For Immediate Release: April 8, 2011
Contact: Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator Brooklyn, New York 800-269-7464 or Email.
On April 18 thousands of people across the United States will be refusing to pay some or all of their federal income tax to protest U.S. wars and escalating military spending. These tax refusers, who see themselves as responsible citizens, want their money used for peaceful purposes and often give taxes to social programs instead.
Monday, April 18, is the final day to file tax returns, and “war tax resisters” will be among those participating in events around the country to protest what they see as the skewed priorities of the U.S. government. Many hand out the pie chart produced by the War Resisters League, which calculates nearly 50% of federal income taxes pay for current or past wars.
Erica Weiland in Seattle, Washington, decided to refuse to pay for war in response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Our money and time are much better spent addressing the issues in the U.S. and around the world that cause wars in the first place,” she says. Groups in Seattle are organizing leafleting with federal budget information at area post offices.
John K. Stoner, a retired Mennonite minister in Akron, Pennsylvania, says, “I keep wondering why people who say they oppose war continue to pay for it without a whimper of protest.” He and others in his community have launched a campaign of symbolic protest called 1040 for Peace, to encourage U.S. taxpayers to express their opposition to U.S. military spending by refusing $10.40 of any taxes due, telling the government why, and giving that money to projects that promote peace or fund human needs.
War tax resistance has a long history in the U.S. and worldwide. The most famous case was Henry David Thoreau’s refusal of $1 for the Mexican-American War. He spent a night in jail for this act of resistance. Today’s resisters refuse to pay anything from $1 to thousands of dollars of federal income taxes, while risking collection from the Internal Revenue Service for their stand.
Patricia Tompkins, a farmer in Bakersville, North Carolina, speaks for many as she accepts the risks of confronting the IRS to stand up for her beliefs. “I made the decision to become a war tax resister in protest to our government’s policies in the Middle East and Afghanistan. For me, the essence of life is connection to the land and to each other, because without the first we cannot live and without the second we cannot be fully human.”
In St. Louis activists are taking their message to cut the military budget and fund human needs to Senator Blunt’s office and announcing grants to humanitarian groups. In Milwaukee, the protest will be in front of the Federal Courthouse. Lincoln Rice, a Milwaukee organizer, says, “My war tax resistance is grounded in my Catholic Christian spirituality. I cannot in good conscience pay my federal income taxes and contribute to the harming my Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere.”
See the online list of events and contacts around the country.
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), founded in 1982, is a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war. NWTRCC initiated the War Tax Boycott, which includes a list of public war tax refusers at wartaxboycott.org.
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“If a thousand people were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”
—Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience