“The Customary Band of Pickets”

Line of pickets at IRS NYC

No troublesome incidents of any kind developed in the course of the day, although the customary band of pickets turned up outside the Forty-fifth Street headquarters for an hour at noon. Recruited by members of the Tax Refusal Committee of Peacemakers, of Sharonville, Ohio, were representatives of the War Resisters League, 5 Beekman Place, and The Catholic Worker, 223 Christie Street. They either refused to pay Federal income taxes or sympathized with those who did not because “the huge program of armaments can only lead to a third world war.” Weapons, it was claimed, eat up seven-eighths of the national budget. In Philadelphia, other groups of pacifists objected on the same grounds. Published: March 17, 1953. Copyright © The New […]

Your Rights: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

Who wants to hassle with the IRS. Of course it’s a pain in the behind dealing with an agency that ranges from bullying to inefficient to inconsistent in following their own procedures. But, if we want to make a statement about refusing to pay for war, hassles come with the territory and are actually the least of the risks that a resister could face. So I was distressed to read the warning in the last issue of NWTRCC’s newsletter about sending a letter with tax forms which might lead to hassles with the IRS. In a rare success for this form of resistance, we won for the right to send those letters expressing our beliefs, complaints, and reasons for refusal. […]

Can the IRS

“Can the IRS” was one of my favorite actions at the IRS. It was organized by John-Ed Croft, a homeless artist with a creative, activist mindset. This was the fall of 1987, and John-Ed was living in a squat at the time, but had also spent many a night in an unused building in Central Park and a lot of time in what he called a “cardboard condominium” in midtown Manhattan. John-Ed came by the War Resisters League office where I was working to ask for support for his latest campaign. The IRS was after him for more than $11,000 in back taxes, and he had decided to pay them “in the currency of the homeless.” He was organizing the […]

A ‘War Story’ and a ‘New Start’: How I learned to Oppose War and Stop Paying for the Bomb

We each come into this work in our own ways. The first war I was aware of was the amorphous Cold War. I did not know much about it other than it was between the U.S. and USSR. I was oblivious of nuclear weapons and the oblivion they could cause to the Earth. How we frame war and the stories we tell greatly impact people’s ability to relate to the stories.   I was reminded that with the 30th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Iraq recently. The anniversary did not register for me at the time of the bombing. I was still in elementary school and my exposure to the war was having a classmate’s sister who was in the […]

Georgia Still On My Mind

As the spectacle of the departure of the 45th president unfolds, the unraveling of the U.S. Empire is witnessed by many watching under stay at home orders the world over. As the events unfold, my mind returns to Georgia and the incredible work of grassroots organizers to push for change in what became a linchpin in the balance of government. The accomplishments of largely women of color would become overshadowed by white men with guns. My own journey towards justice began in Georgia and the grassroots organizing efforts of the School of the America Watch. Founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois’s words often come to mind that most  of the problems of the world boil down to “men with guns.”  It was […]

Don’t Pay for What You Don’t Want

Nelson Homestead

“I don’t want to pay for what I don’t want. I won’t buy what I don’t want. I’m that way with everything. So, why not war? I don’t want it either…” — Juanita Nelson on Democracy Now! During this season of Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, big online retailer vans and trucks crowding streets and highways, advertisements for all manner of plastic stuff, etc., it’s a great time to remember Wally and Juanita Nelson. They lived lives centered around their belief in nonviolence as a way of life, a belief that led Wally to prison for refusing to fight in WWII. A belief that led the couple to refuse to pay taxes for war. A belief that evolved to an exemplary […]

Tax Resistance, Self-Employment and Health Insurance

DECISIONS, DECISIONS It’s a thorny problem when the complications of obtaining health insurance intersect with the desire to remain a nonfiling tax resister. This is exactly where I found myself when my luck ran out on the premium tax credit. As a self-employed freelancer, I have to purchase my own health insurance. For the past few years I was able to prove to the state’s insurance marketplace that my income was low enough to qualify by sending copies of my properly filled out but not filed tax forms. I knew it was a risky move when I started, and after the first year I thought I was in the clear. But now they’ve caught up with me and it’s not […]

All or Nothing Syndrome

Over these decades of doing war tax resistance, being in meetings about war tax resistance, counseling current or new resisters, etc., I’ve tried to argue against something I will call the “all or nothing syndrome.” “I can’t live below taxable income so I can’t resist.” “We’re having a baby so I have to stop resisting.” “I’m applying for a loan so I have to stop resisting.” “The IRS just took my bank account so I have to stop resisting.” “I like the idea but I can’t risk my job by becoming a war tax resister.” I don’t want to be snooty and judgmental about it. People hit a wall and feel there is no way around it for all kinds […]

U.S. Tax History- It Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But It Often Rhymes

women holding signs above their heads while gathered outside

Like many of you, I found it easy to get lost in the Trump tax troves published in the New York Times last Sunday. I felt a feverish attempt to scour through it to find some of the starker elements and decipher how it relates to war tax resistance. Some of the long anticipated information that had been shrouded in secrecy was available to all. I was curious about the details of how the supposed “leader of the free world” was able to game the U.S. tax system, but I was also curious as to how the general public would respond to this new information. It seemed many realized that those with money bent the tax laws to benefit themselves.  […]

Note to Self: Change Can Come

Yesterday I had a lovely swim in the ocean with friends who had rented a beach house for a couple weeks. What a privilege to float on my back looking up at the blue sky or to watch the sanderlings skittering along the perfect sand beach. Nature is awe-inspiring. Today I’m back at the computer, starting the day off with a dose of a different reality from Democracy Now and other news sources. In the face of all that… …I’m thinking about the courage of so many nonviolent activists who are out there in the streets, across the country, day after day demanding change in the face of many dangers — now including the guns of white supremacists. …I’m looking […]

Doomsday 2020

At the start of 2020, the Doomsday Clock was moved to 100 Seconds to Midnight. This is the closest the clock has been to a nuclear catastrophe (midnight) since its inception in 1947 as a project of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. When the hands were moved in January, three reasons were cited: (1) decrease in regulation of nuclear weapons, (2) climate change, and (3) increase in cyber-based disinformation. It appears that concerns in these areas have only increased as the year has progressed.  It was 75 years ago at 8:15 in the morning on August 6th, when the U.S. warplane Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” the first atomic weapon, on the people of  Hiroshima. Three days later Nagaski was […]

Loving the Hell out of People

John Lewis biography cover

Congressman and peace, justice and civil rights activist John Lewis was a longtime sponsor in the House of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. With his death on July 17 tributes abound and interviews with him can be found online (Democracy Now has a good one). Short of personal stories about Lewis (please add yours in comments!), I was glad to find this essay by longtime Peace Tax Fund director Marian Franz. It was originally written for the organization’s newsletter in 1998 and is included in A Persistent Voice: Marian Franz and Conscientious Objection to Military Taxation, edited by David R. Bassett, Steve Ratzlaff & Tim Godshall. Consider this post as offering two tips for summer reading also. — […]