Tax resistance in the age of Trump

| Federal Income Tax

Over the past month, I’ve been ruminating on the possibilities of war tax resistance in a Trump presidency.

At first I was concerned: for folks who are concerned about a diminishing tax base and slashed social services, the idea of further defunding the government might seem ill-timed, at best. However, many people who are not yet war tax resisters are very very motivated by the idea of resisting Trump and his administration’s policies and appointees. And war tax resisters certainly have a lot to question or to be concerned about when it comes to Trump’s foreign policy.

Recently, Time magazine published an article from journalist Mark Weston, proposing that people who voted for Hillary Clinton should threaten a federal tax strike if the popular vote winner again does not win the electoral college and become president, meaning in 2020 or thereafter. Weston argues that collecting millions of pledges to refuse to pay federal taxes could convince the government to abolish the electoral college, without taxes ever having to be withheld.

In a conversation on Facebook, Weston told me he believes tax resistance is too risky to be undertaken in small numbers, hence the need for a large pledge. I asked him, why not start tax resistance now, if the electoral college is being used in a way you don’t approve of? He responded that this wasn’t something to be undertaken hastily.

Gloria Steinem has also proposed tax resistance if the government stops funding women’s health services through Planned Parenthood:

Steinem also proposed a tax resistance movement similar to that used by opponents of the Vietnam War in the 1960s who refused to pay a percentage of their income taxes that would have gone toward funding the unpopular conflict.

“In this case, we can say ‘I’m sending the part of my income tax that should go to Planned Parenthood, I’m sending it directly to Planned Parenthood. Come and get me.’

“They come and collect eventually, but it costs them way more to go through the process.”

(By the way, I commented on the article that we still resist war taxes today – it’s not just Vietnam that’s an unjust and unpopular war!)

We’ve seen waves of interest in war tax resistance or tax resistance as a principled action before. And some of the concerns about starting to resist taxes are the same, whether it’s concern about risks or timing. Many more people talk theoretically about taking on this tactic than actually do, so how do we make ourselves as relevant as possible?

In other words: How can we as war tax resisters grow our influence and power in these times, when (war) tax resistance is starting to make more sense to more people?

Post by Erica

2 thoughts on “Tax resistance in the age of Trump”

  1. John Stoner says:

    Thank you, Erica, for your testimony in Washington and for this report. One good response to the question you ask about growing our war tax resistance influence and power is the last paragraph of Sam Koplinka-Loehr’s blog which appeared just previous to yours on the NWTRCC blog site. People who read your blog here should look on the right side above and click the Iraq Tribunal blog, and read about supporting black-led organizing for liberation with our WTR dollars.

  2. Larry Bassett says:

    People who have been around a while will remember the CMTC who’s premise was that when 100,000 people pledged to resist their taxes everyone would do it together to support the peace tax fund. I think that effort finally fizzled out with about 10,000 pledges. But what we learned was that once someone pledged they were much more likely to take some resistance action even though the 100,000 wasn’t reached. Just deciding to do it was a big step. The CMTC also had an escrow account and at one time a substantial amount of funds were in that account. Not sure what the status of the escrow account is these days but you never hear anything about it anymore.

    Next April I will file my 1040 with the IRS and have something like $500,000 of taxable income. I am assuming the IRS will notice me and that is a good thing. If they don’t even notice you what’s the point?

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