National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

More than a Paycheck:News from the War Tax Resistance Movement
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August 2002. HEADLINES IN THIS ISSUE:

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WTR Groups Give away Over $22,000 in 2002

by Diana Desnoyers

With the flurry of tax day activities behind us for another year, it is once again time for the alternative funds from around the country to report on how they are channeling their tax moneys. Alternative funds are bank accounts into which wtrs deposit resisted or redirected tax dollars. Non- wtrs are usually welcome to deposit money as well. Interest from alternative funds is usually dispersed by the groups that maintain them. Sometimes grants are given. An alternative fund is a way for resisters to support community organizations and promote the peaceful, sustainable society we envision for our future. Alternative funds also support the war resistance effort and resisters who need assistance. Some give only to local groups who work in areas like social justice and economic equality, while others give to organizations working in international peace and justice efforts such as a global exchange delegation to Afghanistan or a human rights delegation to the West Bank. NWTRCC surveyed twenty-five funds; eleven responded.

The number of active members ranges from three funds with one member each to one group with 304 members. We appreciate the commitment and hard work of those groups with one member and wonder about the recruitment strategies of the fund with 304 members. Well done!

Of the eleven surveyed, seven have escrow funds. Escrow funds hold resisters' money, often giving interest to local groups, but the resister can retrieve it when needed. Over half of the alternative funds redirect their money and fund WTR work. Three make loans; two of these are interest free. This year four groups were inactive because their funds were nearly depleted or in suspension.

The groups invest in a variety of peace and social justice concerns in the United States and internationally. One group invested over half of its funds on international human rights and peace efforts, and the other half on economic inequalities in its community. In fact, the majority of the groups invested some of their moneys on basic needs for the poor. This trend of increased economic disparity is an obvious outcome of current military spending that may worsen in the near future. Others invested in county discretionary funds, credit unions, money market accounts, savings bank, and the PAX world fund. Most report that they return resisted taxes if the resister is in need.

Total money given away in 2002 by eleven funds was $22,482. As only eleven groups responded to the survey, we expect the actual amount redirected from alternative funds alone this past year to be closer to $50,000. The majority of those surveyed give grants in April. The usual amount granted is anywhere from $100 to $4,000. One alternative fund reports granting almost $2,000 more than their last grant cycle. The types of groups funded by wtrs in 2002 include: youth trades and GED training; youth workforce program; international peace efforts; homeless and low income programs; education and action designed to inspire nonviolent dissent in a democratic society; challenging the military spending by the current administration; regional peace centers; post-September11th curricula; social justice in India; books for the incarcerated; cutting edge activism; battered woman shelters; soup kitchen and crisis ministry; native peoples housing projects; international peace and human rights efforts in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the West Bank; international child welfare organizations; and of course, NWTRCC. Thanks to Diana for conducting the survey and for writing this article!

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Wally Nelson: A Revolutionary Inspiration

by Bob Bady

Wally Nelson died on May 23, 2002. He died in much the same way he lived his life: without fear, and surrounded by people who loved him.

Wally was born in 1909 near Little Rock Arkansas, son of Duncan and Lydia Nelson. He was the second youngest of sixteen children. His father was a Methodist minister, and the family spent a few years sharecropping.

Wally grew up in segregated Jim Crow society, where the elders were former slaves. He learned firsthand the smell and taste of oppression, and the roles of master and slave. Through values he largely attributed to his father's teachings, he grew to liberate himself from these roles.

In the 1920's and 30's, Wally's first experiences with activism came through Christian Youth groups. While he didnmt consider himself a Christian after this period, it was during this time that he embraced pacifism and developed his organizing skills.

In 1942, Wally entered a civilian public service camp (CPCS) for conscientious objectors to military service, along with other anti-war activists of his generation. After a year at the CPCS camp, he rebelled against the complicity of this "service to the war makers." Describing his CPCS experience as akin to slavery, he walked out of the camp. This led to a 33 month prison incarceration which concluded with an 88 day fast. While in prison during WWII, Wally met Juanita Morrow, then a reporter for a Cleveland newspaper. A couple of years after his release from prison they formed a life-long partnership. These two lovers and comrades formed an inspiring duo for the remainder of the century. Their differing strengths and weaknesses interlocked into a sum that surpassed each impressive individual.

