago during an evening forum in which the speaker wore a
Our best sales person in St. Louis is SLCCWTR member Hedy Epstein. She speaks around the country on the Israel/Palestine conflict and sells scarves as she goes. She even sold five in Texas. Joanne Sheehan took scarves to the People's Music Network gathering in January in New England. Dawn Rubbert, another SLCCWTR member, sold scarves at the St. Louis Friends Meeting. Portland (OR) Community of WTRs took 15 to sell at local events.
The scarves are seasonal. They are not likely to sell well after February 15, so please look at the calendar of events in your area and contact the NWTRCC office to get some scarves to sell. If each of us can wear a scarf and carry a backpack with five or six more to sell as we move around in meetings and events, we can spread a strong message and help balance the NWTRCC budget.
We have about 400 scarves in boxes. It would only take 40 NWTRCC friends selling 10 scarves each over the next two weeks to empty those boxes. Can you help us get them out of the boxes and over the shoulders of people around the country?
Order scarves from the NWTRCC office,1-800-269-7464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boycott palm cards are available from the NWTRCC office. We should be able to circulate thousands of these cards between now and tax day! If you can help cover the costs, cards are 3 cents each plus postage (up to 500 fit in a priority mail envelope for $4.95) or contact the office.
Order from NWTRCC, PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY11215 or call 1-800-269-7464. Website orders can be paid through Paypal with credit card or bank account debit. See http://www.nwtrcc.org/publications.htm.
Published by Cascadia Publishing and The Peace Tax Foundation, April 2009
This collection of essays by Marian Franz spans her 23 years of lobbying Congress to enact the Peace Tax Fund Bill. Eight additional chapters by her colleagues add complementary information on topics such as international human rights, the history of conscientious objection in the U.S., and war tax resistance, along with memories of Franz who died in November 2006.
Orders received by March 31, 2009, will receive a 10% discount and free media mail shipping in the U.S.
For advanced orders contact: Cascadia Publishing, 126 Klingerman Road, Telford PA 18969, 215-723-9125, or download the order form at http://www.cascadiapublishinghouse.com/apv/apv.htm
The time commitment involves the weekend meetings and two conference calls each year. The AdComm meets the full day Friday before the weekend gathering. Between meetings there are occasional emails, and we ask some willingness to volunteer for an extra project according to interest and availability. Qualifications include an interest in being part of NWTRCC's decision-making structure and a desire to help promote NWTRCC. Diversity considerations (geographic, gender, ethnic, etc.) are involved in selecting new members. You can expect great people to meet and work with and the pleasure of contributing to the smooth-running of the organization.
Current members are Robert Randall (GA)*, Pam Allee (OR)*, Donald Kaufman (KS), Mike Butler (NM), Melissa Jameson, (NY), and David Gross (CA).
Self nominations are fine, and affiliate groups should make
a special effort to offer nominations. Contact NWTRCC for a
job description, or send in nominations and we will follow up
with further details. Deadline for nominations is March 13,
*Terms ending in May
Therefore, the May Coordinating Committee meeting and gathering will include time for a thorough airing of opinions about the bill and NWTRCC's endorsement. In addition, the April issue of More Than A Paycheck will include perspectives on the Peace Tax Fund bill and campaign. Feel free to send in your short comments (or contact the Editor, Ruth Benn, if you have a great deal to say and we'll see what we can fit). MTAP, PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215 or email@example.com.
You can read about the campaign and also the text of the bill at peacetaxfund.org or contact the campaign for sample literature at 1-888-PEACE-TAX.
Sometimes nasty results come from seemingly simple positive actions. That was our situation recently. As first-time war tax protesters, my wife Kate and I signed on to support the 2008 War Tax Boycott and withheld a symbolic $50.00. This small token was forwarded to Direct Aid Initiative, towards medical needs of Iraqi refugees in Jordan. We dutifully enclosed a letter of explanation as to our actions. At most we expected to receive a chastising letter from the IRS, a small penalty, and a demand to pay the tardy amount.
Imagine our surprise when four months later we received a letter from the IRS, threatening each of us with a $5,000 penalty for filing a frivolous tax return. The letter went on to state that any further action on our part would cause an additional $5,000 fine for each of us, without further notice or reason. After shaking off the initial shock and consulting with fellow WTR colleagues, we learned that this IRS tactic was new to all of them. We decided to pay the late amount and did so, within the time period specified. Thinking the matter had come to a logical conclusion, we felt able to shift our gears and to think of how next to act as war tax resisters.
Not so! Four months later, we received dual letters in the mail from the IRS, this time informing us that we each had been issued a penalty of $5,000, payable in 13 days. This from our beneficent government! Disbelief both at the gross inefficient workings (we had paid!) and malignance ($5,000 fine for a $50.00 withholding???!!!) of the IRS prevailed in our hearts. We were stunned. Thought of retaining legal counsel began.
On the good advice of fellow resisters, we contacted our local Congressman's office, explained the whole story, and they went into action with lightning speed. Through their auspices, we faxed copies of all of our IRS correspondence and paperwork to the IRS Legislative Advocates, both in our home state and in Washington, DC. In a matter of two weeks, we had a preliminary abatement, and in another three weeks we received formal letters from the IRS CREDITING us with the amount of $10,000 on our case! There was no apology (had we really expected them to do so?) nor was there ANY explanation. Our relief was palpable.
Finally, we received another letter from the IRS, billing us a more rational $54.00, late fee for the money that was withheld. That we will pay! Hopefully with the payment of this fee our inaugural action with NWTRCC will be culminated. Oh boy! What shall we do for resistance excitement next year?!
—John and Kate Parrish are active with Eugene Taxes for Life!, which has supported them during their "frivolous" ordeal. For more information see nwtrcc.org/frivolous.htm or the December 2008 issue of this newsletter.
Editor's Note: This piece was forwarded to NWTRCC from Proyecto Paz and is online at rense.com/general84/mahr.htm. It's rather risky to run a piece written by a former head of state. We probably have many areas of disagreement. However, it seemed to offer a good list of war tax resister-like demands. Perhaps readers will respond with their own ideas and thoughts on what it will take to get to a better world and whether our organizing needs a new approach under this new administration.
Dear Mr. President,
I did not vote for you in the Presidential Election because I am Malaysian.
But I consider myself one of your constituents because what you do or say will affect me and my country as well.
I welcome your promise for change. Certainly your country, the United States of America needs a lot of changes.
That is because America and Americans have become the best hated people in the world. Even Europeans dislike your arrogance. Yet you were once admired and liked because you freed a lot of countries from conquest and subjugation.
It is the custom on New Year's day for people to make resolutions. You must have listed your good resolutions already. But may I politely suggest that you also resolve to do the following in pursuit of Change.
I have many other resolutions for change which I think you should consider and undertake.
But I think you have enough on your plate for this 2009th year of the Christian Era.
If you can do only a few of what I suggest, you will be remembered by the world as a great leader. Then the United States will again be the most admired nation. Your embassies will be able to take down the high fences and razor-wire coils that surround them.
May I wish you a Happy New Year and a great Presidency.
January 2, 2009