War Tax Resistance Penalty Fund: Supporting Resisters for over 40 Years

[Editor’s Note: In the latest letter for the War Tax Resistance Penalty Fund, Peter Smith provided a brief history of the fund, which began the same year as NWTRCC. More information about the Penalty Fund can be found at wtrpf.org]

Our group during the Farm Tour at Joyfield Farm. Photo by Bryon Clemens.

The last NWTRCC gathering was at Joyfield farm in North Manchester, Indiana (May 2023). This is the home of Cliff and Arlene Kindy and Bob and Rachel Gross, who, following the inspiration of Professor Ken Brown of Manchester College, founded the fund in 1982. According to the archived records at Swarthmore College,

“The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund began in 1982 as a volunteer project of the North Manchester, Indiana Fellowship of Reconciliation. It supported and encouraged conscientious war tax resisters in the U.S. As of 1994, the group had worked with about 1000 tax resisters and supporters, and numbered 500 members nationally. Originally the group was called Tax Resisters Penalty Fund.”

In 1982, a core group of 83 people across the country decided they 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 they 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 600 people sharing the weight. After 1994, the frequency of appeals was greatly reduced and the North Manchester folks turned the operation of the fund over to Julie Garber—originally from North Manchester but living in Chicago. In 2013, the current steering committee from NWTRCC offered to take over the fund and Julie was happy to agree.

We sent our first appeal letter in the summer of 2014. By that time, the list of supporters had fallen to 200 since many of those in the North Manchester support group did not respond to our request to rejoin the fund. In nearly every appeal, at least 130 people respond, usually more. In all, we’ve paid out about $250,000 to help resisters stay in the struggle.

Before 2014, a share was determined by dividing the total requested by the number of members who had responded to the previous appeal. Whatever was collected was divided among those who had submitted an appeal. The current steering committee decided to not make a share greater than $30, but to continue quarterly appeals until all the requested funds have been collected. We welcome your comments and any ideas for improving the operation of the fund.

To find out more about the fund go to wtrpf.org, To add your name to our list of supporters, please send your name, address, and email to Peter Smith, 1036 N. Niles Ave, South Bend, IN 46617, or email him at psmith@saintmarys.edu.

WTRPF Steering Committee: Peter Smith (Indiana), Shulamith Eagle (Pennsylvania), Bill Ramsey (Pennsylvania), Shirley Whiteside (Iowa), Steve Leeds (California)

~Post by Peter Smith