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Mary Regan with New England War Tax Resistance says, “I was going to a tax day event April 16 (tax day in Massachusetts) and was to announce the grants from our refused taxes. It was a protest to spotlight the need for our economy to turn from war to human needs.
“But because of the terrible events of Monday in Boston, the event has been canceled. People are hunkering down to be with family, but I wish we were still protesting, because we need to show that violence should be met with love.”
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr. (“Where Do We Go From Here?” 1967)
The Milwaukee tax day vigil went great despite the blustery weather. We had a small but dedicated group picketing Milwaukee’s US Army base. We spoke with and gave flyers to many soldiers and civilians all while pointing out the folly of war taxes and drone killing. At the end of the rally, long-time war tax resister Fr. Don Timmerman blocked the driveway as an act of civil disobedience and when that didn’t work, walked onto the base and was arrested. He was ticketed and released shortly after.
— Mikel Komba reporting, with photos by Joshua Campbell
The federal budget would look very different if residents of Sitka, Alaska could decide how their federal tax dollars were spent.
Fifty-one Sitka residents participated in a Tax Day penny poll on April 14 to let their federal representatives know how they want their tax dollars spent.
To encourage participation by a broad range of community members, the penny poll was held at Kettleson Memorial Library. Participants represented diverse interests, including educators, health care professionals, small business owners and employees, fishermen, public service employees, students and retirees.
Fifty people voted in a penny poll on Tax Day, April 15, in downtown Colorado Springs. Each given 10 pennies to allocate to 8 categories, voters chose healthcare and hunger as top priorities — 21% for each, $1.09 and $1.08, respectively.
The remaining categories received: education, 17% (88 cents); environment, 13% (66 cents); housing, 8% (42 cents); the arts, 8% (40 cents); military, 6% (33 cents); and retirement (6%, 30 cents). Total cash voted was $5.16 — 16 cents are unaccounted for, believed to be contributed by voters.
A dozen activists hosted the poll from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., offering the War Resisters League pie chart leaflet, Where your income tax money really goes, as well as penny candy to each voter in the penny poll. Given the very military nature of Colorado Springs (5 bases and many “defense” industry contractors), it’s significant that the military received a 6% vote while healthcare and hunger each received more than 3 times as much.
While the federal income tax assigns 47% of its dollars to past and present military use, the people vote for human needs when given a choice. It’s time to move the money! Check out Peace Action, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, and War Resisters League for more info and inspiration.
— Mary Sprunger-Froese, with photos by Donna Johnson
We handed out more than 1,000 WRL pie chart flyers during the annual march from the Manhattan office of the IRS to the General Post Office was lively once again, involving activists and war taxresisters from NYC War Resisters League, NYC People’s Life Fund and War Tax Resistance, along with members of the Grannies Peace Brigade, Veterans for Peace, Peace Action New York State, and those joining the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. About 50 of us leafleted and vigiled in front of the IRS for over an hour, followed by a march through Times Square with the RudeMechanical Orchestra to the General Post Office. It made for a lively time, with Rude Mechanical playing music and leading chants and the Grannies leading us in their great “use our taxes for peace” songs.
In front of the IRS in Manhattan. There was quite a long line of people going into the IRS this year — gave them time to read our flyers.
In Times Square on the march to the post office.
Photos by Ed Hedemann
I was planning to hand out the WTR Pie Charts from 2:00 to midnight at Lexington Kentucky’s main post office, but I only had 500 flyers and ran out by 7:00. Next year, I will double my order.
My action got picked up in advance by a weekly paper in Eastern Kentucky (“Bloody” Breathitt County as it is called) which usually has a “he said — she said” column by a Democrat & a GOP. In this case, the Democrat ran the story ahead of time and then the GOP is going to write about it again after the fact. Apparently they agree that we spend too much money on military and not enough on the schools that are being closed and consolidated in the Appalachian area.
Also, I posted on the listserves and Facebook pages of the Kentucky Quaker Meetings (Louisville, Lexington & Berea) which picked up the interest of the Central Kentucky Coalition for Peace & Justice which has a 1,000 readership newsletter.
At 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 & 6:30 I stopped to talk to a different official from the post office who came out to say I had to stop and leave, but after some discussion, they decided I could stay. At 6:30, the guy asked for one of my flyers and said he agreed with it.
Basically, I was standing at the mouth of a long horseshoe driveway where cars went up to drop off their tax envelopes. They had to stop to get back on the main road, put their seat belts back on or whatever. I just stood there and they rolled down their windows again if they had rolled it up after drop off, hung their arm out and said “what you got there?” Too easy.
I answered “its where your tax dollars go” and they would take it. Then as they looked at it and frowned, I would say, “I just wish it were better news.” Then they would laugh. So that set the mood for every car in line to want what I was handing out.
Again, so easy and I just wish I had 1,500 flyers might have lasted me until midnight.
