Report from NWTRCC Gathering
Discussions and Workshops
Counseling Topics from discussions and workshops
Kathy Kelly at the
Thanks so much to Taxes for Peace Not War! and all of our
individual hosts and cooks in
The weekend began with a go-round of introductions and stories or comments from each person on something related to war tax resistance (WTR). With about 50 people present, the range of comments included:
As a new resister the main problem has been getting friends to understand why I’m doing this; have had some heated discussions with friends.
Nuclear issues led into war tax resistance; grateful for local group and national support
From war tax resistance have moved into alternative/spiritual/economic paradigm and searching the reasons we have war. see Prout Institute.
As a total resister have had levies and left jobs but now stay under taxable limit.
Mostly do telephone tax resistance and group redirection.
After 25 years of resistance have had IRS raid house and office with guns drawn; lawsuits filed and everything was returned; it’s a long story!
Thought I made up war tax resistance and glad to find others who feel this way.
Got involved in Catholic Worker and stopped paying phone tax
First time resistance April 2008: IRS took the money from the stimulus check
In 1980 refused draft registration and spoke on draft resistance, let to WTR; they said he’d grow out of it but he didn’t
Came here to learn.
Not someone who is opposed to taxation but most exhilarating part of WTR has been redirection; many benefits of WTR but redirection is the best
My Ruckus group got a grant from NACC’s alternative fund for their paper so learned about WTR; haven’t been able to resist yet but challenged to figure out how to do it
Troubled about war as an 8-year-old when US got into WWII; after getting married they wrote first letter to IRS and have resisted ever since. Wish we had the secret to get more people to be honest with themselves and do this.
New to WTR in last year but got hit with a frivolous penalty after symbolic resistance. Trust that it is going to work out.
As a high
school teacher used Karl Meyer’s essays in the classroom and have refused since
1980; experiences in
Also got a “frivolous return” letter but hasn’t heard from IRS again; expect them to drop it;
tax line after
If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem; Trying to figure out how to reconcile stuff and how to do more.
hit by IRS in every possible way and always found each step to be a step to
Wants to learn all I can.
Resisted in 70s until about 84 but got married and husband wouldn’t resist, then had financial aid forms for kids, but now things have changed and can resist again.
Was a nonregistrant for draft in 1948; started to resist and redirect at retirement with help of a financial advisor who helps them keep income low.
I’m a peace activist because I joined the air force 1972. A special grant of $4,000 started the War Tax Information Project 4,000 in the 80s. If we had more of a movement than a collection of individuals it couldn’t fail.
Conflicted about paying for war and endless wars; brand new to this; don’t know what we are doing or what we want to do yet.
Biggest problem with WTR is “being on my own” – in a mixed marriage and a conservative area and despite all his organizing it’s very frustrating that his “wonderful example” has not rubbed off on anyone else there; there’s no group who takes more seriously personal responsibility than WTR folks
Three years in WTR and every year is a little bit different; having to write the check with this war was too much; impressed by variety of experience in this room
Hugely influenced by experience with WWII; as young person asked why does there have to be war? Scared by WTR while raising a child, but got a big bill and couldn’t pay it and just stopped being afraid.
was very important last year & helped to motivate folks. The redirection in
Got involved in Food Not Bombs and learned about anarchists and IWW; realized I didn’t really like government and didn’t want to pay for cops to shoot my friends. Good to see younger people and great to be here!
Saturday Discussions and Workshops
New NWTRCC Literature: WTRs and IRS, Basic WTR brochure, Telephone Tax brochure, Praying for Peace brochure – all updated. We will post readings on money on the NWTRCC website within a week. Individuals and groups who have NWTRCC lit in stock should make sure they have the latest versions of Practicals and other list. Contact the office to check dates!
War Tax Boycott discussion: After background to campaign these comments were made:
1 year too short timeframe to judge; many may have had withholding so didn’t owe; get people with refunds to redirect; need to build on experience from first year; set 3-5 year time frame.
wait until we see what Obama is going to do; we have the work behind us and can
expand and make it better.
Often you start somewhere and thru committee it changes but you do something that turns out fine. Redirection was impressive and we should keep building on it. Takes people a few years of saying they’d do it to do it.
Clearly some disappointments; 500 participants was low; Code Pink locally did not help at all; following up on pledges is difficult to figure out how to handle; we should have a way to go after unfulfilled pledges.
Definitely worth continuing; probably Obama will effect this but more time needed to take off further. SOAW can be a next push point.
There seems to be energy around this; did similar effort with redirection from lawsuit in Seattle; had high hopes that everyone would participate but only a small amount of what could have been done was given away. The question is how to continue to improve it than whether. Palm cards are not enough.
There is a disconnect between WTR and peace people in general. There’s a jumping off point where the vigils aren’t enough, and we have to better communicate to those who are at “then what.”
