War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund (WTRPF)
History of the Fund
The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund began more than 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan was president, U.S.-backed Contras were hard at work on our behalf, the Cold War was at its height, and U.S. Marine headquarters in Beruit, Lebanon, had just been bombed.
In the mid 1980s, military tax resisters who refused to pay all or a portion of their income tax to support MAD ”Mutually Assured Destruction” policies of the United States were being socked with large penalties, interest, liens, garnishments, and seizure of their property.
In 1982 a core group of 83 people across the country decided we 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 we 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 800 people sharing the weight. In nearly every appeal, at least 200 people respond, usually more. In all we’ve paid out about $250,000 to help resisters stay in the struggle.
How the Penalty Fund works
Send us your name and street address by U.S. mail (1036 N. Niles Ave, South Bend, IN 46617), e-mail (email@example.com) or fill in the following form and we will add you to the list of supporters who are committed to pay a share of resisters penalties and interest. Pay the assessed share or pay what you can. We keep your name on the list until you miss two appeals, but only those who have contributed to the last request are considered active.
About three times a year, the WTRPF Board reviews requests from resisters against whom the IRS has already moved. We ask resisters to provide:
- copies of correspondence with the IRS, including a printout for the year(s) in question by asking for their tax account from https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript
- proof of collection (IRS notice of a lien or garnishment)
- copies of letters of conscience they send to the IRS or government officials, or any other statement of their history of war tax resistance
We divide the total amount for all resisters by the number of active names on the membership list to arrive at a share. If this results in a share amount greater than $30, we will ask for less ($30) than the total amount requested and carry over the remainder to the next appeal. We then send out an appeal to both active and inactive members. Each contributor pays all of a share or whatever amount she can afford. Some pay more than a share. We are committed to eventually reimburse the whole amount requested for each applicant. Resisters do not need to be members of the Penalty Fund before applying for aid, but we hope they will become contributors afterward.
- To join the list, send your contact information to Peter Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the registration form above.
- To request assistance, send documents to WTRPF, 1036 N. Niles Ave, South Bend, IN 46617.
- To contribute to an appeal for funds, write a check to War Tax Resistance Penalty Fund and send it to:
WTRPF c/o Peter Smith
1036 N. Niles Ave
South Bend, IN 46617
To pay by credit card, click the following button
Why we do it
If money could buy security, we’d be the most secure country in the world. The National Priorities Project reports that the combined military spending of Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Cuba, and Sudan is still over $190 billion less than the total military spending of the United States. So the protest against the huge machinery of the military industrial complex is no more futile than the attempt to have security through military strength.
Effective or not, conscience dictates that we protest the conscription of our money for activities we would never assent to if we had to do them ourselves. And who knows, in any small action there may be the seeds of a mass movement or the ability to turn even one person into a peacemaker.
Military tax resistance is a witness to the power of peace and the vigorous exercise of personal conscience. Besides that, we’re buoyed by the fellowship of people who want to invest in nonviolent action.
In every Penalty Fund newsletter we publish the testimonies of resisters. They say it best in word and deed.