National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

More than a Paycheck:News from the War Tax Resistance Movement
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June 2001. HEADLINES IN THIS ISSUE:

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Tax Day, 2001

War Tax Resistance groups organized actions in over 50 cities on April 16 and 17 this year! Conscientious objectors to paying for war redirected tens of thousands of dollars in refused tax money, leafletted at post offices and federal buildings, and participated in creative street theater to to protest federal spending priorities.

We will report on Alternative Fund grants for 2001 in our next issue. Meanwhile, here are highlights of just a few of the actions around the country. Thanks to all who sent in reports.

ELKHART, IN

A penny poll conducted by members of Christian Peacemaker Teams of Northern Indiana was held at the post office in Elkhart. 282 people identified their priorities for federal spending. Education and Health Care have consistently ranked highest in the polls in Elkhart; recent nation-wide polls have found the same.

ANDOVER, MA

“There ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop,” chanted activists at the second Death and Taxes Resistance Festival.

About 40 people marched a half mile from the IRS building to a Raytheon missile plant in Andover, MA, making the connection between the pentagon and tax dollars. They spread yellow, marshmallow candy chicks (peeps) (the power of the peeps) across the Raytheon entrance and staged a die-in. No one was arrested.

AUSTIN, TX

The Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation held five penny polls totaling 147 people leading up to Tax Day, with the military ending up 9th of 10 categories. For the last poll they partnered with the Texas Alliance for Human Needs. Using data from the National Priorities Project, TAHN sent out press releases.

On April 16 at the downtown Austin post office, several members including one baby tried with modest success to leaflet the cars, getting the issue of military spending mentioned on one television news station and a short interview on the CNN affiliate. One sign read "Do you really want to pay for war? Half your taxes do." It was flipped to read on the back "(888) Peace-Tax, You Make the Call, www.Peace-Tax.com."

PORTLAND, OR

As downtown corporate suits toting cell phones bustled by in studious avoidance, war tax resister Joanna started handing out large sums of money. First, $5,750 to Tim, a homeless man representing Dignity Village, followed by $550 to a woman from the Peace in Colombia Action Group. A colorful crowd of about 100 people, mostly dressed in blue, yellow, and red, the colors of the Colombian flag, applauded approvingly.

It was Tax Day, and connections were being made in Portland's Pioneer Square. Members of the Portland Peace in Columbia Action Group, the Oregon Community for War Tax Resistance (part of the local chapter of War Resisters League), the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the community of Portland's homeless known as Dignity Village gathered together on Tax Day to support each other, to make the connections, to protest these misguided spending priorities, and to redirect resisted war taxes toward helping people instead of harming them.

Peace in Colombia Action Group speakers and street theater addressed what life was like in Colombia with the US backed Colombian army responsible for over 80 percent of the killings and human rights abuses in a 37 year old civil war.

Money for the military was connected to lack of funds for the poor in Portland and the homeless in Colombia. Portland's Dignity Village, aligning themselves in solidarity with a sister village of homeless in Bogota, Colombia, sought to disarm the illusion that the third world exists as an icon apart from the "developed" world. The same greed that lines the pockets of billion dollar dictators and imperialist corporate interests in Colombia works in America to cloud connections between vast amounts of material possessions and personal, human poverty.

SOUTH BEND, IN

Eight activists in South Bend endured a snowstorm as they passed out nearly 2,000 leaflets for six hours to last minute filers at the post office.

LOS ANGELES, CA

NWTRCC counselor and area contact Joe Maizlish went to the post office in downtown Los Angeles for an hour or so of leafleting. Already at the corner was a leader of the Colombia anti-war network. His flyers said "Don't pay for the U.S. war in Colombia," so he naturally was pleased to have the chart and its information, and a wtr joining him.

ASHLAND, OR

After eighteen years of Tax Day leafleting at our local post office, and two years of experiencing levels of irritation from the postmaster, this year we were told that we had to leaflet from the sidewalk and couldn't be on the property. This was problematic as the main entrance was off the parking lot and we would have to call people over to the sidewalk to engage them. We would be interested in any legal advice on this issue from others.

