By Rod Nippert
I am 61 years young. I live in an intentional community in southeastern Ohio. I have been a war tax resister (WTR) since the early 1970s. I believe being a WTR has profoundly affected my adult life.
I do not feel that I am in any way uniquely suited to be a tax resister. I grew up in a small conservative farming community in central Ohio in a farming family. I was in high school as the Vietnam War was unfolding. I also grew up as member of the Church of the Brethren. I think these circumstances greatly influenced the road I took.
I am a pacifist and attribute this to the influence of the Church of the Brethren. The Vietnam War made the military draft significant in my life. I was a conscientious objector and eventually turned in my draft card.
As soon as I started making enough money to pay taxes I could see the glaring contradiction of working to end war, being a pacifist, and paying federal taxes — especially since more than half of those taxes went for military expenditures.
About this time I became involved in a national group, Peacemakers, which strongly supportedWTR. I believe that having a support group, whether local or national, is critical to having a positive experience with resisting taxes. It certainly has been for me. Being a war tax resister is not widely accepted or admired so having like-minded people as support is good.
I married Linda in 1970. We have always discussed and shared in the decisions around our (my) tax resistance. We were both war tax resisters until the mid-’80s when Linda stopped, so I just speak for myself in the article.
Once I decided to not pay war taxes I had other decisions to make; what percentage to pay or not pay and whether it was important to actually keep the government from getting this tax money.
It was clear that over half of any taxes I paid would go for military expenditures, so I determined not to pay any. It also became clear, after much talking, thinking, and reading, that it was important to actively work to keep the IRS from collecting any of this tax money. I had no idea how profoundly this decision would influence my life.
I decided not to file tax returns. I reasoned this would make it harder to track me down and harder for them to make an assessment of what I owed. I realized this would extend the time of liability and increase the amount IRS might collect, but deciding to become a WTR does have possible consequences both positive and negative. I did not want my wages garnished so I decided I needed to be self-employed. IRS could levy bank accounts or auction off property. I opened a business account, with a friend as the primary signer and was then able to get a credit card, which has been very helpful. I reduced the amount of property I owned and put my truck in my wife’s name after she stopped resisting.
I have been a fruit picker, woodworker, builder, stained glass craftsperson, and organic farmer. I presently raise organic red raspberries for fresh sell and make stained glass with the owner of a small stained glass shop.
I am now living a much simpler lifestyle than I would ever have imagined as a young adult. I attribute this largely to my decision to not pay my federal taxes and to work hard to not let the IRScollect this tax money. I have always donated that tax money to helping change the world and to relieving suffering. I live in the woods and hills of southern Ohio in an owner-built home, heated with wood, and energized by solar panels and the healing vibes of mother nature.
The IRS has not collected any money from me in all these years. I attribute this to three factors: not filing federal tax returns, earning money in ways that make it hard for IRS to collect, and not having bank accounts and property that is very accessible. I am a nonfiler because I didn’t want to announce myself on their terms with their forms. I am very public about my resistance and have been active on and off for all these years in WTR issues.
The IRS has come and gone throughout this journey. They tried to collect early on but we were actually living below the taxable level. I was involved in a protest action in the early ’80s at the time the frivolous penalty was first introduced. Several of us sent in a tax return everyday or once a week basically inviting them to levy the $500* frivolous penalties, interest, and fees. I was pursued vigorously for about 10 years. If I had a job from which they could have garnished wages or a bank account to levy this would have been done. I have had an IRS lien for many years. This is mainly a problem if you borrow money or want to set up accounts. I have been getting letters from the IRSfor the last two or three years; I ignore correspondence from them.
Being a WTRer has been an overwhelmingly positive experience-not that it isn’t a pain in the butt sometimes. I love the WTR community; local, national, and international. I am very happy with the way resisting has directed my life and in ways I couldn’t see when this journey started. I invite you to jump on board if you aren’t on board already.
*raised to $5,000