Filing and Refusing – Step-by-Step

This page is for people who choose to file tax forms with the IRS but want to resist some or all of their taxes to protest or stop paying for war.

Step 1 — Refusal Options

Refuse a small, symbolic token amount, such as $10, $10.40, $100, etc. This gets the IRS’s attention, but with less chance of consequences. It’s also simple.

Refuse a percentage of your taxes equivalent to the percentage of the federal budget used for war/military purposes. This shows that you will not support that use. For example, you might reduce the tax you pay by: 3% — the proportion of income tax to be spent on the military occupations of the endless war on terror, or 27% — the proportion of income tax slated for current military expenses, or 45% — the part spent on total military expenses.

Refuse all of the federal income tax — because the government will spend a portion of every tax dollar on war purposes.

Step 2 — Withholding Adjustments

If you have gotten a federal income tax refund in the past or anticipate one next time you file, you cannot resist unless you make adjustments to your withholding or estimated taxes.

Salaried employees can make a decision to increase the number of deduction on their W-4 form at any time in order to owe federal income taxes on April 15, and then you can choose how much you want to refuse. You do not need to explain to your employer your increase in W-4 deductions. Take the form home and fill it out and return only the first page of the form, not the worksheet (page 3), to your employer. For more information on W-4 deductions, IRS regulation, risks and consequences, see Practical #1 or talk to a WTR counselor. You can restore the number of W-4 deductions to your original number at any time. We recommend that you not claim “exempt” on the W-4 unless you qualify per the instructions on the form. The IRS withholding calculator, may be useful in showing if you have credits and deductions that will affect the number of deductions you take.

If you are self-employed, and therefore don’t use a W-4 form, you must adjust the amount of estimated taxes you pay quarterly in order to resist when you file.


Step 3 — How to File as a War Tax Resister

Typical Process:

File your Form 1040 on or before April 15. Fill out the form normally per the IRS filing instructions. To avoid being considered a “frivolous filer” (an IRS category) and being subject to frivolous filing penalties, do not make extraneous claims or write your thoughts on the form.

You can enclose a letter that explains your refusal to pay part (or all) of your taxes. Many war tax resisters send the letter to explain their refusal to pay is an act of conscience, of civil disobedience. War tax resistance is about refusal to pay for war, not promoting tax evasion or challenging the constitutionality of taxation or war taxes. Carefully arrange your thoughts and include in your letter topics such as conscience, economic and moral consequences of war, nonviolence beliefs, misappropriation of public funds for harmful means, or where your redirected taxes are going.

Include your letter with your 1040 filing. Do not staple it to the form. You may choose to forward a copy of the letter to local media, elected officials, peace groups, etc. Do not expect any response from the IRS to the letter. See sample letters.

Step 4 — Redirecting Taxes

War tax resistance is an act of conscience or noncooperation. While some may choose to set aside resisted taxes in case of an IRS collection, many resisters redirect some or all of refused taxes to a nonmilitary purpose.

Step 5 — Make your resistance public.

Sign up on our War Tax Boycott page.

Step 6 — Understand the potential consequences of your war tax resistance

See the Consequences page on our website.