Our Tax Day leaflets used a torn dollar graphic to represent budget allocations-"Where Our Tax Dollars Really Go" and on the reverse side, advertised a follow-up program on legal ways to reduce federal tax liability. We collected almost a hundred signatures on a letter to our congressional delegation protesting the use of our tax money in support of "Plan Colombia." The follow-up program on Thursday night was led by a tax consultant and a financial advisor who shared perspectives and generated discussion in the group. (Report sent by Peace House.)

ASHEVILLE, NC

Asheville Area War Tax resisters participated in a variety of actions around Tax Day. Steve Magin of Celo, NC, made his usual pilgrimage to the IRS offices in the Federal Building to deliver his 1040 form. He had his check in hand for taxes owed, prepared to pay if they could assure him the money would not be used for weapons and war. They could not. So as has happened year after year, they accepted his tax form and he kept the funds for later redirection.

We then walked to the local post office to join with about a dozen others to pass out the WRL Pie Chart. We were surprised to find that postal employees were also picketing that day. They were concerned about planned changes in mail delivery that would impact their jobs. We shared the sidewalk and had many good discussions about labor organizing, workers rights, the SOA (the postal union has signed a resolution for it to be closed) etc. Some among them were Viet Nam veterans and well understood our concerns. We leafletted right at the doors of the post office this year, alongside the postal workers.

On April 24 Lola LaFey and other Asheville WTR's made a ten minute presentation before city council about U.S. militarism and the ill use of tax dollars to fuel war while so many local needs are unmet. During the presentation she passed around dollar bills to council members and citizens. "We are not tax evaders," she told the council. We organize under the idea of Taxes for Life! and we are here today to pay our taxes." With that she called up representatives from each of three local groups. Each group received a $200 check from the Asheville Taxes for Life! Alternative Fund. City council seemed alternately amused and intrigued with the presentation, which was filmed for local cable access. (Report by Clare Hanrahan.)

SEATTLE, WA

The Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia gathered at the downtown Seattle Post Office for an hour of leafletting on April 16th, and six folks passed out 500 of the WRL pie charts to the usual not very receptive audience. We did enjoy several discussions, and the nice weather made our day a fine one.

Outside Greenwood Post office in Seattle on April 16, friendly FOR activists gave out hundreds of flyers showing how federal tax dollars are spent at national and local levels. The acceptance rate for the flyers was 90% plus. Many takers said thanks for doing this!

MILWAUKEE, WI

About 25 people representing the Milwaukee War Tax Resisters, Peace Action Wisconsin and the Casa Maria Catholic Worker attended the tax day demonstration in front of Milwaukee’s federal building. It turned out to be a beautiful celebration of how a few dedicated can stand up for what they believe in and create a better world because of it. We began our vigil at a very busy intersection of downtown Milwaukee, then marched to the federal building which holds the local IRS office. After passing out leaflets, singing, chanting, making speeches and holding signs denouncing the fact that 48.8% of federal income taxes are going towards the military, four people chose to follow their consciences and do an act of civil disobedience. They were charged with disorderly conduct and given the option of paying a $116 fine. They all entered not guilty pleas and are awaiting a trial date. (Report by Mikel Rebholz.)

ST. LOUIS, MO

When St. Louis leafletters ran out of fliers at the post office on Tax Day, they went inside and retrieved many from the garbage cans! They continued doing this for an hour, until there were no more leaflets at all. Now that’s recycling!

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Conscience Gets a Fair Hearing at 107th Congress

On May 16, 2001, citizens from Texas to New England gathered in Washington, DC, to press politicians to recognize the rights of conscience. Individuals visited nearly 100 Representatives and Senators, asking them to recognize their freedom of conscience and religious practice by passing a bill to end draft registration, and by enacting the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill.

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) campaigns for the right of conscientious objectors to pay their full federal taxes without paying for the military. The Center on Conscience and War (CCW) is working for the end of draft registration. Members and supporters of both organizations participated in the joint lobby day on May 16.

