More Than a Paycheck,
REFUSING to PAY for WAR
- Divest from the Pentagon, Invest in People Tax Day 2016
- Join Us! National WTR Gathering
- Counseling Notes Citizenship and WTRs • …And the Flip Side • I Quit My Job To Stop a Levy. When Can I Return? • Less Money More Work at the IRS
- Many Thanks to everyone who supports NWTRCC with their volunteer time or financial donations and to the following groups for recent donations
- Network List Updates
- International The Far Reach of Pentagon Waste • Disobedience.EU
- War Tax Resistance Ideas and Actions What One Person Can Do • The Judge Said “Pay Up Or Else” • Save the Date
- Resources WRL Pie Chart • Relationships and War Tax Resistance • OnLine
- NWTRCC News Interns Wanted! • Our New Website • Remembrances
- PROFILE Psychologically Unable to Write a Check to Maim and Kill
By Kathy Labriola
Click here to download a PDF of the April/May issue
Divest from the Pentagon, Invest in People
Tax Day 2016
Probably like many of you I spend way too much time staring at my computer screen and being in touch with friend and the world “virtually.” So, our motto for tax day should be “off the computers and into the streets!” Besides making ourselves more visible, interacting with passers-by is usually enlightening. This year NWTRCC sponsored some pilot projects under the “Divest from the Pentagon” slogan, and activists tried to partner with new groups and plan events throughout the tax season. We’ll have reports on this at our May gathering and see if we can grow these efforts for tax season 2017. This year the Global Campaign on Military Spending has extended their “Global Day” actions to “days,” from April 5, when the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute releases their world military expenditure yearbook, through the U.S. tax day on April 18.
Recently at vigils I’ve found a common response to my antiwar signs seems to be “what about ISIS?” Many people who shout that don’t really want to discuss it, but many others ask the question seriously, hoping there is some answer that does not involve endless war. In looking at the Global Campaign’s website, I found a link to a statement, “Tackling Terror,” that the International Peace Bureau released after the Paris attacks. It outlines about 15 non-military steps toward a safer world. You can find the link here, demilitarize.org/gdams-2016-2/, or ask the NWTRCC office for a copy.
There’s still time to get your action posted on our website. Just email email@example.com or call the office at (800) 269-7464.
— Ruth Benn
See nwtrcc.org/programs-events/tax-day/action-calendar-2016 for the most up-to-date listings, and be sure to send your reports, videos, and photos to the NWTRCC office for our web page and next newsletter.
Join Us! National WTR Gathering
May 13-15, 2016
Please join war tax resisters, friends and supporters at the Lansdowne Friends Meeting, just on the edge of Philadelphia, for our next national gathering. We’ll take a “Poverty Reality Tour in a War Economy” in Philadelphia led by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (economichumanrights.org), followed by a workshop or discussion at an urban farm. The Poor People’s Campaign has a long history of activism and advocating for a shift in priorities on the local, state, and federal levels to take care of all people. National Coordinator Cheri Honkala is widely known for her dynamic leadership. The group is also part of a coalition which is planning a March for Our Lives on July 25, at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. We will learn more about those plans during our tour.
On Friday evening and earlier Saturday, we’ll hear reports and stories from tax season actions, including from Jason Rawn who will have just returned from Jeju Island in Korea (see page 3). Saturday’s workshops will include a WTR 101 workshop for those new to war tax resistance, brainstorming sessions about outreach and partnering with other movements, and sharing resistance stories. The NWTRCC business meeting is Sunday morning (all welcome). After lunch on Sunday, for those who can stay until about 3 pm, our final session will be a Q & A with war tax resistance legal advisor Peter Goldberger.
The weekend is co-sponsored by the Lansdowne Friends Meeting,
Brandywine Peace Community, and Peace Center of Delaware County. More details and the registration form are at nwtrcc.org/programsandevents, or contact the NWTRCC office for a brochure.
Now that we’ve got this one planned, where shall we meet in November? Any invitations in the offing?
Editor’s note: As always, if you have a story related to anything you read in this column, please send your experience to the NWTRCC office or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We especially want to continue to collect stories about the Affordable Care Act and war tax resistance.