Wally was active in helping to shape the nonviolent philosophy and activism of the postwar civil rights movement. He partook in freedom rides to integrate buses in the South in 1947. He was the first paid field organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In the early fifties he directed workshops on nonviolent direct action that led to desegregation of public places in Washington D.C.

Wally and Juanita became war tax resisters in 1948 after attending the founding conference of the group "Peacemakers." This group of war resisters made the connection between the permanent war economy being created and the expansive income tax system that was being established to support it. Over the next 54 years, Wally steadfastly refused to "pay for killing people." He took a position of complete non-cooperation and was most proud of an admission once made by a Philadelphia IRS agent: "We'll never get that Nelson fella to pay a dime."

Wally's lifework of activism was augmented by many jobs including carpentry, shoe shining, youth activities director, egg salesman and bookplate salesman. In 1970, after overcoming Wally's hesitation resulting from his childhood sharecropping experiences, Juanita convinced Wally to return to the right livelihood of farming. For the last third of his life, first in New Mexico and then in Western Massachusetts, Wally and Juanita lived simply on the land, without modern utilities, raising most of their own food and selling produce for their small cash needs.

Wally believed deeply in nonviolence. In 1980 he wrote a short statement that is classic Wally:

"Nonviolence is the constant awareness of the dignity and humanity of oneself and others; it seeks truth and justice; it renounces violence both in method and in attitude; it is a courageous acceptance of active love and goodwill as the instrument with which to overcome evil and transform both oneself and others. It is the willingness to undergo suffering rather than inflict it. It excludes retaliation and flight."

Wally possessed two prominent if very different attributes that created the nonviolent activist he was. He loved people, he was incredibly accessible to everyone and seemed to treat everyone as his equal. He embraced being alive. He relished talking, dancing, sex and ice cream.

Wally was also the most un-intimidatable person I ever knew. Many times in his long life he held fast in the face of verbal and physical attack without retaliation or flight. Juanita describes Wally as being "a stubborn man who just does what he believes rather than being introspective about it." For Wally Nelson, the distance between the recognition of the right thing to do and acting on it was very short.

War tax resistance was Wally's most consistently favorite issue. He never missed a meeting or a demonstration. Two weeks before his death, unable to get out of bed, he told me in a matter-of-fact way that he'd be at our war tax resistance clinic to be held in a couple of days. For Wally, war tax resistance was very simple. This quote of Wally's perhaps best demonstrates his understanding of WTR:

"We don't intend to cooperate with the IRS in its attempts to make us pay for killing. What would you do if I came into your office tomorrow with a cup in my hand, asking for contributions to enable me to buy guns and kill a group of people I don't like?"

If I hadn't met Wally Nelson, I would never have come to believe that nonviolence and war tax resistance were more than impractical fantasies. Wally made these intellectual ideas practical by living them every day.

By striving to live a simple, low consumption lifestyle, and by treating the many people with whom he came into contact with dignity, respect and love, Wally sought to live his every day personal life in a revolutionary way. By also directly confronting the powers that perpetuate violence and oppression through nonviolent direct action, be it the war machine or racism, Wally related to the injustices of the world in a revolutionary manner. He integrated the personal and the political into an activist lifestyle that was a model for many, many people. This was Wally's greatest gift, something that has been passed on and shared, something that cannot die.

Juanita has asked that contributions in Wally's name be given to Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance, NWTRCC or The Valley Community Land Trust. The address for PVWTR and the Valley Community Land Trust is: c/o Eveline MacDougall, 216 Davis St, Greenfield, MA, 01301.

Bob Bady is a longtime wtr living in Brattleboro, VT, and a member of the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance.

