The Financial Priorities of Local Governments Mirror the Federal Government

In 2017, I attended a retreat at the Su Casa Catholic Worker in Chicago where the black-led #LetUsBreathe Collective guided a mostly white gathering of Catholic Workers through various anti-racism exercises and candidly related the harsh racist reality of policing in the City of Chicago. They noted that approximately 50% of Chicago’s budget was dedicated to the police department, particularly when counting the millions of dollars the city pays out in lawsuits resulting from police misconduct. (“Misconduct” seems to be a totally inadequate term!) The group has regularly called for the city to redirect its $1.4 billion police budget to programs that would better serve the community. Imagine what could be accomplished with $1.4 billion! When I was informed that […]

Protest in the Time of Coronavirus

march 19 Brooklyn NY

On March 19 — just last week before the state really shut down — our NYC War Resisters League group held vigils in three areas of the city. A few of us walked to the busy traffic circle at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and stood with our signs to mark the 17th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and demand an end to endless war. Because there wasn’t much else going on, drivers zipping by and people walking in and out of the park turned their heads to see what we were up to. Despite some controversy in our group about whether protesting in a time of pandemic was a good idea, we got plenty of supportive honks and […]

Military Spending- What’s Your Vote?

gun graphic by Leani Auxilio

In the spring of 2019, the Trump administration asked $750 billion dollars for the military budget. The increase would fund the Pentagon’s capacity to provide and enhance domestic security. But just what does $750 billion get us? Where exactly does the money go? As we approach Tax Day and the presidential campaign heats up, it seems fitting to ask these questions. In May 2019, the Nation broke down military spending to better reflect just how much money the Pentagon is operating with. They studied the base, the war, the nuclear, the defense-related, Veteran’s Affairs, Homeland Security, international affairs, and the intelligence budget. Their investigation revealed that a large sum of the Pentagon’s budget is wasted. For example, the Pentagon is […]

A Visit with IRS Revenue Officers Justin and Ryan

During the Vietnam War, I joined Friends (Quakers) and other peace activists at the Post Office on tax day to pass out War Resister League pie charts showing how much of our national budget was spent on war. In the late 1970’s, I heard Richard Catlett and Bruce Chrisman speak about their war tax resistance at a Friends gathering and was inspired by their witness. Getting through medical school gave me the courage to begin resisting payment of war taxes. As an employee, I have inflated my withholding allowances. When I was in family practice, I lowered my salary to below the taxable income level to prevent collection. As a contract physician, I paid what I owed in self-employment taxes […]

War, conscience, and war tax resistance as a movement

demonstration photo war tax resisters

Maybe because I was in Massachusetts over the weekend, the Colrain house seizure story from 1989 – 1993 was on my mind today. And then I remembered something I had neglected to do, which was to post a talk by longtime war tax resister and Massachusetts resident Larry Rosenwald. Larry was a panelist at the 25th anniversary Colrain reunion in November 2018. The panel topic was “The impacts Colrain might have had on the national WTR movement and thoughts on the current state of the WTR and the peace movement.” By “Colrain” we mean not just a house seizure, but the four years of organizing, vigils and civil disobedience at the seized property under the banner “It’s wrong to confiscate […]

Tom Haws 2019

Dear IRS Employee, As a conscientious objector to war, I will not pay my 2018 income tax. I believe war killing is wrong and therefore I cannot pay for it. There are other ways for nations to resolve their conflicts with one another besides through war killing. The U.S. government spends nearly half its budget on war & preparations for war. This type of spending does not reflect my humanitarian values and therefore I will not support it. I am paying my self-employment tax ($7,055; line 57). I am sending that amount to you. I am sending the remaining amount of my income tax due ($1,577; line 13) to the People’s Life Fund to be held until the U.S. Government […]

David and Jan Hartsough 2019

Dear Friends at the IRS, We cannot in conscience pay for the killing of other human beings or pay for war and preparations for war. Human life is too precious to drop bombs on people because we do not like their governments. Developing a new generation of nuclear weapons which could put an end to life on our beautiful planet is immoral and insane.. Giving the Pentagon hundreds of billions of dollars does not increase the security of our people when we are cutting funds for schools, libraries, job training, and now even the EPA, diplomacy work at the State Department., and transition to a renewable energy future. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, and increased use […]

War Tax and Vortex: It’s a Matter of Priorities

Man holding a sign reading"Seeking Human Kindness "

While I have been involved in War Tax Resistance(WTR) for the past 20 years,  I have paid property taxes to the City of St. Louis. Five years ago I bought a house at one of the many tax sales where the city sells houses for the back taxes owed after not being paid for 5 years. I, like many others wait until the last week of the year to pay these taxes. This year when I pulled up to City Hall there was a man sleeping on a steam grate with some possessions surrounding him. It was particularly jarring this day as I was coming to pay my taxes to the city. I started to leave and then returned to […]

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 […]

No to NATO 2019

At our November 2018 meeting in Cleveland, NWTRCC endorsed the No to NATO, No to Racism call from the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), including a major mobilization to protest NATO’s meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 2019, and other actions on April 4. NWTRCC chose to meet in Chicago during the weekend of the major protests against the NATO meeting there in May 2012. We participated in the major protest march and leafletted heavily during the preceding rally. Our stand against militarism includes all spending for NATO and similar militarist alliances, whether ostensibly “defensive” or “offensive” in nature. UNAC’s mobilization call says, in part, “It was exactly one year before he was murdered [on April 4, 1968] that […]

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 […]