CONSCIENCE AND MILITARY TAX CAMPAIGN
The CMTC Escrow Account for refused military and war taxes is a fund that, since 1980, has allowed war tax resisters to set aside refused military taxes. Depositors can retrieve their money at any time (for example, to replace assets seized by the IRS). In the interim, the money is invested in community projects around the country and interest from the account is used to promote war tax resistance and to support peace and social justice work.
The CMTC Escrow Account is an opportunity to redirect your tax dollars, which would otherwise be used for killing, to constructive, life-affirming ends and while protecting yourself against the potential financial risks associated with war tax refusal. By combining the resources of many resisters, the CMTC Escrow Account creates a large fund which is reinvested in socially responsible institutions assisting low-income and minority communities. Your tax dollars are put to good use immediately. A portion of the interest from the Escrow Account helps to fund Peace and Justice organizations around this country. Another portion of the interest is granted each year to community groups meeting human needs in the U.S. and around the world. The CMTC Escrow Account is the largest and most geographically diverse war tax alternative fund in the U.S., with hundreds of thousands of dollars from hundreds of depositors.
Withholding and redirecting money from militarism towards life is a brave and vital action. It can have an empowering effect on your own life, that of your friends, and together with the efforts of others, on the direction of the U.S. government away from death and domination and towards life and justice.
The CMTC Escrow Account is a trust fund, and as such it is entirely legal to make a deposit into the Account. However, withholding taxes from the IRS is considered illegal by the IRS and U.S. courts, and is therefore currently an act of civil disobedience. Proving to the IRS that you have not kept the taxes for yourself but redirected them to the Escrow Account does not in their eyes remove your tax liability or your violation of the IRS code in failing to pay.
Despite the fact that the Nuremberg Principles which, under the 4th Article of the U.S. Constitution, supersede U.S. domestic law, instruct citizens to "disobey directives of state" which involve them in "complicity in crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity," U.S. courts have consistently denied these and similar arguments as defenses in cases involving war tax resistance.
The U.S. Constitution forbids Congress from passing laws against individual conscience (9th Amendment), but no accommodation for taxpayers to avoid paying for war against their conscience has yet been passed or upheld in court. Passage of the Peace Tax Fund Bill would guarantee the legal right of conscience in regard to taxes, equivalent to the legally recognized right to apply for conscientious objector status, and thus avoid direct participation in war.
You cannot be punished, fined or jailed for making deposits into the CMTC Escrow Account. Refusing to pay taxes to the IRS is, however, an act of civil disobedience, which carries legal risks. While it is quite common for people considering war tax resistance to assume that they will be sent to jail, it is in fact very rare for the IRS to use the courts and the threat of jail to force payment or punish a war tax resister. Since 1948 only 16 war tax resisters have been jailed. These resisters were not jailed for refusing to pay, but for related reasons (contempt of court for refusing to produce records, claiming excessive allowances on W-4 or 1040 forms, and failure to file returns.)
Generally speaking, the government has been much more interested in collecting the money than in punishment by jail sentences, although of course this practice may change. Currently the chances of criminal prosecution are slim. Much more likely are civil penalties and interest, which can over the years add up to more than the original amount of taxes withheld. The amounts imposed change from year to year. Consult with a war tax resistance counselor for details of potential civil and criminal penalties. It helps to have a thorough understanding of the possible consequences of your actions. Contact The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (www.nwtrcc.org or 1 800 269-7464) to locate a counselor near you.
CMTC-EA deposits are held in fully insured, socially constructive credit unions, community development banks, around the country and in an international micro-fiancé cooperative bank. All are designed to meet the needs of low-income and minority communities. The deposits are held in CMTC's name, not in those of individual depositors. The interest on deposits is used in two ways: A substantial percentage of it is granted to community organizations that meet human needs and work for social justice, and the rest is used to maintain, operate, and promote the Escrow Account.
Yes. You can withdraw your money at any time. Make your request in writing, and we will return the amount requested, usually within two weeks. In an emergency, we can make arrangements to return the money more quickly.
The amount of taxes you choose to withhold is your decision. Many depositors do withhold the full amount. Others withhold the percentage of tax dollars used for military purposes. The War Resisters League (www.warresisters.org) and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (www.fcnl.org) publish charts that compare the amount tax dollars spent on the military versus other categories of federal spending. Some withhold a symbolic amount, for example $1, $10, or $100. Certainly, the larger the amount withheld and the greater the number of depositors the more effective we are. Regardless of the amount, each new depositor becomes one more voice for an end to militarism and a change in government priorities.