Citizenship and WTR
A recent question to NWTRCC: “A friend of mine is interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, and also wants to do war tax resistance. He’s from Canada and has lived here for many years as a legal permanent resident.”
A good source for legal guidance on immigration issues with a network for referral to lawyers is Nolo (nolo.com), a website and book publisher of legal information for non-lawyers. Their page titled “I owe back taxes – can I apply for citizenship? Says,
[O]ne of the requirements for U.S. citizenship is that you show “good moral character.” This doesn’t mean showing that you’re better than the average person, but it does involve showing that you have behaved well, including paying your taxes. The naturalization application Form N-400 issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically asks about whether you have paid the taxes that you owe.
As much as we want to encourage taking the risk of war tax resistance, this is a tough question and one that WTR counselors need to be careful about. A small, symbolic refusal might not be noticed. Living on low income/off the books might be an option, but could require some explaining in a citizenship application process. Encourage anyone with this question to look over all the application forms and instructions, so that if they choose some level of war tax resistance they enter it with eyes wide open.
…And the Flip Side
In 2015 the number of U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship rose to 4,279, a 25% increase over the previous year. The assumption is that most leave because U.S. taxes are too high and are collected on U.S. citizens who live abroad. However, an Associated Press article on topic, “More renounce U.S. citizenship but deny stereotype,” tells more complicated stories. Those interviewed had often lived in the U.S. only briefly, perhaps born in the U.S. but raised abroad. In many cases tax issues play into the decisions, but not because they are hiding great wealth. Among the mix of reasons, one man who lives in Austria said of his last U.S. visit, “I never forget going into a grocery store and just being stunned by my choice of cereals. I was stunned by just the pace of life compared to what we have here, stunned by the extremes of wealth and poverty that I encountered.” It would be interesting to see a more full study on this topic.
I Quit My Job To Stop a Levy. When Can I Return?
It took the IRS about four years to find a longtime WTR at his job and send a wage levy. The WTR quit his job but wonders how long the levy remains in effect. His boss would like him to return but the WTR does not want to bring the IRS down on the employer either.
Once again, referring to a Nolo publication, Stand Up to the IRS, we found this paragraph under the section “Defending Against a Wage Levy”:
Change employers or temporarily quit your job. Neither you nor your employer must inform the IRS if you quit. The IRS must hunt you down at your new employment, which could take months. If you quit and are rehired after a month or two, the wage levy is no longer effective as long as your employer notified the IRS that you quit.
The key phrase is that last one — that the employer must have told the IRS you quit the job, presumably by replying to the levy notice with that information.
Less Money More Work at the IRS
The IRS Commissioner John Koskinen makes regular visits to Congress to ask for more money for the agency, whose budget has declined steadily (when adjusted for inflation) since 2010. The agency plans to cut its staff by as many as 3,000 full time employees this year, despite the increase in workload managing the Affordable Care Act, focusing on tax avoidance with foreign accounts, and dealing with identity theft and scams. Taxpayers suffer from the agency’s increasingly poor taxpayer services. In 2015 fewer than half of the calls to the IRS were answered and callers who got through had a wait time of more than 20 minutes. Audits of individual returns are down to less than 1%, but, on the brighter side, a higher percentage of audits that take place are of people with incomes over $1 million. Still, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reports that IRS revenue agent audit hours aimed at larger corporations, which are those with a minimum of at least $250 million in assets, dropped by 34% from 2010 to 2015.
Once again NWTRCC received a surprise grant of $25,000 from craigslist Charitable Fund, for which we are very grateful. Our May gathering and business meeting will spend some time planning the best use for this grant with an eye on increasing our outreach efforts.
Affiliate fees, support from alternative funds, and individual donations are a fundamental part of NWTRCC’s durability. We are grateful to these groups who have sent in dues recently:
- New England War Tax Resistance
- War Resisters League National Office
- War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund
Network List Updates
The Network List of Affiliates, Area Contacts, Counselors, and Alternative Funds is updated and online at nwtrcc.org, or contact the NWTRCC office (email@example.com or (800) 269-7464) if you would like a printed list by mail.
