“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 […]

Questioning Death and Taxes

woman holding pink sign with black text: "Taxes For Healthcare NOT Warfare"

While there has been some comparison of military spending versus medical costs, it seems as though many are less willing to address the issue of societal sickness caused by military spending. It needs to be named, identified, and articulated. And even fewer people refuse to stop paying for death and destruction. At a recent webinar with U.N. officials, the Vatican called for disarmament in light of the health crisis experienced as a result of the coronavirus from a humanizing perspective: “The pandemic offers us a precious opportunity… prompts us to question how much the huge military expenditures are really able to guarantee the security of individual populations, of how much these resources could and should be allocated to investments to […]

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 […]

Militarism Sinks Social Progress

Tax Day July 2020 NYC

Tax season is here — well, almost, since the IRS announced that filing can start on Feb. 12. Now is the time when many of you start asking War Resisters League when the new pie chart flyer  will be ready. Hopefully you will be making plans for a safe and socially distanced public presence of some sort on tax day 2021, still expected to be Thursday, April 15. As you may recall, tax day 2020 was moved to July 15, and WRL ended up with lots of leftover pie charts because leafleting was limited or curtailed by pandemic concerns. Note that the back of last year’s pie chart was a call to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to mark the 75th anniversary […]

Hindsight, Looking Forward with 2020 Vision

As 2020 comes to a close, it seems like a good time to look back to where we have been; have clear eyes about where we are headed in order to forge a new path. By January 15th 2021, 5,ooo total U.S. troops are poised to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.  After a height of 170,000 troops in Iraq and 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and over 19 years of war this appears to be welcome news to the longest ongoing war in U.S. history. A former Marine captain wrote “Two Costly Wars and a Legacy of Shame” in the New York Times that the US Defense Department alone spent $6 trillion dollars “costing each American taxpayer an estimate more than […]

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 […]

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 […]

War Tax Resistance beyond the 2020 elections

At the last NWTRCC national gathering in May 2020, some of our members suggested having a study group to look at issues emerging during COVID-19. The group has met weekly and has discussed a variety of issues over the past months—mostly as it relates to militarism. In recent weeks the conversations have been focused on the elections. People have expressed concerns about the peaceful transfer of power, voter suppression, and armed groups at polling places or potentially in the streets resisting election results.  A component of the study group is sharing articles and resources with each other that encourage reflection, discussion, and action. We wanted to share some reflections on the upcoming election and resources (that you can find at […]

Financial State of NWTRCC & Bequest Campaign

Unless you attend NWTRCC’s bi-annual business meeting or check out our annual reports, you might not be aware of NWTRCC’s financial situation. NWTRCC runs on a shoe-string budget. Our expenses last year were just over $58,000. Around 70% of our expenses—or about $42,000—were used to pay for NWTRCC’s two consultants. The remainder of the expenses were used to fund our biannual meetings, newsletter, website, and to keep our materials up-to-date. The website has definitely become our most highly utilized resource, with over 38,000 unique visitors checking out the NWTRCC site so far in 2020. (The average visitor looks at 9 different pages on our website.) To help meet these expenses and make NWTRCC as helpful as possible to war tax […]

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.  […]

Planning Ahead

“What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?” was the title of a September 3 op-ed by New York Times conservative columnist (but no fan of the current president) David Brooks. In it he says, If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it. Letters-to-the-editor ran in response on Sunday, September 20. In one letter from a Stuart Esten in Burlington, Massachusetts, he dismissed legal action or street protests as being “hopeless” and “ineffective” […]

Sick of War

NWTRCC is hosting a war tax resistance 101 on Tuesday September 22 as part of Campaign Nonviolence’s Peace Week.  The session will provide information to people who are interested in divesting their tax money from the Pentagon and investing in their communities. The session will focus on empowering people to take action against military spending by presenting the various approaches to WTR and the potential consequences, as well as noting the many resources available to support this direct action against increased militarism impacting our communities. Please consider sharing on your social media platforms or with someone in your life who has expressed interest in WTR, but would like to get more information. This Zoom is for them! It seems that […]