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Counseling Notes:

Social Security

This news from Robin Harper, a longtime wtr in Pennsylvania: lI know I am not the only one, but I wanted to let you know that for the first time, IRS has begun to hit me for 15% of my monthly Social Security payment. (I began receiving S. S. payments about three years ago.) [NWTRCC lawyer] Peter Goldberger tells me that he knows of at least one other long-time resister in our area experiencing the same collection move.

I have a hunch that you are hearing the same from other quarters. So IRS has finally found a way to "turn on the spigot" in my case, but at the rate of 15%, they will never catch up with my refusing, and redirecting, 100% each year! In case you didn't know, your social security payments can be garnished by the IRS IF they are over the poverty level and you owe the IRS money.

Employers Standing by Levied Employees

Phil and Louie Rieman are war tax resisters and ministers, currently serving in Indiana. Their church received a letter ordering them to levy the Riemans for money owed the IRS. Here's a report from them:

"We had a meeting on April 7, 2002 at which time the church courageously said no to the IRS in keeping with the peace position of the church and out of respect for our decision of conscience. That was most reassuring. (There have been two families which have left more or less because of this church action. It was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back.) Since then nothing further has happened vis-a-vis the church as far as we know. The IRS did, however, on May 9 send us a reminder notice saying, in effect that we are hereby warned that they may put a lien on us, and are duly authorized to collect/seize in whatever way they see fit. We sent them a letter inside of the 10 days allowed. No response from them as yet."

One Million Taxpayers for Peace

"... I withheld the $10.40 from my tax return and sent it to One Million Taxpayers for Peace, and within a month I got a demand for payment, with penalty and interest (!).." Has anyone else had this experience?

Home-Based Business Schemes

NWTRCC subscribes to a weekly review of IRS policy and court cases. This keeps us in touch with any issues affecting war tax resistance. In a recent issue, we noticed that the IRS warns against schemes that claim to offer tax relief, but actually result in illegal tax avoidance. The promoters of these schemes claim that by setting up a bogus home-based business, individual taxpayers can deduct most, or all, of their personal expenses as business expenses.

Readers of More Than A Paycheck may remember that we highlighted just such an idea about a year and a half ago. Our legal advisor, Peter Goldberger, subsequently warned us not to endorse such methods.

IRS Web Page for Schemes and Cons

On a similar note, the IRS has set up a web page for schemes and cons. It links to recent IRS news items about enforcement efforts and warnings about common tax scams. For example, it includes information on the scam that claims Social Security withholdings are refundable. More Than A Paycheck is not endorsing these resources. We're simply offering them so that readers can see for themselves what the IRS is claiming is and is not legal. the web address is: www.irs.gov, then link to "Tax Scams/Fraud Alerts."

Individual Retirement Accounts

A war tax resister in Maryland has been doing the following with his IRA accounts. He would like to know of the experience of other wtrs regarding IRAs, specifically regarding avoiding seizures by the IRS.

In the first year, he opened an IRA in socially responsible fund A. In year two, he transferred that IRA to fund B, closing the fund A account. In addition to the transfer from fund A to fund B, he made an initial investment in fund B.

Fund A reported his money to the IRS. Fund B did not report the transfer from fund A, but it did report the initial investment. He plans to transfer the entire balance from fund B to fund C to avoid IRS collection. In the future, he will make initial investments in funds D, E, F, etc., closing the accounts in those funds and transferring them to fund C when the initial investments are reported to the IRS. He believes that as long as he only makes transfers and never makes an initial investment in fund C, his money will not be reported to the IRS.

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MANY THANKS

Many thanks to the following groups that have given since our last newsletter. Your support makes a difference!

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's working group on Conscience, War Tax Concerns & Militarism

New England War Resisters League, in memory of Wally Nelson

Birmingham (AL) War Tax Objectors

Mennonite Central Committee

Resist gave $1500 to help us update our booklet War Tax Resisters and the IRS. Resist provides small but timely funding for grassroots peace and justice groups. Their contact information is: 259 Elm St, Suite 201, Somerville, MA, 02144. Phone: 617/623-5110.