Participants were very encouraged by the professional and cordial meetings they had with congressional staffers. For some supporters, this was their first opportunity to walk the halls of Congress and speak truth to power. The receptions ranged from being "like a cold shower" to "a very positive experience". Aides were reportedly well informed about the issues, and supporters of NCPTF and CCW engaged in substantive discussions with staffers about the merits of the bills. Several participants reported that face-to-face lobbying for these bills "felt like it was making a real difference".

"This was an important day of action for both organizations," said J.E. McNeil, Executive Director of CCW. "But the campaigning is still gathering momentum; we need all our supporters to continue to write and visit their political representatives"

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Counseling Notes:

Telephone Tax

The bill to repeal the 3% federal excise tax on phone bills was not passed last year. It has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. The new bill number is HR 236, and it has been referred to committee. More Than A Paycheck will keep you informed as to the status of this legislation.

IRS Audit Activity Drops to New Low

IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti has issued a written statement showing a drop in audit and collection activity over the past six years. Rossotti said that the declines must stop or the fairness and effectiveness of the tax system will be undermined. He said that the drop was caused by several factors, including the long-term decline in staffing, the need to assign compliance staff to customer service duties during the filing season, and added responsibilities from the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.

Student Loans

The office got several calls during tax season related to student loans. Has anyone found that a school to which they’re applying asked for proof that they have filed their taxes? Please contact the office if you have experience with this. Thanks.

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Thanks

Heartfelt thanks to the following groups that have given since our last newsletter:
Military Tax Resistance of Lane County
Ithaca (NY) War Tax Resisters
Central Committee for Conscientious Objection
Maine WTR Resource Center
Greater Westchester (NY) Alternative Tax Fund
Louisa Alternative Fund

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CPTI at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva

by Dirk Panhuis

Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI) is an international NGO having special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. While the Security Council and wars (often called “humanitarian interventions”) are more frequently in the news, the most important work of the UN is done in ECOSOC and its numerous organs. One of these organs is the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR). CPTI's task is to seek recognition of the right to conscientious objection to military taxation (COMT) in international forums.

The CHR meets every spring for six weeks to debate a series of items related to human rights. Progress and violations of human rights around the world are reported on, resolutions are written, debated, and voted upon. Outside the meeting room, government delegates and NGOs organize open information sessions on specific topics and closed meetings for drafting resolutions.

Agenda item 11, conscientious objection to military service, came up in early April, and CPTI sent two representatives to Geneva to introduce our concern. Bart Horeman (from the Dutch movement Euro’s voor Vrede, and Dirk Panhuis (secretary of CPTI) attended one week of the 57th session of the CHR.

Item 10 was still being discussed in the beginning of the week, so we attended other meetings in the mean time. We met with representatives of WRI (War Resisters’ International), IFOR (International Fellowship of Reconciliation), QUNO (Quaker United Nations Office – Geneva), and PCI (Pax Christi International) to discuss CO to military service and the next moves on this topic in the CHR. We also tried to make contact with a number of NGOs or people who might be interested in COMT.

From Wednesday afternoon till Friday afternoon item 11a-g (all sub items mixed together) was dealt with. There was no real debate, but rather a long succession of speakers: For example, 79 NGOs spoke for five to seven minutes each.

It must be said that such a meeting is at the same time hectic and boring. Some speeches are predictable. Many of the topics listed under item 11a-g stay on the agenda for many years and are well know to informed people: for example, violation of human rights in Indonesia, Chechnya, Timor, China, Kashmir, Mexico, and Turkey, (to name just a few). Some NGO speakers were not very diplomatic, but their voice should be heard so that violations of human rights can be denounced. The constructive work goes on more slowly elsewhere: in the corridors, working sessions, and in drafting resolutions. In the vast meeting room, people were constantly entering and leaving, talking in the back, exchanging documents, and making appointments with delegates, while several hundreds of other people listened to a speaker in one of the six official languages of the UN. A constant hum of voices accompanied the meetings all day long.