Didn’t realize I could sign up with my own redirection; the cards are too small and might need more explanation. Needs something more visible. As far as public sign-on, people were afraid of being on some IRS list; card could say you can sign up anonymously;
Can we compile a list of what was most effective; 500 signers out of 20,000 cards given out is a good return.
The financial meltdown can be a revolutionary moment; Pentagon may not get all their money, and out-of-the-gate the peace movement has to push for 50% cut; there’s some potential to say kill the Pentagon budget.
Should add something about if you switch your W-4 you are participating.
Sunday meeting notes have further discussion and decision.
Post Election Strategies for Peace and Justice Session
Lou Enge facilitating
Lists were made on issues and strategies and colored dots were used to highlight ones that we each thought most important. This list is presented with the ones marked most at the top.
** Support 8 Steps taken from Obama’s statements. Voices for
Creative Nonviolence is promoting
** How to promote nonviolence and pacifism;
** Focus on people of
** Redirect taxes to alternatives to military jobs/funding for education
** Link our military spending to economic priorities/woes
** Economic Justice
** War tax resistance and peace groups
* Support Vets Against War and parents of soldiers
* Overcoming resistance to war taxes
* Keep peace on table
* Cut pentagon budget
* Engage more youth
* Resist the idea that we can relax now that Obama’s in
* Counter recruitment
* Be more visible; Grow; Move into social/political space that is open now
* Department of Peace
* Climate change
* National infrastructure development
* Support each other as we work on different issues
* Fighting racism/sexism/homophobia
* Transition – strategy toward new direction/new administration positive focus
* Cultural diversity
Dialogue & pro war people – open that dialogue
Focus on our soldiers
Keeping national guards at home
Bridges between antiwar and environment
Enlarge on positive happenings
Distribution of wealth
International informative development
Abolition of death penalty
Reproductive rights and population issues
Talk about how tax resistance works within the ideas; This is harder time to organize with Obama coming in and also all these grassroots people he has motivated - we have more power than we’ve had before because we’ve been really on the outside; Reuse anti-globalization; It hasn’t exactly been easy to organize since 2003 – focus on war doesn’t work & support the nonviolence network in Iraq ; Security will come when people can live dignified lives, when we help to reconstruct Iraq/Afghanistan and put money into our own country - push Obama on other approaches to security, a different way of looking at these issues; Do sister Camp Hopes; Brainstorming is frustrating and exciting; Organize around supplemental spending bill coming up soon to fund Afghan and Iraq.
Honesty and Empathy: Questions for Collaborators
Kathy Kelly facilitating
workshops presented anecdotes and simulations to help us build empathy for
people directly affected by
Kathy’s thoughts after skits – Slow down and think about how to not collaborate, how to do what we can do. How do you not collaborate with it all? I’m greatly relieved that war tax resistance is an option.
Counseling Topics from discussions and workshops
Frivolous Return Letters and Penalty
A couple who resisted a part of their tax bill for the first
time in April 2008, filing normally and enclosed a letter explaining why the
check was not for the full amount. In late summer they received a warning
letter from the IRS “frivolous” office in
Someone in the room referred to the above fine for a low level of resistance to “Cutting down a dandelion with a chainsaw.”
Others had received the warning letter in the last year or two but not responded and had not heard from the IRS again. One person sends in a form with a message against paying for war written on the form and has never received a “frivolous return” letter – according to IRS policy this action is subject to the penalty, as opposed to sending an honest return with a letter enclosed. Some spoke about being unwilling to cooperate no matter what the IRS threatened.
Questions arose as to whether the IRS was targeting first-time resisters, but we have no particular evidence of that.
Question about whether to publicize this case. Some favored
(assuming individuals are willing) and some thought it just draws attention to what
the IRS can do and makes people afraid. Would publicity about the frivolous
penalty and its misapplication and random application be good or bad? This
question remains open but probably depends on individuals and the cases as they
arise. The Des Moines Register did a story about Mike Palecek in
It seems unlikely that the IRS use of frivolous letters is deliberate
to new resisters or in response to anything in particular as many of us do the
same thing and do not receive the letter. Seems more that some employees
processing returns randomly or for their own reasons send some on to the
One person pointed out that this sort of IRS activity is one reason why the peace tax fund bill is needed.
Once again it was emphasized that the IRS is doing very little in the way of house
seizures, the last of war tax resisters that we know of being in the early 1990s. It is very labor intensive and was also cut back after the 1998 Congressional hearings that resulted in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Question about government jobs & WTR –
We don’t have much experience in this area, but risks probably depend on the contract and any contractual items that could lead to job risk if you break the contract. In taking a job read any related rules and requirements that go with the job.
When you take action and it causes consequences, you invite the best out of people.
Publicity can bring support from places that you never expected.
Do we use publicity about the federal budget in our work?
Robert Randall talked about how we hand out the WRL pie chart and other info on the federal budget on tax day or many are involved in groups that work on these issues. Also we take the steps to change the budget in our own lives by the way we handle the tax issue. Gary Erb encouraged us to learn more about government debt and how it is handled (or not) in budgets and pie charts.