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Network List Updates

These are changes in the network list that gets sent out each fall.

National Groups -- The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund has changed its website address to www.peacetaxfund.com

Mid-Atlantic Region -- In Maryland, change Al Moss' email to almoss@bcpl.net.

Central Region -- In Missouri, change John Klotz' address to: 383 Locust, Apt. 16, Dubuque, IA, 52001. Phone is 563/583-2586.

North Central and Southwest Regions -- In Boise, ID, S. Thoreson is no longer the contact. 314 Jasper Lane was an incorrect address.

Northwest Region -- In Alaska, remove Chris and Jim Hall as area contacts. Add an email address for Stephen Wilson: kswilson2@earthlink.net.

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Legislative News

Chatting Up Congress: Practical Tips on How to Lobby

by Steve Olshewsky

Steve Olshewsky, a wtr from Texas, spent time in May lobbying for the Peace Tax Fund Bill. Here is his report.

Eight days in our nation's capital was nearly the death of me. The food is so rich, the parties so lavish, and the politicians so engrained in the culture, that there is almost a calling for simpletons like me to thin it out. Whether by novelty or serendipity, I found myself repeatedly attempting to speak truth to power in the halls of Congress.

The week before I left home, the Just Peace Institute let me bring a white box with the words "Letters to Congress" written in red marker to their meeting. This brought to 37 the letters I hand carried to Representative Kevin Brady's office. On my way to catch the plane in Austin, the same box at one of the local restaurants got 56 letters for Representative Lloyd Doggett. Eighty-five letters for Senator Phil Gramm and 90 letters for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison were also gathered. Previous trips to Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston & Waco picked up another 110 letters to 22 additional Federal Representatives from Texas.

Hand delivery turned out to be a welcomed alternative to the anthrax protocol. Unfortunately, all letters mailed to Congress are now detoured to Toledo, Ohio. There, everything is irradiated as a safety measure and sent to a clearing office for high security delivery.

The chemical composition of the paper is changed by the radiation, so letters end up stuck together and smelling bad. Some office staff have reported getting sick from handling and reading these treated letters.

Presenting yourself in person to Congressional office staff is easy, efficient, effective and fun. While making appointments is recommended, I found little need for that in the open-door hubbub of Washington. In fact, the one appointment that I did have was canceled at the last minute.

It worked well for me to just walk right in and say, "Is there anyone here who can talk to me about the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund?" Sometimes they would ask for a business card and I would add that I was up from Texas. They often asked what the bill was about or if there was a bill number so they could determine which staff person should talk to me according to whether it seemed like tax, religion, judicial or whatever the delineation of issues in that office.

So you may thus gain the opportunity to express yourself verbally to an ear that is better prepared to hear, understand and even be more helpful than the Representative or Senator. If nobody is available, decide whether you want to amble back down the hall and try again later or just leave your well prepared literature.

Whether you meet with someone in person and hand them the written material you prepared, or just leave it for them, write down their name and any impressions you got from or about them. Meeting in person will involve getting their business card, but otherwise writing down the staff member's name will facilitate referring to them when you follow up with thank you notes. When leaving materials for someone, it feels a bit more personal and may make the impression that you really care to ask for whom you are leaving it.

Preparing handouts is a great way to organize your thoughts and presentation about your favorite legislation. Using a single sheet, and as much spacing as possible helps the reader feel that it is simple to grasp your message and forces you to become more straightforward in expressing your views. I wrote a cover letter making my best pitch for the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund and then printed a letter of introduction from the Live Oak Friends Meeting (Houston) on the back of that. My 18 page double-sided brief had an index on the front and page after page of items making arguments for or supporting the Peace Tax Fund in various ways. An article from the local paper on Tax Day was even included.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has a building right across the street from the Hart Senate Office Building. On my eighth and final day of lobbying, I went to FCNL and used their computer to write letters following up with the 25 Republican members of the House Ways & Means Committee (plus Tom DeLay). These letters summarized what I had learned from talking to the tax staff of their committee and introduced the videos I hand delivered that last afternoon.

