Click here to download an Acrobat PDF of the April issue
While cities and states are cutting services, hunger is on the rise in the U.S. and around the world, more people are without homes, the federal deficit is growing...
In addition, it's impossible to put into words the awful truth of the thousands of civilians and soldiers killed and injured in wars based on lies or grandiose and empty promises of making the world safer. Each soldier killed makes their buddies want revenge; each civilian killed by U.S. bombs turns another family member against the U.S. The cycle of violence keeps turning. Or is it the spiral of violence - spiraling out of control? All these are good reasons to get out on (or before) tax day to protest the obscene and increasing military budget. See the action list below, but if there's not an action in your area, there are one trillion reasons or more to order some flyers (like the pie chart enclosed) and head out to a busy corner to act on your outrage.
Make sure your action is added to the web list; send an email with the who, what, when, where to email@example.com or call the NWTRCC office toll free at 1-800-269-7464.
Colorado Springs - Citizens for Peace in Space and friends. Leafleting with tax pie charts and other information at the Post Office. Time: noon.
Evanston - Neighbors for Peace and the North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice. Leaflet with WRL flyers at the Main Post Office on Davis and Oak (60201). 8 am - 6 pm. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rockland County, New City - Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice. Vigil "No More Tax Dollars for Wars!" We will hold a giant check showing the war cost so far. We will also hand out green checks showing both the total amount of war cost and the share for each Rockland family. Rockland County Courthouse steps, 1 S. Main St. 11:30 am - 12:30 pm. See rocklandaction.org.
Olympia - Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation. Hand out WRL's tax pie chart flyers at the downtown post office at several times throughout the day. Contact: email@example.com.
Park Falls - Corner of Hwy. 13 and County Rd. E. 9:30 - 10:30 am. Silent vigil to remember all the dead due to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; signs asking people to stop paying for death and destruction by giving their money to the US military. Contact: Don Timmerman and Roberta Thurstin at (715) 762-8239.
David has more analysis on his blog at sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=22Mar10, and perhaps in some of his more recent entries.
If you have comments about the bill and its relation to war tax resistance, we can expand on this topic in a future issue.
If your check is direct deposited into an account that is in someone else's name (assuming this is allowed for SS payments), it is not impossible that the IRS would at some point take steps to seize what it considers your funds from a shared account. There is an example of a similar seizure from a recent IRS action against a WTR. An agent seized the bank account of the WTR's partner because the agent said the account owner was the WTR's "nominee." According to the IRS a nominee "is someone who is given limited authority to act on behalf of an entity, usually for a limited period of time." In this case the IRS said the WTR was using the account in another person's name, and that person being the "nominee," the IRS is allowed to seize the account. While this is the first time we'd heard this term, it is something to watch out for. However, nearly all the bank account seizures we hear about are owned by the individual resister with their own social security number on the account.
International Tax Blog speculates that this is because of a recent change in the law concerning tax treatment of expatriates. Until recently, even if you renounced your citizenship and moved to another country, the U.S. still wanted you to file tax returns for 10 more years, and would tax you on all of your income if you spent more than 30 days a year in-country. Now "moderately wealthy individuals can expatriate without any U.S. taxation the 10 year tax filings are no longer necessary, making the expatriation a clean break from the U.S."
Frank's sentencing date is June 14, 2010, 9:00 am, at the Federal Court House in Bangor, Maine, 202 Harlow Street. He appreciates the many letters that were sent to the judge on his behalf, and supporters are encouraged to attend the sentencing in June. Friends and fellow activists are set to speak on Frank's behalf with the goal of encouraging the judge to choose the shortest sentence possible. Federal sentencing guidelines indicate a prison sentence is likely.
Thanks for all your help in keeping NWTRCC going! We've got more to say about money on page 6.
