I was wondering what war tax resisters were thinking about in 1996, which is as far back as our archived newsletter archives go. (Answer: pretty much the same things in different contexts!) I came across a piece on the effectiveness of war tax resistance from Sallie Marx and Robert Hieger of New York City War Tax Resisters. (Also, as you can see from the screenshot and the link to the piece, we never finished migrating stuff from two websites ago to our previous website format, and now we have archived archives. Maybe the 1990s web will be back in style eventually. It works so well for Craigslist that their charitable fund has sent NWTRCC some very generous unsolicited grants!)
Back to the subject at hand. Since a common question WTRs get, right after “But won’t you go to jail?”, is “But won’t the IRS just come and take the money?”, I thought it was worth resurfacing this issue. Is resistance worthwhile even if you don’t “win”? Well, for one thing, you never know if you’ll “win” when it comes to the IRS or really any other entity, institution, or campaign. Not unless you try. For another, as Sallie and Robert write,
Exercising the right of conscience is of primary importance to war tax resisters. And for some resisters the need to express conscience overrides the issue of IRS collecting their monies. Protesting the collection of money going to the military is a pivotal issue, especially today, when the country is clearly not only stockpiling destructive weaponry but destroying the social support system built up during the past sixty years. Money spent on war has weakened our economy and scapegoatism (saying the poor, immigrants, social security are the cause of our deficits) has been used with great success. Resisters must speak out, write letters and withhold their monies, whenever possible, to make that point again and again.
Resistance puts the IRS administrative machinery to work. The more resisters we have doing this, the more the government feels the impact of their actions.
Along with war tax protest, a resister is talking to friends, fellow workers, and IRS employees in an effort to change political sentiment in the country. Such changes are difficult, if not impossible, to measure because they can’t be empirically verified. Since many resisters ignore influencing the long-term direction (i.e., political direction) of this country as a goal of war tax resistance, the collection of monies disheartens them. [emphases added]
Maybe collection is only a “failure” if no one except the IRS knew you were resisting in the first place! Keep resisting, whether it’s $1 or 100% of your taxes, and don’t let collection throw you off. The real risk (or failure) is not resisting.
Post by Erica