Also, Friday the 12th, I stuffed the mailboxes of the students and faculty at the Earlham School of Religion (Quaker Seminary) with WRL Pie Charts. Then today, I posted on the community page about handing them out at the airport and if they did not want theirs, to mail them to Rep. Messer, US House, Washington DC 20515 with a note: “less war, more social services and jobs.”
So all in all, a good Tax Day.
— Steve Olshewsky
On the bridges of Portland, Oregon, during tax day rush hour:
Trillions in debt / and death every day / Don’t like the war? / Then refuse to pay
Let’s not pay / for wars and occupations / Use our taxes / for jobs and education!
In the evening the group held a potluck dinner and redirection ceremony at the Peace House, Ann Huntwork read her letter to the IRS:
Elizabeth accepted the donation of redirected tax dollars for Food not Bombs.
Photos by Al Stern, who recorded the event for KBOO radio.
War tax resister Daniel Woodham (left) joined members of the Alamance County Peace Coalition for bannering and leafletting. Holding banner at right is John Heuer (Vets for Peace), with Anne Cassebaum (in hat) and Barb Clawson. The photo was taken by Vinny G, a passerby, who engaged the group for ½-hour discussion and then took this photo from his iPhone.
How do the Asheville Area War Tax Resisters keep the pressures of the yearly Tax Day rush to obey the Warfare State from completely depressing us to the point of numbness? We don’t pay — we play! Joining with the New South Network of War Resisters, our local War Tax Refusers held a peaceful, yet somewhat raucous rally at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville…
Pictured here, Roger, Clare & Jim clamor for peace.
Outside post office on April 13, 2013. Selma Sternlieb, (left) advertises for people to study the tax spending banner to the right. The vigil was sponsored by Occupy Maine Bath/Brunswick and Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks. Photos by Eric Herter.
A lively bunch sang, vigiled, handed out flyers, and talked outside the post office. Kathleen Simms and Daniel Sicken provided the musical entertainment, while Tom Wilson, Juanita Nelson, and Tom Namaya made themselves available to discuss their messages. The tax day presence was sponsored by Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance. Photos by Jane Michaud. You can see more photos on her photo page.
$22,000 in grants from Northern Calfornia People’s Life Fund (PLF) were distributed in a ceremony on tax day evening at the Co-Housing Common House in Berkeley. The funds for PLF grants come from interest earned on a pool of income tax dollars that activists refuse to pay to the federal government because they cannot in good conscience support the government’s use of these taxes for military purposes. Instead they choose to re-direct them to community organizations through the PLF. One of the priorities is to fund groups that include in their leadership the people impacted by the work of the organization.
Grants this year were given to these groups:
Anakbayan East Bay for Membership & material support
Berkeley Copwatch for “Copwatch Handbook” printing
Berkeley Students & Families for Equality for Supplies for homeless student support
Berkeley Unitarian Universalists for Coordinator of Social Justice Center
California Coalition for Women Prisoners for Speaker’s bureau
Communities United Against Violence for Survivor leadership skills development
Courage to Resist for Rivera family support fund
Emiliano Zapata Street Academy for Restorative justice staff training
Family Builders for Miscellaneous essentials
Freedom Archives for “Out of Control” book distribution
Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans for Material goods/members to N. Korea
Love Balm Project for Performance artist fees
Mission High School for One student travel to Haiti
Mosaic Project for Youth leadership project
Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives for Information, consultations & referrals
Northridge Cooperative Homes for Community garden
OneFam for “Free the Fee” campaign
Phat Beets Produce for Community incubation kitchen
Students for Justice in Palestine for “DAM” musical performance
Youth Spirit Artworks for “Art Cart” jobs venture
Prison Activist Resource Center
and to NWTRCC for social media work and support of war tax resisters
Four of us vigiled and handed out about 100 WRL flyers to lunchtime passersby in downtown on April 15. I wore a signboard with a blown up pie chart and a message asking people to think about where their tax money is going. After years of being ignored by the press, one of the local TV reporters took a flyer and came to my house to do an interview.
— Peter Smith
Holding signs — some reading “Not With Our Tax Dollars”, “Drones: Terror From the Sky” and “Will the World’s Children Survive Your Work?” — the group publicly expressed their desire that tax dollars fund social needs such as education and health care rather than the pilotless drones, cruise missiles, Star Wars “kill vehicles”, cluster bombs and more built at Raytheon’s Tucson plant.
That afternoon, John Heid had a trial in Tucson City Court for his December 28, 2012 arrest during a drone protest at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, home to an active combat predator drone unit. He told the judge that he didn’t go to Davis-Monthan AFB that day with criminal intent, but rather with the intent to challenge criminality. Heid was found guilty of trespass and sentenced to time served on the day of his arrest.
Monthly peace vigils protesting drone warfare continue at both Raytheon and Davis-Monthan AFB.
Photos by Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa, Nuclear Resister
Mike Bremer and Kathy Kelly reading the WRL pie chart leaflet and talking about tax resistance in Federal Building Plaza on April 15. Photo by Brad Lyttle.
Follow Kathy Kelly’s writings and travels to Afghanistan on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website.