Deposits in the CMTC Escrow Account are confidential. The pooled funds are held in CMTC's name, not that of individual depositors. Some depositors choose to tell the IRS that they have deposited their withheld taxes in the CMTC Escrow Account. This makes a levy on that money more likely. If you don't tell the IRS about your deposits, they will not know about them.
If your employer withholds your taxes, you can adjust the number of allowances that you claim on your W-4 form so that you decrease the amount of tax withheld and increase your control over your income. The number of allowances you need to claim depends on your income and to what extent you wish to reduce your withholding, and can be worked out using IRS Publication 15, Circular E. This method, called W-4 resistance, carries the risk of a $500 civil penalty, or more severe criminal penalties. However, it is currently used successfully by many thousands of resisters. Criminal prosecution is very rare.
Most people receive computer-generated letters from the IRS concerning the tax liability. The more information the IRS has about you and your tax obligations, the more likely it is that it will attempt to collect the taxes, plus penalties and interest. It collects by levying bank accounts, garnishing payroll, or in rare instances seizing property -usually in that order. Before any collection efforts begin you will receive a "Final Notice Before Levy", thirty days after which the IRS is legally entitled to collect. There is no one correct way to respond to a collection. Some people pay their taxes under protest at this point, some withhold for long periods and then pay, some allow their funds to be seized, and some continue to resist all collection efforts.
Yes, the IRS can levy the money you deposit in the CMTC Escrow Account, but this has happened very rarely and we have not received a levy from the IRS since 1988. If you do not inform the IRS of your deposits in the Escrow Account, a levy is highly unlikely. If a levy is made, CMTC acts in accordance with the wishes of the depositor. CMTC has, in fact, never turned any money over to the IRS. In a December 1986 suit by the Justice Department against CMTC, adjudicated in Federal District Court in New York, the CMTC Escrow Account was penalized $1,501 for not honoring a levy. This penalty has never been collected.
CMTC has established the Conscience Penalty Fund to cover losses incurred if it should refuse to cooperate with IRS levy on an individual's deposits in the Escrow Account. On a voluntary basis Escrow Account depositors are asked in the original Escrow Account Agreement to support the penalty fund by allowing CMTC to remove 3% or $15 (whichever is less) from accounts once a year in the event of an IRS seizure. This fund allows CMTC to support an individual's desire to resist collection efforts and at the same time protect its deposits, grant-making and operating funds.
Yes. If you decide to contribute your Escrow Account deposits to CMTC's grant fund, contact CMTC in writing and the funds will be transferred to the grant fund. Many depositors find that the ten year statute of limitations eliminates old tax liabilities and then they don't have a need to withdraw their deposits.
Deposits and withdrawals are usually made by mail. You can make your first deposit by signing the Escrow Account Agreement included with this brochure and sending it to CMTC together with a check or money order for any amount made out to the CMTC Escrow Account. We will send you a confirmation notice after each deposit, withdrawal, or contribution and an annual statement to check that our information is correct.
Originally the CMTC Escrow Account was administered from Long Island, New York. In the late 1980's, it moved to Seattle, where it was administered by the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia (NACC). In 2011, it moved to St. Louis and then in 2012 it's administrative office moved to Asheville, NC. A St. Louis and North Carolina CMTC oversight committee makes decisions about grants and investments. Present members are: Hannah Allison (Raleigh) a low-income community organizer and environmental activist; Hedy Epstein (St. Louis) a human rights activist and child survivor of the Nazi Holocaust; Elizabeth Keiser, a Quaker and retired college professor, Rich Howard-Willms (St. Louis), a manager of three Mennonite fair trade shops; Larry Wilson (Asheville), a retired Mennonite minister; and Bill Ramsey (Marshall, NC), coordinator of the Human Rights Action Service and a war tax resister. Oversight Committee members are drawn from a larger group of Missouri and North Carolina war tax resisters who, along with CMTC depositors, advise the Oversight Committee.
P.O. Box 2096 Mars Hill, NC 28754
CMTC is an affiliate of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) www.nwtrcc.org, and serves as the fiscal sponsor of the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund. CMTC supports the efforts of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund to secure passage of a law that recognizes the right of conscientious objection to war taxes.