On April 5, Bart spoke for six minutes on behalf of CPTI. The ideas were new for delegates and NGOs. It is hard to know the impact the speech made. After the speech, several people rushed to the speaker to get a copy of his oral statement. Thirty copies of his text, as well as many copies of the written statement were distributed very fast. We left some more copies in the back of the room. The text of the oral statement can be found on our web site: www.cpti.ws. A written statement is there also.

With our written and oral statements we clearly have made a good start, and we have become somewhat familiar with the workings of the CHR. We have raised the issue and have come in contact with WRI, IFOR, PCI, and QUNO. We should look for other sympathetic allies among the hundreds of NGOs. While this work goes on, we should also educate NGOs and government delegates about our conscientious objection to military taxation and our desire/duty to pay for peace, and clear up all kinds of misunderstandings. After advocating our concern for some years, we will try to enter into discussions with government delegates and to draft texts on COMT. For that we need long-term vision, and planning. We should look at the many possibilities for action, networking, education, advocating, drafting texts, etc.

Last but not least, one has to keep in mind that such work has two directions: one goes bottom up, the other goes top down. Many individual COs and movements have shown their commitment to COMT in word and deed at the grass-roots level. CPTI brings the question up to the highest level: the UN. The UN already upholds the right to CO (to military service) and some day may also honor our right to pay not for war but for peace. That decision would be a powerful sign for governments to take our conscientious objection to military taxation seriously. In the meantime our plea to grass-roots activists and national movements would be to go on with their actions and to bring reports on violations of COMT as a human right to the attention of CPTI. Particularly seizures of goods or salaries, court cases on all levels, and court cases brought to the Human Rights Committee constitute a powerful testimony and a strategic means to substantiate the claims of CPTI in the meetings of the CHR.

Dirk Panhuis is the secretary of CPTI.

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Touched by War Tax Resistance

The St. Louis Covenant Community of War Tax Resisters hosted NWTRCC’s 2001 spring gathering in early May. A day of panels on Saturday centered around the theme “Touched by War Tax Resistance.” The first panel, “Projects and People,” was a redirection of tax collars, with the grantee organizations present. Representatives talked about the work of their group and how the money would make a difference.

The second panel focused on how challenges to wtr can deepen and broaden community. When two house were put up for auction i Colrain, MA, a vast outpouring of support came from all over the country. And when the couple who had bought Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner’s house later fell upon hard times, they received support from wtrs with whom they had previously been at odds. One wtr from Western Mass feels that the support in the Kehler/corner case has kept the IRS at bay in that area. Their strategy of singling out a vocal activist did not work in this case.

In Bill Ramsey’s case when he received several rounds of harassment from the IRS, the St. Louis community repeatedly responded with creative support. When Bill was in jail for 30 days, 20 out of 30 nights, a meal was provided. Supporters cleaned the house, washed dishes and walked the children to school. Some of these folks sere not wtrs, but knew and respected Bill and his work. The myth that families can’t do wtr was challenged.

When Bill was asked by a judge how he could refuse to pay into the government when the US Army Corps of engineers was providing flood relief in St. Louis, he responded by writing out a check of redirected money to the Red Cross and delivered it personally at the flood relief site.

Later when Bill became the subject of a criminal investigation, a call was put out to all supporters, and 30 people wrote in saying they were going to become wtrs. Two months later, the case was dropped.

Over and over these groups showed that community can subvert the fear of isolation and separation that the IRS tries to inflict.

The third panel was about enterprises that have come out of wtr. Discussion centered on alternative jobs in general, on social security and health benefits. One person made the point that most people in the world don’t have access to health or retirement benefits, and it seems like a luxury to have them. What is real security? Not an insurance policy, but community.

the last panel, “Movements and Mutual Aid,” looked at interactions between wtr and other campaigns. Chris Inserra, a wtr from Chicago and an active member of SOA Watch, encouraged us to keep pushing the wtr message at SOAW board members. Lauren Cannon, active with Voices in the Wilderness, a group that focuses on the sanctions against Iraq, talked about how her group has been formed and strongly influenced by wtrs. Because these folks were already doing civil disobedience in the form of wtr, it was not difficult to think about disobeying the embargo and bringing medicine into Iraq. She was open to strengthening ties to NWTRCC. “WTR is a way that we can do smart sanctions,” she said.