The numbers of contacts I made impressed the FCNL staff and they asked my secret. So I told them that the key thing seems to be actually showing up in person. Also, lunchtime turns out to be a bad time for meeting people in the House offices, but a good time for meeting people in the Senate Offices. Other than that, there is so much work to be done and so few people doing it that a person could hardly miss if they make any effort.

Throughout the whole process, I kept thinking that anyone could do this, as there is no experience necessary and no skills or training required. By the same token, I often wondered who would do this if not me. The deathly lavish culture is distracting, but political action on the grandest scale is as easy as a cheap plane ticket.

You can speak truth to power by simply writing a letter. My experience suggests that you will be even better heard for taking the additional step of delivering that letter in person.

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War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions

The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund is Alive and Well

The following article was provided by the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, a grassroots insurance fund for war tax resisters.

The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund began almost 20 years ago when Ronald Reagan was president, the US-backed Contras were hard at work on our behalf, nuclear disarmament was a hot topic, and US Marines had been bombed in Beirut.

Military tax resisters were refusing to pay all or a portion of their income taxes to support mad (and MAD!) military policies of the United States, and were being socked with large penalties, interest, liens, garnishments, and at times, seizure of their property to settle accounts. As a result of widespread tax fraud, the IRS would soon create the "frivolous penalty," charging $500 for claiming extra dependents on the W-4 form.

A core group of 83 people decided we could easily share $463.14 in penalties incurred by a few military tax resisters if we divided their penalties and interest between us. The more people we could recruit to pay a resisterms costs over and above his ore her tax liability, the lighter the burden for everyone. With the little help we could provide, resisters were able to keep on.

The penalty fund had the added benefit of making us all tax resisters, not just those who withheld all or a portion of their income tax. At most wemve had 800 people to share the fun. And wemve almost always had at least 200 people on the list. In all, wemve paid out over $212,500 to resisters to help them stay in the struggle.

How the Penalty Fund Works
Send us your name and address and we'll add you to the list of supporters who are willing to share tax resistersm penalties. Periodically we review requests from resisters against whom the IRS has moved and divide what they've paid in penalties and interest among the people on our mailing list. Shares have been as high as $30 but are usually less than $10. Contributors pay all if they can, or whatever they can afford. Some pay more than their share. We divide what we get from our appeal among the needy resisters. If we canmt cover all their indebtedness, we cover as much as we can. On average, wemve reimbursed 80% of the amounts requested.

Contributors who decide to become resisters may also apply to the fund for assistance after they have paid assessed fines or the IRS has seized penalties and interest. All we ask is that resisters provide us with copies of tax forms, any correspondence theymve had with the IRS, and a copy of their letter of conscience submitted with their income tax returns.

Resisters do not need to be members of the Penalty Fund before applying for aid, but we hope they'll become contributors thereafter.

We do not make any distinction between those who resist altogether, those who resist a symbolic amount, and those in between. If we were purists, we would all be living below the taxable income anyway, so we avoid judging and cheer on anyone who will say no to paying for war.

Who Administers the Fund?
Our mailing list includes people from all over the country, but for convenience mostly, our mailbox is located in North Manchester, Indiana, where the idea for the penalty fund was hatched. Members of our steering committee are from in and around this burg. We have tried at times to share the rewards of the job with others, but members felt it was working well the way it was. We even encouraged other communities to develop regional penalty funds, and a few exist around the country. The beauty of the fund is that it could be done anywhere.

Why We Do It
If money could buy security, wemd be the most secure country in the world. The National Priorities Project reports that "the combined military spending of Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Cuba and Sudan is still over $190 billion less than the total military spending of the United States." So the futility of protesting against the huge machinery of the military industrial complex is no more so than the attempt to have security through strength.

