Action Ideas

woman addresses crowd with man holding sign that reads “$55,000 college scholarships instead of paying for war”

Click photo for the link to tax day chants, where you can also read the lyrics and see the flash mob created by Berkeley, California, Bay Peace activists. Take these ideas and develop your own creative action.

If you think more people should know about war tax resistance, we welcome your ideas and help. NWTRCC is a resource center connecting the individuals and groups who support and do war tax resistance. Volunteers do most of our organizing work, and the best outreach is done in your own networks in your own community.

This page includes some organizing ideas, links to resources, and tools for you to use online, in print, or in the street.

And let us know what you are doing so we can share your ideas with others!

Tips for Organizing an Event

  • Have a clear date and time
  • Pick a location where you will be visible and in the public (like a farmer’s market, street fair)
  • Be aware that some places may require permits for public spaces, but as long as you don’t block the sidewalk or traffic a permit should not be required.
  • Have plenty of material to give out and separate material for youth
  • Be aware that you may have outside interference, such as dogs barking, babies crying, police sirens, etc.
  • Take photos and videos to send to NWTRCC, having a photo-op for publicity for future events is important!
  • If you want to have a performance, make sure to rehearse and have a vision for how the performance will engage the public. Have an option for participation!
  • Be passionate, if your event doesn’t have a large turnout, go back, modify and try again.

Organizing Ideas for Tax Day or Any Day

Many of these ideas were written with April’s tax day in mind, because that is a day when the media is focused on the issue. But the government is taking taxes year-round from your paycheck, so don’t wait until April to get out and demand that our money be used for people and the planet and not war.

You don’t need huge numbers of people to have a visible presence at the post office as people pay their taxes. Some of these creative ideas used on tax day can be used at any time, as our struggle goes on year-round.

Download or order free flyers. Check out the Flyers page on our website for materials that you can download for tables and leafleting. See the Environment, Taxes and War page for links to resources, including our free “earth cards” shown below and on that page.

Divest-Invest Palm Card Front

Divest-Invest Palm Card Back

Earth Card pie chart card2.indd

pie chart card2.indd

These 3 different palm cards are free from the NWTRCC office (we’re always happy for donations with your order). Click on the images to the right to read each card; the “Earth Card” in one sided – great as a postcard:

Leaflet with the WRL pie chart “Where you income tax money really goes,” with its breakdown of military spending — the government’s deceptive figures, as well as how the dollars are really spent. This includes a list that compares the costs of tools for war and tools for peace. Order copies from our Publications page, or download a copy from the War Resisters League website.

Ideas for organizing abound! Leaflet at your local post office in the days leading up to the tax filing deadline as people come to mail their tax returns. Or go to a place in your community that could use more funding that the Pentagon is getting instead — like a school or community center or hospital — and leaflet there as well. This is a powerful way of saying, “Money for education (or health care or whatever) not for war.”

two war tax resisters in “fat suits”, one labeled “Bloated Military Budget”

eye-catching costumes

March from place to place that is losing funding and end your march at the Military Recruiting Office (the government spends billions of dollars each year on recruiting).

Use props or costumes to gain attention. Focusing on war profiteers and how tax dollars pay for huge corporate profits makes for great street theatre. Make a fake mailbox where people can send their taxes directly to corporations like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Halliburton, etc. Hold a “Bypass the middleman, send your taxes directly to the corporations who profit from war” sign. Find more information on war profiteers on the CorpWatch website.

large costumes draw attention

large costumes draw attention

Use puppets of mothers and babies, or large pictures of victims of war with a sign “How your tax dollars are spent”. Make drone models with $40 million price tags (see KnowDrones). Make long banners that read “Military Budget = Death and Destruction.” Have a mock funeral, make coffins.

Conduct a die-in (legally or as civil disobedience), showing what happens when these weapons bought with tax dollars are used. Make dead “babies” by stuffing clothes or use wrapped blankets. Draw outlines of the dead with chalk so the image remains after the body is gone.

Burn tax forms. This can be done as part of a blockade or in a visible, legal site. In conjunction with burning tax forms, have a banner with the Daniel Berrigan quote “Pardon us, friends, for the fracture of good order, for burning paper instead of babies.” Fr. Berrigan wrote this explaining his role in burning Selective Service (military draft) files in Catonsville, Maryland, during the Vietnam War. Offer apologies for burning tax forms instead of Iraqi cities, Colombian villages, Palestinian schools, Afghan hospitals, etc.

six jars, each marked with the name of a budget category, on a table with a bunch of pennies nearby with which people can vote

jars from a “penny poll”

Conduct a penny poll and publicize the results in a press release or letter to the editor of your local paper.

Have a bake sale using the theme “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the navy has to hold a bake sale to buy a battleship!” Remind people that the hundreds of cruise missiles being launched from navy ships cost $1 million each. Folks in Des Moines do this bake sale every year, giving the proceeds to the under-funded alternative high school.

two people hold a large banner with a representation of a federal budget pie chart

the budget pie chart is an eye-catching and informative prop

Turn the federal budget pie-chart into a large poster. Hold a few large banners rather than lots of small ones that are hard to read as people rush by.

Give out pie with your pie charts — pieces of pizza pie or dessert pie. You can add a little theatre by having a “representative” of the Pentagon “eating” most of the pie when others get only tiny slices.

Candlelight vigil with a large banner saying, for instance, “Taxes for Peace Not War” in front of the Post Office, a military contractor, or in another appropriate place.

Go to a budget hearing at the local City Council or Board of Education to talk about the federal budget. Do a penny poll beforehand and announce the results. School budgets and human services are being cut while military spending grows.

Use the local media. It’s a good way to get your message out! Write a letter to the editor or call a local talk radio show to talk about the way you’d like to see your tax dollars spent. Let them know that your demonstration will include a “photo opportunity” such as the penny poll, costumes, and the like.

Originally written by Joanne Sheehan, War Resisters League/New England, Along with NWTRCC, the War Resisters League has many resources on war tax resistance and war resistance.

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