We attended a concert that evening which benefitted Bill Ramsey’s work, Human Rights Action Service. A group from Chicago, Voices, sang on social justice themes. Three checks of redirected money were presented there, and bill announced the wtr meeting happening that weekend.

The Coordinating Committee meeting on Sunday had 14 people in attendance. We decided on new Administrative Committee members, talked about legal issues, and about locations for upcoming meetings. The fall 2001 meeting will be in New England, the spring 2002 meeting may be in Oregon. We talked about eh possibility of doing the fall 2002 meeting at Ft. Benning, GA, in conjunction with the protest at the School of the Americas. The new Administrative Committee members are: Sasha Vodnik of Richmond, VA, and Paula Rogge of Austin, TX. They join Bill Glassmire of Corvallis, OR and Bill O’Connell of Birmingham, AL. We chose three people as alternates to the Administrative Committee: Jessica Stewart of Ithaca, NY, Peter Smith of South Bend, IN, and Rick Bickhart of Colorado Springs, CO. More descriptions of them will be found in the next newsletter. We will try to convene a legal working group that will prioritize tasks and report back in November.

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An Auditory Encounter with the IRS

by Robin Harper

On August 3, 2000, I and a supporter found our way to an IRS building in our area. We met Mrs. Harris and Mr. Means (not their real names.) She is a Tax Auditor and gentle mother of two; he is a Frivolous Tax Coordinator, a no-nonsense hard edged chap from IRS headquarters in Philadelphia.

My 1997 and 1998 returns had been selected for examination. Under question were my deductions for medical expenses in 1998, the year I had paid my entrance fee to Friends Life Care at Home. Also under question were my contributions to some thirty organizations each year, representing the redirection of my entire federal income taxes away from weapons and war.

After scheduling my appointment with Mrs. Harris, I had received a surprising letter from Mr. Means, with copies of court decisions in both the Browne and Adams cases enclosed. His letter summarized the government’s argument that everyone must pay federal income tax to IRS, regardless of religious beliefs. (I sent a copy to Peter Goldberger, and he told me it was improper for IRS to raise legal arguments in preparation for an ostensibly routine audit.)

Brass Tacks

So we set to work. First I produced my contract with Friends Life Care at Home, showing that I had paid the full entrance fee in 1998. Since FLCH had advised me that the full amount was legally deductible as a medical expense, I assumed nothing was amiss.

Then it was on to the organizations which had received my alternative peace tax payments. The two of them wanted to see if I could claim them for charity. I had never claimed deductibility for these contributions, even when it applies, for I view these payments as taxes, not charitable donations. But this viewpoint was beyond the understanding of Harris and Means, so they painstakingly checked the 501 (c)(3) status of each group. This gave me a chance to offer running commentary about the remarkable, peaceful and nonviolent work being done by these groups.

Bit by bit the atmosphere changed.

Mr. Means: “What do Quakers believe?” (I described the Peace Testimony.)

“Aren’t there a lot of Quaker war tax resisters? (sadly, no.)

Oops!

After more than two hours into the session, our new-found “friends” dropped the comment that for year 1997, IRS, in a processing order, had mistakenly given me credit for my alternative peace tax payments of $4441. They implied that I would naturally disagree with their attempt to correct their accounting error and that I would use their appeal procedure and perhaps pursue the matter in Tax Court! (That appeared to be the reason why Mr. Means had loaded me up with legal arguments and court decisions.)

I quickly assured them that an accurate accounting should of course be established, but that in no way could I alter my refusal to deliver my tax dollars into the US military machine. Earlier I had described how my Conscientious Objection was rooted in our Quaker Peace Testimony and how I had performed two years of civilian alternative service with a self-help housing project during the Korean War.

