Tax Day Reports
April 15, 2005
(see also: www.nwtrcc.org/mtap05/mtap0605.html#taxday)

Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham was PRESENTE with folks passing out the War Resisters League pie chart to the long lines of patrons at the post office.
            --Jamie K. Donaldson, Coordinator, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center

Bangor, Maine
Larry Dansinger leafletting outside the post office on April 15.

Corvallis, Oregon
On Friday, April 15, the day income taxes must be paid, a "penny poll" was taken on the sidewalk in front of the Corvallis Post Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Visitors to the post office and passers-by were asked to take part. Each participant was given 10 pennies with which to indicate how s/he wished the federal government would distribute the income taxes it receives. Two-hundred forty participants put their ten pennies – singly or altogether — in five containers representing five major categories of  spending.       
Following are the five categories and details and examples about what each  category holds: Human Resources, General Government, Current Military, Past Military, Physical Resources.

Results:
Human resources, 1009 pennies, representing 41.7%
General government, 305 pennies, representing 12.6%
Current military expenses, 200 pennies, 8.3%
Past military, 324 pennies, 13.3 %
Physical resources, 582 pennies, 24%.
(Compare to an analysis of the government’s priorities at www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm)

            This poll was of course an availability sample, not a probability (or random) sample; but it was totally anonymous, all passers-by were invited to participate, and the information was presented objectively, using the standard categories and details above. No preconceptions about the hopes of pollsters (for the outcome) were indicated before an individual polled, and often not even AFTER the polling. Probably because of the anonymity, those participating felt free to take their time and drop their pennies where they chose, oblivious of whether anyone was watching or not. Even though many people were eager to express their opinion, it was clear that some passers-by were cynical about government and its responsiveness to public concerns (whether expressed in polls like this, or in other ways).
            For example, we several times heard the comment that it was too depressing to think about the budget because it was all about war; and the jist of another comment that was heard several times was: " it doesn’t matter what I think, the government will do what it wants." Also, the results and conversations indicated that participants were concerned that veterans' benefits be paid, but by contrast they had much less interest in investing  public money into current wars. What people seemed to care most about was maintenance of physical (including biological) resources and human resources (education, health care, etc.).
            A core group, primarily consisting of people loosely affiliated with the Corvallis-area group, Alternatives to War, staffed the project. Their goal was to find out what Corvallis-area folks think about current expenditures, and to inform people about how the government is spending the people's money. A leaflet using data from the BUDGET OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, FISCAL YEAR 2006 was given to participants after being polled, and was offered to passers-by who did not wish to take part, or who did not have the time to do so.
                                                               --Joanne Karl

New York, New York
Outside the IRS in Manhattan. Photo by Ruth Benn.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Two people leafleted and we had a moderately successful Penny Poll on Tax Day. Here are the results:
Education/Child Care 26%
Healthcare 18%
Environment 16%
Renewable Energy 11%
Mass Transit 10%
Housing 10%
Military - Present 4%
Military - Past 4%
Government Administration 1%
Pork 0%                                                              --Aanya Adler Fries

Syracuse, New York
The Syracuse Peace Council had only small tax day activities this year. We helped LeMoyne College students with supplies to conduct a penny poll, and we stuffed the Peace Tax Form into our April Peace Newsletter.
                                                             --Marge Rusk

Iowa City, IA
The local chapter of the War Resisters League leafleted with pie charts and rallied outside the South Clinton St. Post Office protesting tax dollars to war. They received excellent coverage in The Daily Iowan, the newspaper of the University of Iowa: www.dailyiowan.com/media/paper599/news/2005/04/18/Metro/Activists.Decry.Taxes.For.War-927811.shtml.
                                                             --Gloria Walker

Denton, Texas

 

Denton, Texas
The tax day demonstration in front of the Post Office went really well in Denton, Texas. We had a small (15-20 people showed up), but beautiful crowd. We were right at the intersection of two busy streets in Denton, so we were very visible to passers-by, some hostile, many perplexed, many supportive.
            We had had worries that either the Post Office security or the city police would interfere with our presence. In planning this demonstration, we had put in several calls, one of which was to the Post Office to figure out what their policy was regarding leafletting/demonstration on postal property. It was amazing to see how "new" the question was to the people who transferred me from one line to the next like I was a hot metal rod.
            The postmaster's aid (I believe that was the title of the lady who ended up with the hot metal rod) said we would not be able to hand out leaflets or protest on the post office property. Her source was USPS rules and regulations "conduct on postal property." She went on to say that "Now, I cannot keep you from using the sidewalks." We were relieved (sarcasm). We knew that already, but anyhow...
            We were there at 5.30pm, few of us to start with, with the "crowd" converging after half an hour. We had signs, some of us held out dollar bills holding signs saying "Your tax money is funding the war."
            The city police whom we had contacted weeks in advance was there. They were very helpful, and even defended our right to be there against a post office employee who was very displeased that we were handing out War Tax Resisters'  pie chart flyers, among others. Now I don't think it was just the content of the protest that displeased him. We were "blocking foot traffic into the post office", which we weren't. After all, nobody turned away and gave up on paying taxes because we were there. We did however remind fellow citizens (and ourselves) that "you can't be neutral on a moving train" by linking (the) war to their wallets.
                                                                     --Ozlem Altiok

Washington, DC 
A dozen people vigiled outside of Internal Revenue Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and over $600 in resisted tax monies was distributed to half a dozen groups. Photo by Carol Moore.