Consider a Bequest
NWTRCC accepts bequests, which can be arranged through your will or other estate plan.
Simply name NWTRCC as the beneficiary of a portion of your estate or of particular assets in your estate, or contact the NWTRCC office for arranging a bequest through one of our 501c3 fiscal sponsors. A bequest costs nothing now, yet it may give you great satisfaction to know that your gift will live on in NWTRCC.
More information: (800) 269-7464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Far Reach of Pentagon Waste
By Jason Rawn
Resistance to the construction of the billion-dollar U.S.-Republic of Korea joint naval base (everyone I meet calls it a “U.S. naval base”) continues despite the base’s opening ceremony on February 26. Among the various illegalities, deceptions, and propaganda the government has engaged in to push forward the construction, an article in the newsletter Gangjeong Village Story caught my eye. Titled, “Hotbed of Irregularities at the Jeju Naval Base Construction,” the article, by activist-organizer-musician Joyakgol, states that it was revealed that “malpractice cases associated with Jeju naval base construction subcontracting were common.” The article states that, among other financial crimes, laborers have often gone unpaid for months, that two local eateries are owed around $15,000 each on contracts to feed construction workers, and that “a subcontractor called ‘Green FA’ vanished with hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
As Joyakgol concludes, “A Jeju provincial parliament member asked at a hearing if the provincial government officials were aware of the situation. They said they didn’t know. Bottom level workers and small business owners don’t get paid properly, while some greedy capitalists get all the money at the expense of environmental destruction. This is what Jeju naval base [construction] is really about.”
Jason Rawn spent the past two months in Asia, participating in actions in Gangjeong, Korea, and Henoko, Okinawa, Japan, protesting U.S. bases and networking with local activists.
“When one realises that to obey unjust laws is contrary to the dignity of humanity, no tyranny can enslave.”
The Troika Fiscal Disobedience Consultancy (disobedience.eu/what-we-do) is building a European network of companies that support a European tax disobedience movement. In short, they’re trying to use the same bag of tricks that multinational corporations use to evade taxes on their profits in order to build an alternative economic network of European dissidents.
During this tax season NWTRCC activists chose the slogan, “Divest from the Pentagon, Invest in People,” emphasizing our efforts to cut our individual financial connection to war and redirect that money to human needs. The Troika is working to do this in a big way, with an emphasis on civil disobedience, exemplified by the Gandhi quote above. A prominent section of their site is devoted to explaining civil disobedience and giving examples, like the Boston Tea party and Thoreau’s resistance.
Thanks to David Gross for tracking this movement. Read more on his blog at sniggle.net/TPL/index5.php?entry=28Jan16.
War Tax Resistance Ideas and Actions
What One Person Can Do
Don Schrader sent his recent letter-to-the-editor to NWTRCC, a reminder that one person can reach many people. His letter was published in the University of New Mexico’s Daily Lobo on March 3. He also read it as public comment at City Council and County Commissioners meetings — both of which are televised live on the local cable channel.
Four Air Force veterans who officially operated U.S. drones assassinating people in other countries, have spoken out. They wrote to President Obama, “We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”
When the U.S. murders, by drones, thousands of women, men and children, when the U.S. wages war in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the U.S. supports Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians, many people in these countries reject women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of speech…partly because they see those movements coming from the U.S. — the enemy nation killing their people.
I strongly support women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of speech worldwide! I damn ALL wars as crimes against humanity. Almost half of the U.S. federal income tax dollars pay for WAR! So I have paid NO federal income tax, not one penny, for U.S. wars for 37 years!
Don Schrader, Albuquerque, NM
The Judge Said “Pay Up Or Else”
A year ago in May the NWTRCC gathering was held in Milwaukee, hosted by Casa Maria Catholic Worker, and among the hosts was Don Timmerman. As part of that weekend, Phil Runkel gave us a tour of the Marquette University Archives where he works. The collection includes the papers of Catholic Worker and Dorothy Day, with many documents relating to war tax resistance.
In August 2015, both men participated in an action against drone warfare at Volk Field Air National Guard base where drone pilots are trained.