NWTRCC's updated list of war tax resistance counselors, area contacts, affiliates, and alternative funds is on the "Contacts and Counselors" page at nwtrcc.org. Print versions of the Network List, which are slightly more extensive, can be requested from the NWTRCC office. 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.
On July 17th, 2009, I filed a complaint against the United States of America citing my religious commitment to refusing payment of taxes destined for military purposes. I stated that the government's refusal to accommodate my religious beliefs and conscience is in violation of my legal rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and various international covenants.
I am a Quaker and have resisted war taxes since 2000. Because I have lived below the taxable income level for eight of the past ten years, I was only able to withhold payment of income taxes during the 2001 and 2004 tax years. During those years I inflated my W-4 allowances so that no monies were withheld from my paychecks. In order to do this in a manner that felt integrous and in keeping with my Quaker faith and practice I wrote to the IRS to inform them that I was inflating my allowances as an act of civil disobedience. Eventually, while continuing to live below the taxable income level, I became eligible for the earned income credit and child credit on my return. Therefore, without paying a penny into the system I was granted a sizable refund. Unsurprisingly, the IRS siphoned the amount of my resisted taxes from 2001 and 2004 off the top of that refund. This challenged me to take my resistance to a new level.
The government's initial response to my complaint, written in consultation with attorney Fred Dettmer, came in the form of a "motion to dismiss," which requests that the assigned judge simply dismiss our complaint as "frivolous" without convening a trial. We received this motion on September 29. The government's basic stance is that our arguments have already been aired in other federal circuits, through the witness of resisters like Dan Jenkins and Rosa Packard, and that the 9th circuit, where I filed my complaint, ought to accept the judgments of those circuits as authoritative precedent.
On November 27 we offered a written response to the defendant's argument, taking this opportunity to remind the judge that the 9th circuit is not beholden to the decisions handed down by judges in other circuits. We urged the 9th to look afresh at the inherent injustice in requiring verifiably committed practitioners of religiously-based nonviolence to finance war and militarization. On December 4, the government offered its reply memorandum, which in effect put the ball in the court's court. As of today, February 20, 2010, we continue to await the judge's ruling on the motion to dismiss.
From the outset my friend and counsel, Fred Dettmer, has warned me that our chances for outward legal "success" are slim, though certainly not nonexistent. But I/we have moved forward with the conviction that doing so is in itself a success, in that this is an honest response to a felt call - a religious call to witness on behalf of justice and nonviolence. My hope is that this process and whatever we learn from it will, at the very least, add one more piece to the larger "case" that the tax resistance movement is slowly constructing as a whole. It is also my hope, and my expectation, that this process will help prepare me for further and bolder nonviolent witness in the future.
There remains uncertainty in my Quaker community, and obviously far beyond, about the merits of tax resistance as a strategy and as a moral witness. The steps I have taken represent my best guess as how the Spirit is leading me. I continue to experience this issue as an inherently simple one. I believe that if my religious faith leads me to denounce war and violence, then I ought not participate in it directly nor finance it.
I hope you will hold this situation, and all those involved in it, in your thoughts and prayers. And, of those involved in this situation, I hope that we'll especially remember all of our sisters and brothers, in so many corners of the globe, who are on the receiving end of our nation's war-making, war-sponsoring, and war-preparing. It is my belief that remembering them, and stepping off from that particular place of remembrance, represents our first and most critical step.
Chris Moore-Backman lives in California. All documents pertaining to this case can be viewed at the San Francisco Friends Meeting website: http://sfquakers.org/peajus.html
A member of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left decided to register: When belligerence and inhumanity prevail, the peaceful and the humane must find honor in being categorized as the enemies of the prevailing order. Please keep me updated as to the status of our registration. I look forward to hearing back from you as to our official recognition as enemies of your state and its government. PS. I am told that there is a processing fee in the amount of $5 for the registration of a subversive organization. Our organization is in fact so dastardly that we have refused to remit the fee." -David Gross, San Francisco
Lobby Day for a Peace Tax Fund
Friday April 23, 2010
Peace Tax Fund Office
2121 Decatur Place NW
Washington DC, 20008
Phone: (888) PEACETAX
But it was only one more dream, as I woke to the morning light.
