Resisting Debt Collectively

| Federal Income Tax, IRS

Our friends at Strike Debt (who released the Debt Resisters Operations Manual that has a whole chapter on tax resistance) are promoting a new effort called Debt Collective, coming off of their recent Rolling Jubilee forgiveness of $4 million in student loan debt from Corinthian Colleges.

Debt Collective is a way for debtors to organize together, and it is not limited to student debt, but also includes credit cards, mortgages, and other types of debt:

The goal of the Debt Collective is to create a platform by debtors and for debtors for organization, advocacy, and resistance. Organizing collectively offers many possibilities for building power against creditors:

As we build membership, we can organize debtors into groups based on region, type of debt, or institution. These groups can bargain with creditors or even develop the power to threaten a debt strike. A debt collective can help create a positive vision for a sustainable economy in which credit would be used to benefit everyone and not to line the pockets of a few.

War tax resisters know the power of organizing collectively to support each other when the IRS comes calling, but the power of a collective tax strike, at least in the US and organized around war tax resistance, has somewhat eluded us. Our War Tax Boycott gathered hundreds of names but failed to launch a widespread movement.

Debt Collective wants to harness the power of negotiating collectively, though war tax resisters typically do not negotiate payment with the IRS. (One exception is Steev Hise, who was able to negotiate an offer in compromise in which he paid the IRS some money to eliminate his back tax obligation, but he ended up paying not nearly as much as he had resisted.)

I was hoping to write about this topic and come up with some sort of lesson we can learn from the idea of Debt Collective, but I’m not sure we’re doing similar enough things to adopt tactics or messaging from them, despite my admiration for their work. Perhaps our readers can discuss: is there anything we can take from the idea of Debt Collective to apply to war tax resistance?

Post by Erica