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 […]

Conscience and History: Frivolous Filing

image of black mailbox with 10 IRS envelopes sticking out the top

At my very first NWTRCC meeting in 2008 in Eugene, we met a local couple who had resisted $50 of their taxes as their first foray into war tax resistance. Along with their return, and a check for the total tax amount minus $50, they enclosed a letter explaining their reasons for resisting. Unfortunately, the couple received an alarming-looking letter from the IRS, accusing them of making a “frivolous” argument about why they weren’t paying their taxes. The letter threatened them with a $5,000 frivolous filing penalty if they did not re-file their taxes. Even though the couple complied, and paid the $50 they had resisted, the IRS fined them $5,000 each. Eventually, by contacting the Taxpayer Advocate and their […]

Milwaukee 14 – 50 Years Later

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee 14, in which fourteen men (during the planning stage there were also two women in the group, but that’s another story) raided a federal office in downtown Milwaukee, removed around 10,000 draft files, and burned them with home-made napalm. Though the fourteen faced decades in prison, each served about one year. Though largely forgotten today, the action made national headlines in 1968 & Howard Zinn served as an expert witness at the trial for the defense. An event was held in Milwaukee this past September to commemorate the event. Joined by friends & family, most of the fourteen that are still living made the trip to Milwaukee. The event was a […]

Is the IRS Getting More Active?

a hand sliding a US passport into a pocket of a black bag

At NWTRCC gatherings, we always have cards on a back table so attendees can write notes of support to those who are facing garnishment or some other type of IRS action. At our last NWTRCC meeting in May, we mainly signed cards for those regular attendees that could not come due to ill health or difficulties traveling. Regarding IRS action, we only knew of folks having their social security payments garnished—mostly at 15%. The last couple years, when I’ve spoken to groups about war tax resistance, I’ve mentioned the relatively low risk of collection, although every case is different. Until earlier this year, I had been a wage employee since 2004 without a single garnishment. (I always remind groups that […]

Celebrating a Triumph over the IRS, with Redirection

Chanticleer

For the first time this year one of my outstanding tax debts hit the ten-year statute of limitations for collection. During those ten years, the IRS sent me increasingly exasperated letters, threatened me with thousands of dollars of interest & penalties, and even seized $469 from my bank account once. But this year the remaining $3,226 I owed slipped permanently out of their reach, and the interest & penalties evaporated too. I called their bluff, waited them out, and won (well, except for that $469). (Note: this statute of limitations does not apply to people who refuse to file returns, or if the IRS can show that you did not file honestly, correctly, and completely. It only applies if you file […]

Certified Mail from the IRS

excerpt of an IRS letter with the heading "Notice of Intent to Levy - Amount due immediately: $1,955.87"

Over the past few weeks, several resisters in the NWTRCC network have reported getting unusually swift Notices of Intent to Levy by certified mail from the IRS. (A Notice of Intent to Levy is the last letter the IRS must send you before they can begin collection action, assuming you don’t dispute their tax assessment or pay up. For a quick guide to some other common IRS letters, see this blog post.) Ruth Benn reports getting a certified letter for the first time in years. (She had refused to sign for other certified letters in the past. As a result, for a while the IRS sent her Notices of Intent by regular first-class mail.) Larry Bassett reports: “I have come […]

The president, his taxes and the resistance

“The I.R.S. Should Go After Trump” was a headline on an op-ed piece in the New York Times  that jumped out at me the other day. In part I’m always interested in articles about the IRS, and it did impart some good information on their practices. It also reminded me of all the brouhaha around Trump not releasing his taxes and those who said they would not pay until he did so. The author, Phillip Hackney is a former lawyer for the chief counsel of the IRS, so he knows something about the inner workings of the agency. His piece was inspired by the New York State attorney general going after the nonprofit Trump Foundation for using a charitable organization […]

Why Bother?

Getting out of bed on a chilly and windy Sunday, about the last thing I wanted to do was go out to a rally and march that afternoon. I had to give myself an extra kick. After all, it was April 15 and a perfect day to do outreach about war tax resistance. On the one hand, I can’t say it was the best event I’d ever been to. I tire of endless speakers speaking mostly to the converted — a full two hours of that before the march to Trump Tower, so the crowd of some hundreds steadily dwindled before the march began. On the subway on the way home I was thinking of other things I could have […]

“If I don’t hear you, it’s not illegal!”

Ned Flanders from the Simpsons sits upright in bed, fireworks going off in the window behind him, chuckles, and says, "January 1st. Better get on those taxes, Neddy."

Every year since becoming a war tax resister, it has taken me longer and longer to file my taxes. I used to be one of those people who filed their tax return in late January, early February. I was only somewhat less serious than Ned Flanders in the Simpsons episode, “The Trouble With Trillions” (S9E20). Ned wakes up at midnight, January 1, to start doing his taxes, and mails them when the post office opens in the morning. (Okay, so usually the IRS doesn’t even release the prior year’s tax form until sometime later in January, but that’s a small detail.) But I always fill out my tax return accurately. Personally, I’m not looking for extra trouble with the IRS beyond […]

Tax Overhaul – First Look for WTRs

How will the new tax bill affect war tax resisters (WTRs)? This is something we will all be learning by experience in the next couple years. One thing that is clear: the IRS is pretty overwhelmed by all the new work and continued budget cuts. That makes it harder for them to enforce collection (although personally, since I resist as a protest, I’d just as soon not be totally ignored). So, for a first look, here are a few things that come to mind: If you don’t file, you probably get to ignore the whole thing, at least as far as tax details and forms go, unless you’re a wage employee (see below). You might not ignore the fact that […]

More on IRS collection tactics

In a previous blog post, we reported the experience of one war tax resister that the IRS typically sends two letters before sending the Notice of Intent to Levy (see picture to the left for an example).  This year, however, a few resisters have reported getting only one letter before the Notice of Intent. One resister usually gets three letters before the Notice of Intent, and this year only got one. By sending fewer letters before the Notice of Intent, the IRS gives itself the opportunity to seize money from your bank accounts or wages sooner. But often, nothing happens regardless. If you have gotten fewer (or the same, or more) letters about your 2016 tax bill so far this […]

Tangled Up In Banking

I’ve probably said this before, but it is rather funny how often discussions about war tax resistance lead to questions about banking. If you have a tax debt, having assets is, of course, problematic, and holding that money in an account with your social security number makes it vulnerable to seizure. A no-interest account offers some protection, because U.S. banks report annual interest of $10 or more to the IRS — a direct link back to your bank account(s). If the thought of not earning interest pains you, check out Juanita Nelson’s essay “On Interest” — written a few decades ago but still important food-for-thought. One of the positive side-effects of war tax resistance is that it can lead you […]