On February 1 and 19, respectively, Don and Phil were found guilty of trespassing in Juneau County, Wisconsin, by Judge Paul Curran, who allowed little testimony from defendants in his courtroom.
In separate trials, the arrestees were fined $232 and ordered to pay it within 60 days or it would be attached to their income tax returns. As Joy First reported on the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance listserve, “This tactic, which he also used in Bonnie Block’s trial, does not allow us to choose to spend the five days in jail. For many of us, it goes against our conscience to pay the fine and we would prefer the jail time over paying the fine, but now Judge Curran has discovered a way to prevent that.” It’s unclear how certain this is or what would happen if a refund is not due. We’ll be interested to hear more.
Save the Date
The next New England Gathering of War Tax Resisters and Supporters will be October 14-16, 2016, in Western Massachusetts. The focus will be building relationships with activists of other movements, and the weekend is being planned around a speaking tour by Black LGBT pacifist and activist, Mandy Carter. The hope is to build toward a larger conference in 2017 in conjunction with the Resistance Studies Initiative at UMASS Amherst. Watch the website and next newsletter for more details.
WRL Pie Chart
The latest “Where Your Income Taxes Really Go” flyer is available for .10 each from NWTRCC for orders of 200 and fewer. If you want some for events between now and tax day, order today!
For orders of more than 200, please see the War Resisters League store at warresisters.org, or call (212) 228-0450.
Relationships and War Tax Resistance
NWTRCC’s Practical #8 is now available in print for $1 each. Conscientiously opposing war through tax refusal is a stand that takes courage and has risks. Many, if not most, war tax resisters deal with concerns about practicing war tax resistance while married or in a relationship. This Practical is packed with stories and tips to help you manage both.
The other booklets are: #1: Controlling Federal Tax Withholding, #2: To File or Not to File and Income Tax Return; #3: How to Resist Collection, or Make the Most of Collection When it Occurs; #4: Self Employment: An Effective Path for War Tax Refusal; #5: Low Income/Simple Living as War Tax Resistance; #6: Organizational War Tax Resistance; #7: Health Care and Income Security for War Tax Resisters.
The Practical War Tax Resistance Series can be read online or downloaded as a PDF for free, or order from NWTRCC: single copies #1-3 $.75 each; #4-8 $1.00 each.
Blogger, researcher, author and war tax resister David Gross has been busy. Two of his articles were published recently: Friends Journal published “How Quaker War Tax Resistance Came and Went, Twice” on February 1 at friendsjournal.org/quaker-war-tax-resistance, and the article also appeared in their February print edition. The other one, about the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund (wtrpf.org), “Protecting war tax resistance strengthens antiwar movement,” appeared on the Waging Nonviolence website on February 11, wagingnonviolence.org/feature/protecting-war-tax-resistance-strengthens-antiwar-movement.
Thanks to the website Popular Resistance for their March 14 posting of the text to our #1 Practical, popularresistance.org/controlling-federal-income-tax-withholding.
There is so much more we could be doing for NWTRCC and the war tax resistance network if we just had a bit more time… Both NWTRCC’s paid consultants are part time; the Coordinator position is 25 hours per week, and the Social Media consultant is budgeted for up to 15 hours per week. Erica Weiland does the Social Media work in Seattle, and the Coordinator and office are in Brooklyn. We have the opportunity to offer some hours of paid internship/assistant work, both to add some extra help and to bring some younger voices and energy into our efforts. The types of tasks might involve helping to keep our website and social media updated, phone calls and outreach to WTR activists around the country, mailings and office work, creating new outreach tools like short videos, etc.
If you are a college student or young worker looking for a few extra hours of paid work and have a strong interest in war tax resistance or work in the peace movement (or you know someone who would be interested) please contact the NWTRCC office. The person could be in Seattle or New York City, or perhaps somewhere in between if the tasks are suitable to working remotely.