Openings

With his defensive posture evaporating, Mr. Means told us that his father fought in the Korean War and came home tormented by post traumatic stress disorder. Thereafter he would have nothing more to do with guns, “because he had seen what guns can do.” That gave my supporter, who had lived through World War Two in Germany, an opening. Drawing a parallel with my war tax refusal, she pointed out how German income taxes funded the governmental atrocities of the Third Reich.

Mr. Means also told us how he had dealt with many tax protesters.

“Some of them are armed and dangerous,” he said with a little swagger in his voice. He described how there are scam artists who take advantage of persons with federal tax liabilities. They will offer the “service” of writing a letter to IRS (for a $20 fee), and then end it to the wrong person in IRS. When no progress is made, they offer to send another letter for another $20, etc.

At one point, when I was describing how the International Center has been installing solar water purification units in Central American villages, Mr. Means broadened our discussion, noting that the scarcity of safe water is becoming a global problem. In my followup letter to our interview, I sent him a copy of an eye-opening article from the Resist newsletter discussing this issue in depth.

Near the end I took the opportunity to unfurl the large chart which chronicles my war tax redirection these past forty-one years and to describe how I was first propelled into war tax protest by US nuclear atmospheric bomb testing in Nevada and the Pacific.

And in conclusion

After more than three hours (and well past normal lunchtime), the two finally closed the interview with smiles and friendly handshakes. Mr. Means even admitted that his title of “Frivolous Tax Coordinator” was really a substitute for “Tax Protester Coordinator,” an internal administrative category which Congress had abolished in recent Taxpayer Bill of Rights legislation.

Some impressions gleaned from this experience

Despite their training to be suspicious (all taxpayers are trying to get away with something), IRS folk, like all human beings, can be positively affected by openness, honesty and sincerity. Transparency can often trump suspicion.

I have learned how we all hunger for caring, person-to-person exchanges. Look how a one hour audit stretched into more than three hours, much of which involved genuine sharing far beyond the scope of the audit!

As our discussion rose above tax details, Mr. Means, the tax protester “sheriff,” was led to cast aside some of his official person and let his personal feelings and thoughts come through. He also became increasingly interested in discerning what makes war tax refusers tick. I am sure he came to understand that our witness is anything but “frivolous.”

Robin Harper is a peace taxpayer of many years, living in Wallingford, PA.

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Local Group Reports

SOUTHEAST

Two NWTRCC activists are among 26 indicted for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. Clare Hanrahan, a former Administrative Committee member from Asheville, NC, and Karl Meyer of Nashville, TN, were scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate on May 22. The defendants face up to six months imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines. News of their trial and sentence will appear in the next newsletter.

NEW ENGLAND

The 33rd Annual Meeting of New England War Tax Resistance was held in Cambridge, MA on April 28, with the theme of “WTR in the ‘W’ Years” (referring to George W. Bush.)A panel of three folks spoke about what they see coming in years ahead. Randy Kehler spoke of the importance of connecting with the anti-globalization movement. Becky Pierce said that Republicans may actually make wtr easier, as they hate the IRS more than the Democrats, though she also felt that there’s not much difference between Republicans and Democrats. Hattie Nestel talked about her journey, and stated that it’s good to remind ourselves periodically of why we’re doing this, to rekindle our anger at outrageous injustices.

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NWTRCC Business

Letter to the Editor

Dear NWTRCC friends,

I was very happy to see Peter Goldberger and James Feldman's response to the "Easy Ways to Reduce Your Taxable Income" article that had earlier appeared in MTAP. After reading the initial article, I called the author to discuss his strategy. I was immediately uncomfortable with the possibility of deducting family vacations or children's school costs as business expenses. I came away from the conversation certain this approach had no relevance to my conscientious witness of war tax resistance. I have long been self-employed for the explicit purpose of resisting the assessment and collection of military taxes. And I am always interested in thinking about ways that WTR's can create new strategies of resistance. Manufacturing untruthful deductions, however, is not compatible with the path I want to take.