Effective or not, conscience dictates that we protest the conscription of our money for activities we would never assent to if we had to do them ourselves. And who knows, in any small action there may be the seeds of a mass movement or the ability to turn even one person into a dove.

Military tax resistance is a witness to the power of peace and the vigorous exercise of personal conscience. Besides that, we're buoyed by the fellowship of people who have given up on convention and want to invest in nonviolent action.

The address for the Penalty Fund is: PO Box 25, N. Manchester, IN, 46962. Email address is: jlgarber@ctlnet.com.

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NWTRCC Business

Happy Birthday, NWTRCC: Fall Meeting Scheduled for Columbus, GA

War tax resisters in the southeastern United States are helping to organize our next national Coordinating Committee meeting, to be held November 15-17. We are departing from our traditional meeting date, which has been the first full weekend in November, in order to plug into the demonstration at the gates of Ft. Benning, where the US Army School of the Americas is located. SOA Watch has held a demonstration there every year since the early 1980's. NWTRCC will join the thousands who oppose this notorious "School of Assassins."

We have reserved bed space in a motel close to the gates for 60 people who are attending our meeting and the SOA rally. The NWTRCC Coordinating Committee meeting will be held Friday afternoon, November 15. After that, our plan is to plug into the SOAWatch event for Saturday and Sunday. We hope to have a very visible presence, such as all wearing the same T-shirt, and maybe offering on the spot wtr counseling. We would also like to hold a NWTRCC 20th anniversary celebration on Saturday evening. If you would like to help with the planning of that, please contact the NWTRCC office. We anticipate more people than usual coming to this meeting, as folks can combine the SOA event with a NWTRCC one, and also because of the birthday party. So, come!

Columbus is about 100 miles southwest of Atlanta. It is accessible by bus, car, or plane. If you want bed space that we have reserved, contact the NWTRCC office. Cost is approximately $9 per person per night, depending on filling the beds. (We plan to pack the rooms!) Breakfast will be provided by the motel. For other meals, folks will be on their own.

Flyers for the event should be going out in the net list mailing in early August. If you're not on the net list, and would like a flyer, contact the NWTRCC office.

NWTRCC's Annual Report

The NWTRCC annual report for 2001 was sent out in late June. If you would like a copy, please contact the office. The annual report summarizes events for the year, and gives a financial statement.

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Resources

Draft Counselors' Manual

The Center on Conscience and War (NISBCO) has the 6th edition of its Draft Counselors' Manual available, for $25 each. For more info, call the center at 202/483-2220, or email to: nisbco@nisbco.org.

Jailed for Justice: A Woman's Guide to Federal Prison Camp

by Clare Hanrahan

How to navigate an abusive and punitive system and keep your center, your purpose, and your balance, while speaking truth to power and wielding the power of truth.

First edition, 131 pp, spiral bound. $8, plus $2 each for mail orders. Available from the author at P.O. Box 7641, Asheville, NC 28802; chanrahan@ncpress.net. Volume discounts available. Contact Brave Ulysses Books, 60 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC 28802; 828-254-1653; charlie@skyrunner.net.

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Local Group Reports

Austin, TX

The Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation held a fundraiser in mid-June for Thad Crouch, who is being levied at his job. The fundraiser was a cajun-style dinner, and was titled lBreaking Unlevied Bread Together.n About 25-30 people turned out, and close to $500 was raised. Information about war tax resistance was available. A few letters were collected, and tax form peace cranes with Doggett's and Hutchison's local phone numbers and emails were handed out. Group members say that the event was inspiring, and that his story is touching a lot of people.

Philadelphia

Since last fall, the Conscience, War Tax Concerns and Militarism Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has expanded 50% -- to 20 active members! They report that they have their hands full helping Quakers in general, and younger Friends in particular, to cope with the current rampant militarism.