Detroit, Michigan
Demonstrators leafletted the US Post Office in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on tax day.  Fourteen hundred leaflets were handed out, and a sandwich board was worn by one of the demonstrators, explaining just how our taxes go to pay for war.
            This is not a lot, but I hope it's enough to let people know that good things are happening in Detroit and environs.
                                                            --Suzanne Antisdel

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ruth Graves at the annual Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti WILPF tax day action in front of the Ann Arbor Federal Building. Photo by Bruce Graves.

Elkhart, Indiana
Dear Senators Bayh and Lugar and Representatives Souder and Chocola:
            The results of our Tax Day Poll at the Elkhart Post Office reveal that the priorities of our citizens would direct far more of the budget to life, far less to death, than the way Congress now spends our money. These results are consistent with results over the past several years. In addition, there was a new message form the taxpayers this year—the growing deficit is perceived as a danger, and they want you to work to reduce the national debt.
            When we began this polling in the late 1990’s, we offered people a choice of six categories, and we gave each person ten pennies to distribute among jars with these labels: Arts, Environment, Housing & Health Care, International Aid, Military, Scientific Research. Very quickly the public demanded another jar for their pennies: Education. We pointed out that education is primarily funded through local and state taxes, but they insisted: “We want the government to put more resources toward education.” We added that category, and every year since that has been the top priority in our poll.
            The results of this poll have been consistent year to year, but the surprise this year was that again we were pressured b the public to add another category: Reducing the Debt! At the end of the day, after 325 people had voted, this is how they would ask you to redistribute the budget:

Education                                 29%
Housing and Healthcare            18%
Military                         15%
Environment                             10%
Reduce the Debt                       9%
Scientific Research                    9%
International Aid                       5%
Arts                                          5%

            We encourage you to take to hear the concerns of the citizens of Elkhart County as you develop national spending priorities and allocate federal funds. The people want more for Education, Housing and Health care, far less for the military, AND they want you to stop increasing the national debt!
                           --Rich Meyer, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Northern Indiana

Greensboro, North Carolina
Here in Greensboro we had an interesting afternoon penny polling. Interesting because it turns out we were not at the post office where all the Tax Day hubbub goes on (probably a good thing). Interesting because our PO closed down at 5 p.m. rather than stay open until 9 p.m. as they had said on the TV. and interesting because the vast majority of the 54 people who took the poll were Hispanic or African American. The numbers:

General Government: 10%
Military  :    14%
Physical Resources:  16%
Interest on the National Debt: 18% (People were told we pretty much have to put two pennies in this one; most but not all complied)
Human Resources: 41%

            Also interesting was the comparison between this poll and ones I've conducted in previous years in Portland OR. Like Greensboro Portland put Human Services highest, though it usually got in the upper 50s percentile. General government ranked a bit higher since, in Portland, the military usually received the lowest funding.
            Overall, the poll was not so different from one of the US's "most progressive cities", despite the fact that North Carolina is, as declared by so many billboards, "the most military friendly state".
                                              --Daniel Woodham

Ithaca, New York

Ithaca, New York
Of course there's no way this can be considered "scientific," but in our Penny Poll conducted April 15, 2005--outside Ithaca downtown Post office-- we, Ithaca War Tax Resisters--asked people to take ten pennies and distribute them in the way *each person* would like to see their tax dollars spent if it were up to them. 58 people participated in the poll that lasted from 12-2 p.m.(in addition to the passing out of literature). The following are the results of what people, who took the poll, would spend their money on.

1) Health Care--22.8%
2) Education--16.9%
3) Environment--12.3%
4) Mass Transit--9.8%
5) Income Assistance--9.5%
6) Arts--9.0%
6) Housing--9.0%
7) Foreign Aid (non military)--5.5%
8) National Debt--2.8%
9) Military--2.4%

Interesting to compare this to two years ago (2003) when we last did Penny Poll on Tax Day:

1) Education-- 20.1%
2) Health Care-- 18.4%
3) Environment-- 15.7%
4) Mass Transit-- 10.3%
5) Arts-- 8.8%
6) Housing-- 8.6%
7) Income Assistance--7.2%
8) Foreign Aid (non military)-- 5.9%
9) National Debt-- 3.5%
10) Military-- 1.4%
                                                                            --Mary Loehr

South Bend, Indiana
Over six hours about 15 protesters stood outside the post office and handed out 1,000 “Where Your Income Tax Money Goes” flyers as taxpayers drove up to mail their taxes. The postmaster asked us to leave the area around the door, but we were allowed to offer flyers to cars approaching the drive up box near the street. Folks were receptive, with only a few angry comments. Last year the traffic flow was low due to electronic filing, but this year it was back up, at least until 10 pm.
                                                                       --Peter Smith

White Plains, New York
NoWar Westchester set up a literature and information table outside the White Plains Post Office and gave out about 1,000 WRL pie chart flyers with good response from many taxpayers. Some called us "brilliant" for being there that day. A man who counsels ex-prisoners on getting jobs said there are no jobs for people when they come out of prison, so they end up trapped in that vicious cycle. He was going to put the flyer up on the bulletin board at his workplace.
            Local cable news was there, and filmed us. Some of the taxpayers told us they had watched us on TV while waiting in the Post Office. The Postmaster was not so welcoming. He demanded that we move across the street, and refused to look at our permit. When we declined, he called the cops, who respected our rights, and allowed us to stay on the city sidewalk, but not on the federal property, which apparently is the personal fiefdom of the postmaster.
            As we were leaving after midnight, the postmaster called me over and asked me to pick up the litter in the lobby, which included a few of our flyers. I declined, since I didn't want to deprive postal workers of overtime pay, and since the Post Office never picks up the subsidized junk mail with which they litter our homes daily.
                                                                 --Charlie Scheiner

More reports in NWTRCC’s newsletter More Than A Paycheck, www.nwtrcc.org/mtap05/mtap0605.html#taxday