Peace,
Carolyn Stevens

Stories!

Have you received an inheritance? Will you be receiving one? Does that raise uncertainty in your mind regarding your wtr? Are you concerned about your retirement? These are the most common questions that come into the NWTRCC office (besides new folks asking the basic “how to” questions.) To provide assistance with these issues, NWTRCC is hoping to write a practical on war tax resistance and retirement/inheritances. In addition to researching facts, we’d like to compile stories for background and for possible inclusion in the booklet. If you would like to tell us your experience with these issues, please call or write the office. The stories can be anonymous, if that is preferred.

Thanks!

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The Evolution of Our War Tax Resistance

by Raymond and Monica Woodruff

We considered war tax refusal for many years. Finally, on April 2, 1974, we told the IRS that unless the US stopped its militaristic course, we would begin refusing some of our income tax money, sending it instead to some UN or other projects. We soon began refusing and redirecting a percentage equal to the military expense percentage of the federal budget. I was the pastor of a church in Elyria, Ohio, at the time, and I announced to my congregation what I was doing, and that it was in protest especially of the Vietnam War. The announcement, in a sermon, led to a heated, but satisfying, group discussion following the service.

When the Vietnam War ended, we wrote to the Internal Revenue Service, expressing our gratitude, and paying up all the money which had been refused.

We didn’t begin to redirect the war tax again until well into the 1990’s. One reason for waiting so long was that we felt that one effect of refusing would be to create a bit of inflationary pressure, since our money, even when contributed to human service and peacemaking projects, would remain in circulation. However, we began to feel it was far more important to make a personal effort to discourage war than it was to keep inflation down. Now we refuse to pay an amount that is equivalent to what is spent on current war and war preparation, but do pay for what is often called the cost of past wars. No matter how it was incurred, we want to get the national debt paid. We also want to pay the costs of veterans’ benefits, because we feel veterans are victims of war more than they are perpetrators (even though many do act on pro military ideas which were inculcated in their training).

On April 7, 1996, the IRS levied $1,600 from our bank account.

In 1997, we learned that it was possible to make direct payments into a fund to reduce the national debt. This was a chance to contribute to reducing inflation and the national debt. Therefore, each year we give to the national debt reduction fund an amount somewhat higher than the redirected amount of income tax.

From our 1999 taxes owed, we redirected $542. We maintain an escrow account with the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia, containing an amount sufficient to cover what IRS claims we owe. We make it clear that when a Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund is passed by Congress, we will make the amount of redirected past taxes available to the government. We also belong to the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, which reimburses people who need help in paying penalties. Thus far, we have not needed to take advantage of this help.

Each time we send in an estimated payment we explain what we are doing, including some facts about horrors and violations of American democratic ideals resulting from military actions, military preparations, and “defense”-based policies. In our last such letter we explained that we were sending the money to organizations which work to protect [real] world security. We also made a plea for the World Peace Tax Fund.

We think it helpful to be able to let many people know that our redirected funds go to organizations (like Peace Brigades International, Global Peace Services, etc.) which are doing work which actually increases national and international security, whereas we believe that money going to war making thoroughly endangers the world and our own nation. It would be great, we think, if a sizable group of people with our convictions could establish a scholarship fund for people who enter the field of nonviolent international security. Such a fund could have a name which would tell applicants that the donors were moved by the conviction that their work would be the finest possible contribution to the actual defense of our self-government, freedom, and safety from attack.

It would be great if an organization could form in which members helped each other develop lives and economic relationships based on nonviolent, creative love rather than the quest of money or dominance could form. If such a group was able to present alternatives to the present combative systems based on grasping for personal or group advantage, it would have great power in moving the world toward justice, peace, safety, and sustainability. We would like to be part of such a group. In fact, we may be already!

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National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

PO Box 6512
Ithaca, NY 14851
(800) 269-7464
E-mail: nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org

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