A sleeping dream will not come true til someone pays the price.
So help to bring the dream to life. Help by not paying for war.
Invest in peace, resist the strife, or what's the dreaming for.
[CHORUS:] Let's work to help the world see peace, we can bring it to be.
A peace-full world is what we dream, from war and greed set free.
* * *
Update Insert to War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military. The 6-page insert can be downloaded from nwtrcc.org/publications.htm#books or ordered from NWTRCC or WRL. Free by email, or $1 for a printed copy. Please also send a stamped (44) self-addressed envelope.
A new version of the "Why Isn't Everyone for Peace A War Tax Resister?" brochure, with answers to common questions, is available from NWTRCC. We have a matching set of basic brochures that includes "Everyone" and "How and Why to Refuse to Pay for War," "Your Telephone Taxes Pay for War," and "Praying for Peace but Paying for War." All are 15 each or 12 each for affiliates, plus postage. See the full list of resources, including posters, buttons, and bumperstickers, at nwtrcc.org/publications.htm. Online orders can be paid through Paypal with credit card or bank account debit. For a printed list and mail orders contact: NWTRCC, PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • 1-800-269-7464.
We showed it on March 2 at Friends House where I live. About 35 people attended.
We showed the DVD first and then I
did a short talk about my experience with war tax resistance. Others contributed
from their history. People asked good questions and were very interested.
I heard good comments about the DVD.
I think it tells the story very well, using the five "sections" to group the
interviews. I especially like the personal stories and pictures of people
I have heard about which were in the DVD.
Thanks! It's a great resource.
-Paz, Ruth Hyde Paine, Santa Rosa, CA
We showed Death and Taxes as part of an ongoing film series. Following
its showing Randy Kehler and Andrea Ayvazian spoke about their conscience
and why they resist/ refuse war taxes. We explained that this dialogue was
not a workshop on how one might file and resist. There were lots of questions.
Our discussion was clear that this was not about avoiding paying taxes but
redirecting tax dollars to the things our society needs such as health care
for all, education, building a sustainable society. Overcoming fear is the
great challenge. I hope many will use Death and Taxes and put tax refusal
on the front burner.
-Frances Crowe, Northampton, MA
Jay Sordean of Berkeley, California reported on getting the film on community TV and a leafletting experience:
The community cable access has memberships, I have one, and I also have some lectures on the channel. I just asked if I could put Death and Taxes on, and the scheduling director said yes.
...passing out flyers for WTR workshops at a harbor cruise on the San Francisco Bay [to] that group of liberals and smart people, sometimes the "Death and Taxes" label was first interpreted in their asking me "are you one of the Tea Baggers?" I happen to like the title myself, for many reasons, most of all because it is usurping the right-wing's "death taxes" PR ploy and turning it on its head, really pointing out the real issues.
The Coordinating Committee (CC) is NWTRCC's highest decision-making body, and meets Sunday morning. The program begins Friday with dinner, and Friday evening and Saturday will be mini-conference style. See the information at nwtrcc.org/meetings.htm or call the office for registration form.
Our finances are somewhat improved, but we'll still be making our annual May appeal and hope that you will be able to respond generously (at whatever level "generous" may mean to you). If you cannot give a monetary donation, maybe you can help us find ways to help keep NWTRCC going - a house party and showing of Death and Taxes? An idea for a church or foundation to whom we might apply for funds? A fundraising strategy that has worked in your group? It's a tough economy, and we can use all the help we can get. Thanks!
*Speaking of which, NWTRCC has some online readings and writings about money that grew out of a discussion a few years ago at one of our weekend gatherings. Check it out at nwtrcc.org/readings_on_money.html.