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Perspective

Let's Alleviate Suffering, Not Create It

by Elaine Martinez

In May, 1986, while visiting an orphanage in Guatemala, I watched workers starting to build a new dormitory and thought, "That's what we should be doing -- building." At the time, our government was supporting the Contras in an effort to overthrow the government of Nicaragua. The Contras were killing civilians and destroying infrastructure.

Today many people are hungry and homeless, even in the US. We should be building relationships, homes, schools, hospitals, feeding the hungry, and working to increase the rights of workers: alleviating suffering, not creating it.

The US bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7, 2002. At Grandparents Day at the Harrison Street School in Geneva, IL, on October 26, I found myself unwilling to say the pledge of allegiance. Early this year I started to think about not paying my taxes, and on April 10, I sent in my 1040 without payment, along with a letter explaining my conscientious objection to war. This makes me a newcomer to war tax resistance, but my decision was based on many years of disagreeing with our governmentms policies.

Over my lifetime I have looked to the Bible and other literature to help me understand what life is all about. Henry David Thoreau has been a favorite of mine, and I re-read Civil Disobedience while trying to decide. Dietrich Bonhoefferms The Cost of Discipleship and Letters from Prison have influenced my thinking. Jack Nelson Pallmeyerms War Against the Poor and his talks have inspired me. I wish that everyone in this country would read Robert Woodwardms Veil - the Secret Wars of the CIA. The CIA is known throughout the world for overthrowing governments, but not here in the US.

In the 1980's I became especially interested in what the US was doing in Central America, traveled there twice, joined the Chicago Presbytery Task Force on Central America, Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance, and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. I have gone to Ft. Benning in Georgia the past four Novembers to protest the School of the Americas where the US Army trains military leaders from Latin America in kidnapping, torture, disappearances and assassinations so that they will put down the uprisings of the poor. We've been training terrorists since the end of WWII.

Along with trying to know as much as I can about our government's policies, I have studied the Bible, including the history of the Israelites and the writing of their prophets. I have dedicated my life to Jesus, his teachings and his life.

Violence breeds violence. Jesus' command to "love your enemies," is the only way to break the cycle. Jesus also commanded us to love God and to love our neighbor. Love is the answer to why we exist. When we trust in weapons to keep us secure, try to get more for ourselves and disregard the plight of others, we have misplaced our trust. By developing, producing and selling more weapons than any other nation ever since World War II, we have helped to foment wars around the world. In fact, I believe our "war against terrorism" has given the rest of the nations permission to do the same. (Israel's recent rampage is an example.)

The seed for war tax resistance was probably planted when my husband attended the Allied Mennonite Seminary in Elkhart, IN, from 1958-61. I became aware that some of the professors were refusing to pay their taxes, but I never knew the details. I have contributed to churches, peace and human rights groups, environmental organizations and those that advocate for the hungry, homeless, illiterate, oppressed, tortured and ill. This reduced what I owed the government in taxes. Since I retired in 1995, up until this year, I was able to decide to have nothing withheld from my pensions and Social Security and to pay what I owed in April. Some years while employed, I sent a letter of protest, but the government already had the taxes that had been withheld.

While protesting at Ft. Benning in 1999, someone handed me a brochure from NWTRCC and I sent for more information after I returned home. I was glad that I had these materials when I was trying to make my decision.

I had some reservations while struggling with this issue. If I made no payment, I thought to myself, I would not be helping with programs that do good. The reservation that bothered me most was that the government in the long run would end up with a lot more money through payment of interest and fines.

Early this year during our pastor's study session, I mentioned that I was thinking about not paying my taxes. He asked me more about my thinking, gave others a chance to react, and wanted to encourage dialogue in the congregation, so I wrote a Statement for the Visitor. Most of the response has been positive from the members of my Lutheran Church. Mary Loehr of NWTRCC helped to settle my fear of losing all future Social Security payments. Richard Blackburn of Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and Gary Cozetter of CRLN were very supportive after reading my statement.

Elaine Martinez is a wtr living in Roselle, IL. [Return to List of Headlines]     [Return to NWTRCC home ]     [Previous Newsletter]

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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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