The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund began almost 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan was president, U.S.-backed Contras were hard at work on our behalf, the Cold War was at its height, and U.S. Marine headquarters in Beruit, Lebanon, had just been bombed.
In the mid 1980s, military tax resisters who refused to pay all or a portion of their income tax to support MAD— Mutually Assured Destruction—policies of the United States were being socked with large penalties, interest, liens, garnishments, and seizure of their property.
In 1982 a core group of 83 people across the country decided we could easily share $463.14 in penalties and interest incurred by a few military tax resisters who appealed to the war tax resistance community for help. The more people we could recruit to shoulder the penalties and interest of resisters, the lighter the burden for everyone. The base list of supporters has been as high as 800 people sharing the weight. In nearly every appeal, at least 200 people respond, usually more. In all we’ve paid out about $250,000 to help resisters stay in the struggle.
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About once each quarter, the WTRPF Board reviews requests from resisters against whom the IRS has already moved. We ask resisters to provide:
We divide the total amount for all resisters by the number of active names on the membership list to arrive at a “share.” We then send out an appeal to both active and inactive members. Each contributor pays all of a share or whatever amount she can afford. Some pay more than a share. If we collect 75 percent of the total we ask for, each resister gets 75 percent of the amount they requested. We cannot promise that we will collect the total amount requested; usually, however, we can reimburse between 50% and 80% of each appeal. Resisters do not need to be members of the Penalty Fund before applying for aid, but we hope they will become contributors afterward.
A steering committee made up of people from NWTRCC operate the fund. We welcome others who would like to serve on the steering committee. Contact us if you would like to serve.
Peter Smith, Bill Ramsey, Jerry Chernow, Barbara (Shulamith) Clearbridge