I began my journey with war tax resistance in 1989 and now, over twenty years later, I am still hanging in there with every bit as much resolve. My conviction that it is wrong for my tax dollars to fund wars to "keep us secure" remains strong.
When I started doing WTR my life was simpler than it is today, and it was easier for me at the beginning. In 1989 my partner and I were renting a small cabin and I was working doing small boat-painting jobs. I was also young and naive and ready to change the world. Today I am a bit wiser, and more jaded, about how the world works and what it takes to change the status quo. I have settled on an island where I do what I can to make my beliefs consistent with a life living close to the land in a close-knit community and a fragile environment.
My priorities are different than they were in 1989. I have my own business and now I own a home with my partner; thus being a war tax resister is more complicated. At times I have struggled with being a WTR and with the complex issues that have arisen as a result of my beliefs, including harassment from the IRS and financial complexities. I have come close to giving up on war tax resistance a number of times, but in the end I have always stuck with it, and I am happy about that commitment. It seems that with every new war, my convictions are reinforced-even as WTR has created tensions with my partner and family. Owning a home has made my tax resistance stressful, and recent inheritance issues have added another layer of complication. It is not always an easy choice, especially since I lack support from a local WTR group.
If I can't change the way our country spends our tax dollars, I can make a difference in how I spend my own income. I feel sustained, also, by conscious choices about how I spend my time and live my life. When I began as a resister I was very active in the peace and justice movement. I spent years volunteering with a community land trust and building affordable housing. I served with a community action agency, and I have been a mentor to a number of young children. Today my passion is food security issues and organics. My partner and I have educated ourselves about where our food comes from and ways it is produced. Our industrial farming complex that is destroying our land, polluting our water, and making animals and people sick was born out of a need to use up all the chemicals left over after WWII. In a way you could say that the organic food revolution is also an antiwar revolution.
Over the last ten years we have gone from eating just a small amount of local food to eating approximately 80 percent food that is produced within 100 miles of us. At least 60 percent of that food is from our own community, including honey from our beehives. Our latest project is planting a fruit orchard. We have finished the deer fencing on three quarters of an acre, and we will be planting 20 fruit trees and a variety of berries this month. This past winter I planted a native plant hedgerow along the orchard fence line to encourage birds and beneficial insects. This spring we joined a grain Community Supported Agriculture project and will receive beans and grain next fall!
We have changed our diet drastically, including becoming omnivores (we had been vegetarians for 17 years). I milk two cows and we use the milk and cream to make butter, yogurt, and a variety of delicious cheeses. Last year we began raising chickens for consumption, and we also eat wild game that I hunt locally. It seems strange, sometimes, that a hard-core peace activist and WTR like me now owns and regularly uses a gun. If you told me 20 years that this would be the case, I would have laughed.
Being a WTR is an ongoing struggle and many things continue to challenge me. These include a number of IRS bank seizures, threatening letters, and family pressures as a result of joint inheritance of property. The latest bank seizure left me with an empty business account. This was a first, and now it is difficult for me to pay employees and business expenses as I can no longer keep much money in the account. When I called my small local bank after the seizure, the person at the bank told me that IRS collections are on the rise and that I should not keep money in the account.
Sometimes I wonder why I bother with the hassle of being a war tax resister. As I age (I am in my early fifties) I look back on the original reasons that I became a WTR, and although my passions and priorities have changed, my original ideals hold true today. It comes down to the basics: do I want to pay for death, environmental degradation, and destruction of communities, or do I want to support health care, education, environmental programs, and the development of renewable resources? The answer is obvious since I am writing this article-my "money" is on life-giving programs. In the long run, despite the ups and downs, the war tax resistance journey is one still worth living.
Liz Scranton has a custom wood-finishing business on Lopez Island in Washington State. She is a native plant fanatic, environmentalist, beekeeper, gardener, orchardist, hunter, and war tax resister. She would be happy to hear from you about your own journey.