Tax Day 2019 Report Back

Like many, I awoke Monday morning with anticipation for Tax Day. My excitement was related to thinking of the many throughout the US who would be resisting giving money to pay for war and raising the issue of bloated military spending to the general public through leafleting, holding vigils and marches.  NWTRCC had been busy in the lead up to April 15, sending out copies of the War Resisters League’s annual Pie Chart and information about how to resist paying taxes for war with packets to communities gathering on this day. Additional posts were made on social media, especially with tweets of the many ways people were refusing to pay taxes for war.  Lists of communities taking action were compiled […]

Terrible Taxes in History

Tax Day in the United States is Monday April 15 in most states (April 17 in Maine & Massachusetts). So I thought a post on terrible taxes in history would be appropriate. Back in December, HistoryExtra.com published an article about ten terrible taxes. (HistoryExtra is the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC World Histories Magazine.) One downside of the article from an American perspective is that all of the taxes listed were English-enforced, but it’s still interesting and has some parallels with American taxes today. Here are a few of the unpopular taxes from their list: (1) The poll tax became more common in England at the end of the fourteenth century. It charged a flat tax per […]

Increasing “Lethality” of Drones

There have been a couple news stories in March about American military drones. On 6 March 2019, Trump signed an executive order ending the requirement that CIA officials “report civilian deaths in drone attacks outside active war zones.” Trump referred to the requirement as a distraction. Obama put the requirement in place in 2016, during the last year of his presidency. (The Pentagon is still required to report civilian deaths to Congress, but the CIA program is responsible for covert drone strikes outside of war zones.) According the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there were 1,878 drone strikes during Obama’s eight years in office, which was a dramatic increase compared to the drone use by George W. Bush. During Trump’s first […]

WTRs in the Era of IRS Budget Cuts

The poor, underfunded IRS has been ignoring me lately. I get the usual two or three letters a year asking for payment or threatening levies, but I’m not getting enough personal attention to write about my own case in a monthly blog. However, I do know some others who have the long arm of the government reaching into their pockets. On the one hand there’s less to fear from the IRS; on the other hand potential resisters still have to know about the risks. A longtime resister who lives on a low income but has tax debt is suffering with a salary levy now. Although she works very part-time as a therapist, the levy is taking something from each check, […]

Chinese Tariffs for War Continue…

The trade war with China continues to fund real wars. Back in September, I wrote a blog post about the tariffs the United States has imposed on Chinese-imported goods. I have been reticent to write about this in the newsletter because the situation is in constant flux, which could make a newsletter article obsolete by the time it reaches your hands. But I do not want it to fall off our radar, so I thought I better compose a blog update for it. Last week, Trump met with Chinese representatives to reach a new trade agreement. The current tariff list is almost 200 pages long, consisting of over 4,000 items. If an agreement is not reached by March 1st, the […]

To Owe or Not to Owe: Tax Time 2019

For the first time in decades I find myself in danger of not owing federal income tax. As a resister/protester, this is unacceptable! I am self-employed, so I usually do a rough run-through on my taxes before the January 15 deadline for sending in last quarter estimated taxes. As a war tax resister I have chosen to file and openly refuse to pay the federal income tax portion. By the time I was working in the peace movement and learned about war tax resistance I was already in the system, and I liked the protest angle of openly refusing to pay so I just continued filing. For some years Social Security/Medicare (“self-employment tax”) were withheld from my paycheck, and when […]

U.S. Troop Withdrawal from the Middle East

In the latter half of December, President Trump announced the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria along with an additional withdrawal of 7,000 troops (a 50% reduction) from Afghanistan. Originally, Trump gave the military thirty days to remove troops from Syria, but now has extended the deadline to four months. One would think this news would have brought a tremendous amount of holiday cheer, but folks of blue and red persuasions have been lambasting Trump over the decision. I do not pretend to have an expert grasp the political situation in Syria. (Here is a brief synopsis of the current situation in Syria). But along with groups like World Beyond War, I want to pressure President Trump to […]

How Much Do You Make?

  A story from Finland jumped out of the paper at me recently: “In Finland, Every Citizen’s Taxable Income Is Revealed” (NY Times, 11/2/2018). The article describes a surprising tradition in that country. Many in Finland feel that this transparency helps to control the gap between high and low incomes and to control disparities in pay for the same work. Executives seem to think twice before raising their own salaries. One interviewee said Finns tend to be humble; “If you show it around, no one likes you,” he said. Such an idea must make that guy in the White House cringe. The rest of us can certainly see advantages to having such a release be automatic as far as trying […]

Old Propaganda War Tax Films

One of the highlights of the November 2018 NWTRCC conference in Cleveland was the preview showing of The Pacifist. As mentioned by Erica in a previous post, the film follows Larry Bassett’s refusal to pay over $100,000 in taxes. The film is still making the rounds of the film festival circuit, so is not yet available to the general public. However, an audio version of the film is FREE online through Spotify and Apple Music audio streaming services (sign-up required). You can also watch a scene from the film on Facebook. Throughout the film, there were several archival film clips promoting the payment of federal taxes to support war and, by default, democracy (according to the film clips). During the […]

Colrain after 25 Years: Learning from an action

A summary of a great weekend at the New England Gathering of War Tax Resisters Woolman Hill, Deerfield, Massachusetts, November 16-18, 2018 Between 1989 and 1993, hundreds of people flocked to Colrain, Mass., to voice their opposition to war and military spending by supporting the war tax resistance (WTR) of Betsy Corner and Randy Kehler when the IRS seized their home. You can read about them and a synopsis of the house seizure here – and through many other web links. About 50 people turned up during the reunion weekend to share personal impacts, reflections, analysis, and lessons of the Colrain action. There were also presentations and perspectives on the military budget and the current state of the WTR and the […]

Tariffs for War?

image of a container ship loaded up at sea

I feel fairly good about my twenty years of war tax resistance. At times you might even say I feel smug. With the purpose of promoting a more peaceful world, I have redirected those funds to various people, groups, and movements. But I have not been able to avoid financial support for war entirely. I have paid the federal excise tax on gasoline, airline tickets, alcohol, though I try to keep these purchases to a minimum. Starting on September 24, 2018, the US government will impose tariffs on numerous Chinese goods. As a recent Yahoo! article notes, “by Election Day in November, Trump will have placed new tariffs on $250 billion worth of stuff Americans buy every day.” Though the […]

Laugh, Cry, Carry On! Mining NWTRCC’s Archives

As Erica mentioned in her post last week, I’ve been clearing out old war tax resistance files and sorting those that will go to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.  Along with many other peace groups — War Resisters League, National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — NWTRCC sends our newsletters, audio-visual materials, literature, and other organizing papers to the archive. The Peace Collection also saves our website periodically, so that online information will be available to researchers. Going through the files is quite a project, and you have to be very disciplined to press along and not read every note, every flyer, and every letter sent to the IRS or elected officials […]