Rosa Packard died at age 80 on February 22, 2016, after a long illness. She was a longtime resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, and became a Quaker in 1976 and a war tax resister in 1981. Rosa was active with NWTRCC as an Area Contact and on committees for many years. She represented Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI) at the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee in New York from 2001-2010 and traveled often for CPTI meetings in Europe during those years. In the mid-1990s, after the IRS had levied her bank accounts, she sued the U.S. government seeking accommodation for conscientious objectors not paying war taxes based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Her final appeal to the Supreme Court was summarily dismissed in 2000. You can find links to her writings and the court documents at rosapackard.org.
Psychologically Incapable of Writing a Check to Maim and Kill
By Kathy Labriola
I am a counselor, nurse, and hypnotherapist in private practice in Berkeley, California, and I have been a war tax resister for nearly 40 years. With tax time fast approaching, I thought my story might be food for thought.)
Any nation needs three things in order to wage war: young men and women to join the military, billions of dollars to finance a war, and a compliant and complicit public. Those of us who oppose war can take action in any or all of these three arenas. Refusing to pay taxes for war can be an important part of an overall strategy to end war, and I have tried to do my small part to obstruct wars by trying not to pay for them. As many war tax resisters have discovered, this is easier said than done.
I refuse to pay any federal income tax, because I know that 50% of every dollar I send to the IRS will go to the military. Each year I do my taxes and send my completed tax forms to the IRS with a letter explaining why I refuse to pay for war, usually itemizing all the countries we are waging war on that particular year.
For the first ten years of resisting taxes, I worked in a hospital as an Intensive Care Unit nurse, and the IRS garnished my wages. The hospital took $25 out of my paycheck every week and sent it to the IRS, but since I owed them several thousand dollars it would have taken them the rest of my life to ever get the full amount. However, after I left that job and went into private practice the IRS could no longer garnish my wages, so about every five years they would put a levy on my bank account or IRA. Sometimes whole wars would go by before they would collect on me. In 1991, after no collections for eight years, suddenly they put a levy on my bank accounts and cleaned out every penny. I remember thinking at the time, “Well, I didn’t pay for the Contras war in Nicaragua, I didn’t pay for the bombing of El Salvador or the invasion of Grenada, but I paid for the (first) Gulf War. I only paid for one out of four wars.”
In the past ten years, the IRS has escalated its efforts to collect taxes from me, putting a levy on my bank accounts nearly every year, and adding more penalties and late fees. A few years ago, they sent me a letter claiming I had filed a “frivolous tax return,” because, as always, I filed my taxes and attached a letter saying why I was refusing to pay taxes. The IRS threatened to charge me a $5,000 fine for this “crime.” Luckily, after a consultation with NWTRCC’s legal advisor, I sent a letter to the IRS which resulted in the threat being dropped.
I wrote two books as an adjunct of my counseling work, Love in Abundance in 2010 and The Jealousy Workbook in 2013, and both books were published by Greenery Press. As soon as the second book came out, I started to receive angry phone calls and letters from the publisher, because the IRS had contacted them and demanded that they send my royalty checks to them instead of to me. This was similar to a wage garnishment, except that the IRS can take the total amount of my royalties, which they have done for the past two years. My publisher has been pressuring me to pay the taxes because they don’t want to deal with the IRS.
When this started, I was in the middle of writing my third book, but now Greenery Press has decided not to publish the book. They won’t say the IRS is the reason, but I am making an educated guess that there has been a cause and effect relationship. Ironically, I currently owe the IRS over $20,000 in taxes, and my royalties are less than $2,000 a year. The IRS could get the full amount much faster through their previous strategy of putting a lien on my bank accounts since they know that the full amount is sitting there. It is obviously an attempt by the IRS to punish me by disrupting my relationship with my publisher. Unfortunately, so far they are succeeding in making it more difficult for me to continue getting my books published.
Many people have noted the apparent futility of doing war tax resistance since the IRS often gets their money in the end. Friends ask “Since they eventually collect on you anyway, why don’t you just pay them?” My answer is that I am psychologically incapable of writing a check to the IRS when I know it will be spent to kill, maim, and torture people around the world. I just can’t bring myself to do it. All I can do is withhold it as long as possible. I won’t give it to them willingly. If more people refused to pay taxes, my tiny acts of resistance might have more impact.