War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund

The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund is a Way People Can Directly Assist War Tax Resisters

When the IRS collects taxes owed, they often levy penalties and interest. For some resisters, paying these penalties and interest is a heavy burden. The penalty fund reimburses them for those costs.

In providing this mutual aid, penalty fund supporters hope to sustain and expand war tax resistance as a form of conscientious objection to war. The penalty fund reduces the risk for war tax resisters by compensating them for their loss of penalties and interest if war taxes are seized from them by the IRS. It does not compensate them for the tax itself.

How the Fund Works

The penalty fund steering committee reviews requests from resisters against whom the IRS has already moved. Tax resisters are asked to provide documentation of the penalties and interest collected. The amount requested is divided by the number of active names on our list of supporters to arrive at a “share,” and an appeal goes out.

A share is never more than $30; if penalties and interest add up to more than this amount per supporter, it is separated into more than one appeal. There are never more than three appeals in any year.

Some supporters can’t afford the full amount of a share; they pay what they can. Others pay more than the requested amount.

Spread out among all of us, we are able to send thousands of dollars to help war tax resisters continue to refuse to pay for war. Many war tax resisters are never collected on, and for those who are, we have removed the risk of financial loss.

Community of Support

For those able to do it, conscience dictates that we protest the conscription of our money for activities we would never consent to if we had to do them ourselves. Military tax resistance is a witness to the vigorous exercise of personal conscience, and to the power of peace. Resisters are buoyed by the fellowship of people who want to share in this nonviolent action.

In every penalty fund appeal, we publish the testimonies of resisters who have requested support. They say it best in word and deed. From some recent recipients:

♦︎ “I do not object to taxation of income, and I would not object to paying my fair share of
taxes for positive, life-enhancing government programs, but I will not pay someone to
kill in my name or to make weapons whose sole purpose is to threaten life…We must practice
being moral in order to become moral.” LB

♦︎ “But even though [my tax refusal is] merely symbolic, it’s something, some very little
thing, in an effort to stand with those…in Iraq, and those in the United States, who have
gone without health care, decent schools, roads, lived in poverty so that we might spread
the American empire across the globe.” MP

♦︎ “I cannot in conscience pay for war and killing, weapons and bombs, destruction of
families and communities—these our federal taxes perpetuate. I have tried by the work I
choose and the life style I have chosen, to, in a small way, create another reality in
which violence and threat of violence are unimaginable and un-useful.” JS

♦︎ “Thanks to the support [from] near and far through the penalty fund, I feel that I am as
firmly rooted in my resistance now as when I began way back in 1987.” JM

Shulamith, a steering committee member, says although she hasn’t needed the penalty fund, it helped give her the courage to resist for the first time, just knowing others had her back.

Jazmyn says she once thought she might need the penalty fund, but never did. “Being a contributor hinders the military machinery that seems to roll without interference.”

Many penalty fund members say they aren’t in a position to be war tax resisters themselves at this time, but they strongly support the movement, such as Fran, who “appreciates the courage of WTRs” and is glad to help.

Our supporters very much appreciate the chance to use the penalty fund to help those who are resisting.

If you’d like to download and print our brochure, you can find it here (PDF).

How to Join the Fund

Send us your name, street address and email address (if you would like to help us save the cost of stamps) by one of these methods:

♦︎ Fill in the registration form
♦︎ Email: webmaster@nwtrcc.org
♦︎ U.S. mail: 1036 N. Niles Ave South Bend, IN 46617

How to Contribute to the Penalty Fund

Note: Donations to the penalty fund are not tax deductible.

♦︎ Pay by PayPal or secure credit card by clicking the DONATE button

♦︎ Write a check made out to War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund and mail to:
WTRPF, 1036 N. Niles Ave
South Bend, IN 46617

How a War Tax Resister Can Request Assistance

Contact us by mail (see above) or email webmaster@nwtrcc.org and we will explain the simple application process. You do not need to be a member of the penalty fund before applying for aid, but we hope you will join afterward.

We ask resisters to provide:
♦︎ Copies of correspondence with the IRS, including a printout with a listing of the
penalties and interest for the year(s) in question, which people can get by asking for their
tax account from https://www.irs.gov/individuals/Get-Transcript

♦︎ Copies of letters of conscience they sent to the IRS or government officials, or any other statement documenting their history of war tax resistance.

History of the Fund

The War Tax Resisters penalty fund began in 1982. Ronald Reagan was president, and massive amounts of U.S. military aid was overthrowing a popular revolutionary government in Nicaragua and funding death squads in El Salvador. The Cold War was at its height, and U.S. Marine barracks in Beruit, Lebanon, had just been bombed. Military tax resisters who refused to pay all or a portion of their income tax to support the “Mutually Assured Destruction” policies of the United States were being punished with large fines, interest, liens, garnishments, and seizure of their property.

The penalty fund began as a volunteer project of the North Manchester, Indiana, Fellowship of Reconciliation, which decided that a community of supporters could easily share those financial penalties. The base list of supporters has varied from about 200 to 800 people sharing the weight.

After 1994, the frequency of appeals was greatly reduced and the North Manchester folks turned the operation of the fund over to one of the founders.

In 2013, after a period of dormancy, a new steering committee took over the penalty fund and in the process, it became an affiliate of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC). Our first appeal letter went out in the summer of 2014. In all, we’ve paid out about $250,000 to help resisters stay in the struggle.

IRS collections have stalled in recent years due to underfunding of that agency. As a result, there has been a drop in appeals. Some of our supporters send us a small donation every month, instead of waiting for an appeal, so we slowly accumulated a surplus. In early 2024, for the first time we asked supporters if they would agree to the use of some of our funds to help all tax resisters instead of only those who request our help. We received a resounding Yes! Since the recent wars began in Ukraine and the Middle East, NWTRCC has been overwhelmed with requests for information. So we donated a portion of our surplus to NWTRCC in April for education and outreach.

We remain committed to being a strong circle of support as interest in WTR rises with the visibility of the present tragic wars.

When the fund began, people learned about WTR through local peace groups, ads in magazines, and radio interviews—there was no internet! With that in mind, we hope to extend our outreach to include social media. People who find NWTRCC through social media can find us that way, but we hope for a more direct approach. If you enjoy social media and would like to be a part of this effort, please get in touch.

Who Administers the Fund?

WTRPF Steering Committee. Zoom screenshot by Steve Leeds

The penalty fund is an affiliate of the NWTRCC. It is managed by a steering committee: Shulamith Eagle (PA), Steve Leeds (CA), Bill Ramsey (PA), Peter Smith (IN), Shirley Whiteside (IA)

We are looking for a new generation of steering committee members to join us. Contact us at webmaster@nwtrcc.org if you would like to serve.