Ithaca had a successful tax day presence at the Post Office this year. One member brought a 20 foot long banner with a graph about the discretionary budget, with the military portion in red looking strikingly out of proportion, (60%) made by the American Friends Service Committee. It’s such a striking graph that many people stopped to look and/or talk. Another member had great signs that he bought last year from NWTRCC. We were there from 3–5, which I think is a great time to be there. We didn’t have flyers to pass out, and I actually think that made people more inclined to stop, as they were not feeling “harassed,” or “pressured,” or simply “approached” by us. And we had beautiful weather.
— Mary Loehr
Activists gathered at the Eugene downtown post offices on Tax Day, April 15th, to challenge militarism and to call for the re-ordering of federal spending from supporting war to meeting human and environmental needs.
People were provided the opportunity to voice how they would spend their tax dollars when they took part in the “Penny Poll.” Participants were handed 10 pennies, which they deposited in jars representing a 5-category breakdown of the federal budget. The categories and how people voted are as follows:
|Paying Down the Debt||7%|
“The results are similar to past years. If Eugene residents ran the Federal Government things would be significantly different — their tax dollars would be funding social and environmental programs and not endless war,” said event organizer Michael Carrigan of CALC.
War tax resisters, who object to over half of their federal taxes going to the military, redirected their “war” taxes to local organizations, including Sponsors, Shelter Care, and Occupy Medical as well as other organizations, who were on hand to receive their donations.
Peace activists were joined by activists from Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network-Jobs with Justice who spoke out for postal workers and keeping the Gateway mail processing center open. Michael Carrigan of CALC spoke in support of postal workers and not war at their rally April 13.
Photos: Among the presentations during the gathering at the Eugene Post Office, The Raging Grannies sang and Patty Hines of Occupy Interfaith spoke. Photos courtesy of Jain Elliott.
How would you spend our nation’s discretionary funds for a year — a total of $1.242 trillion? On April 15, 2013, people in six different neighborhoods of Seattle (Wedgwood, West Seattle, downtown, Greenwood, Columbia City, Ballard) were asked to make that decision.
These numbers are a stark contrast to the way that our income taxes are actually being spent in 2013. Instead of the military budget (past and present) dominating the budget at 47%, this clearly demonstrates that people in Seattle are calling out for a re-prioritization of our federal budget items. There is still acknowledgement that the military is a small, but necessary element of our national security, but the funding that is poured into the Pentagon could be better used if invested into education, health care, or our environment. Even humanitarian aid, which if used to stabilize other nations in a supportive way could lead to greater world security, received double the investment than the military.
Some may ask, what would happen to the unemployment rate if we cut the Pentagon budget? In fact, we would create more jobs by spending according to the priorities of Seattleites. Spending on education for example creates more than 16,000 jobs per billion dollars than spending on the military. Each person who dropped a penny into the Education jar voted to create 1,984,000 new jobs! If the priorities of the Congress followed the votes of the people of Seattle, we would certainly be living in a very different world.
—Report from Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation
Tax Season Event Highlights U.S. Funding for Israeli Expansion
An April 7 public meeting in Lancaster highlighted the connection between federal income taxes and U.S. support for Israeli expansion on Palestinian lands in the West Bank. At the event, donations including resisted war taxes, were collected for the peace work of Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Each year, around $3 Billion in taxpayer funds are provided as aid to Israel. These funds are given without restriction and are used in part to pay for illegal Israeli activities in the West Bank.
The event, sponsored by 1040forpeace.org and held at the East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, featured Tarek Abuata, coordinator of Christian Peacemaker Teams’ program in the ancient city of Hebron.
1040forpeace.org is a campaign of symbolic war tax resistance, which calls itself “stronger than voting and kinder than war.”
Abuata was born in Bethlehem and often played along the road connecting his town with Jerusalem. “As children my friends and I would go to Jerusalem and back in the course of a day’s play,” he said. “Today, with the wall and the security checkpoints, that is impossible.”
An ancestral home of the Abuata family in Haifa has been occupied since 1948 by Jewish families. The market Tarek’s parents operated along the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem is long gone, closed when the Abuata family joined the Christian exodus from Palestine and relocated to the U.S.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) sends up to six teams of people to Hebron each year to accompany Palestinians who peacefully resist Israeli encroachment on their homes and livelihoods. Tarek described typical CPT activities: walking children to school in an effort to minimize harassment by settlers; monitoring the actions of Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) at the numerous checkpoints that delay normal work-a-day activities for Palestinians; using video recorders to document IOF intrusions in private homes, disruptions of private businesses, and the destruction of gardens and planted crops.
“A few settlers will erect a tent on Palestinian land, near a farmer’s field. Under Israeli law, the IOF soldiers must protect those settlers. So the soldiers will ignore the illegal presence of the settlers’ tent but prevent the farmer from approaching his field to tend his crops. Month by month, year by year, this is how the occupation proceeds,” Tarek said.
For more information on U.S. financial support for Israel, see “The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans.”
Contact John Stoner for more information at (717) 859‒3388.
See also, Our Taxes are Off to War - 2013 Edition