National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

More than a Paycheck:News from the War Tax Resistance Movement

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

October 2003 Contents

Subscriptions are $15/year, for your own complete illustrated paper copies.

Editor: Ruth Benn
Layout: Ajay Advani/Susan Quinlan

More Than a Paycheck is the bimonthly publication of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a clearinghouse and resource center for the conscientious war tax resistance movement in the United States. NWTRCC is a coalition of local, regional, and national affiliate groups working on war tax related issues.

NWTRCC Mission Statement: NWTRCC sees poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and militarization of law enforcement as integrally linked with the militarism which we abhor. Through the redirection of our tax dollars, NWTRCC members contribute directly to the struggle for peace and justice for all.

Click here to download an
Acrobat PDF of the October issue

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NWTRCC On the Web;   Internet Outreach Adds Up

If you think no one is paying attention when you leaflet on tax day, think again. On April 17, 2003, the NWTRCC website received more than 30,000 hits on our website. Compare that to the average hits per day for the first eight months of 2003:

January
395
February
645
March
1,082
April
2,386
May
410
June
310
July
557
August
540
RIGHT: April 2003 hits on the NWTRCC website

Equally striking, in July the statistics take a jump on the 26th when 2,813 people visited the site and then on July 27 there were 5,589 hits. What happened just before that? The news broke that the Justice Department was suing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and appearing in papers around the country was an Associated Press story that included mention of NWTRCC.

The statistics available about visitors to our site also show the most popular pages. During the first two weeks of September, the home page received 874 visits, and the next most popular page is about the telephone tax. After that publications, contacts, statement of purpose, projects, what is war tax resistance, the August 2001 issue of More Than A Paycheck, latest news, links, and meetings received 60 visits or more.

What is a hit? In reality it is anyone who opens the page even for a second. It includes all of us who look at the site regularly for one reason or another and can be a few hits by the same person. However, it certainly includes hundreds of new people-around in the world-who have some interest in war and taxes (some more friendly than others, judging by the NWTRCC email).

The exciting thing about the web is the broad outreach that is possible, and we have taken some time this summer to make changes to the NWTRCC site that we hope will keep more of those visitors engaged. The homepage got a makeover, we added a downloadable order form for literature, and have a "latest news" banner with links to articles or helpful counseling information. We are open to your suggestions and hope to add more photos (please send them in to the NWTRCC office) and update news items regularly.

Our webmaster is Peter Smith, Michiana War Tax Refusers, who keeps things up-to-date, uploads the latest newsletters, and generally watches over the site. You can contact Peter through the webmaster address on the website. His volunteer assistance is invaluable. The website is an important outreach tool, but as most small organizations have found, it is also a time-consuming addition to our already long lists of tasks.

 

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Quaker Group Faces Court Action

By Priscilla Adams

In July 2003 the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of IRS filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). PYM had earlier received a levy to garnish my salary for taxes I have refused to pay during the time period of 1986-1996 and PYM, following its 1988 policy, refused to honor the levy. The lawsuit seeks to collect about $42,000 in taxes, interest and penalties, and, in addition, asks the court to impose a penalty of 50% of that amount on PYM for refusing to garnish my paycheck.

IRS/Justice Department took similar action against PYM in 1988 in regard to two other employees. In that case the court reluctantly agreed with IRS that PYM should pay the tax and its associated interest and penalties. However, the court refused to enforce a 50% penalty on PYM. That case was decided in 1990, just after the issuance of the Supreme Court's most restrictive decision on free exercise of religion and prior to the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was designed to overturn that decision.

On September 18, the governing body of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, which includes representatives of over 100 Quaker Meetings, made the decision to challenge the Justice Department's lawsuit in court. They will argue on the grounds of religious freedom, and it may take some months for argumaents to be filed, responses made, and a court date set.

PYM's attorney on these matters is the gifted, skillful, and conscience-led Peter Goldberger. He has done an excellent job of working with the Yearly Meeting's staff and leadership to inform Friends of the facts and issues, as well as keeping Friends focused on discovering what actions the corporate body of Quakers could take in light of the governing legal rules and the Meeting's principles.

The case has received significant publicity, appearing in local newspapers and an Associated Press story was picked up in other parts of the U.S. (including the New York Times) and in international press. There has also been radio and television coverage. Several schools have asked me to speak. Email and telephone inquiries (mostly supportive but some not) have come from all over the country. It is clear that through the media and presentations, many people have for the first time heard of conscientious objection and war tax resistance. For others it has been a way to find similar thinking people when they did not have contacts before.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and myself. Many Quakers and others have asked what they can do. PYM's Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns group (CMWTC) sees that the legal actions initiated by the U.S. government create openings which are not normally available for educational, lobbying and fundraising projects. CMWTC has begun exploring these projects.

In addition to this lawsuit, IRS is sending frequent letters to PYM demanding taxes that PYM has withheld from my paycheck but not forwarded to the government. IRS can seize this from PYM bank accounts and has done this sporadically, but not for several years. IRS is also sending me many letters threatening levies for other years of resisted taxes.

Please contact me if you would like more information: Priscilla Adams, 609-835-4285 or peacepc@aol.com.

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Justice Department Is Busy: On the Patriot Act

As most readers know, the United States Justice Department is a busy place these days (see story above and Voices letter also). Attorney General John Ashcroft has been running around the country lobbying for his PATRIOT Acts - I and II. (The first was passed by Congress in October 2001; the second is still a series of proposals that have not been introduced to Congress.) On the happy side, protests have followed Ashcroft from coast to coast. Still, the U.S. continues to hold hundreds of prisoners in Guantanamo with no access to legal advisors, and U.S. forces add daily to the prisoner count in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the government talks constantly about "national security," the actions of the Justice Department have led to further insecurity for immigrants in this country, especially those of Arab descent.

Do war tax resisters also have new worries? At this point it would appear that wtr's do not stand out any more than do other persons active in civil disobedience and protest. The PYM case has been brewing for some time. The other new activity we are seeing as war tax resisters, the warnings about frivolous fines, could reflect a glitch in the IRS bureaucracy and are probably most related to IRS efforts to crackdown on what they refer to as "schemes" for not paying taxes. The IRS has been especially focused on some of the most visible proponents of constitutional arguments against taxation in general. But it is still too early to be certain on this score.

Last May, Legal Aid Attorney Steve Bingham spoke on "The PATRIOT Act and War Tax Resisters" at the NWTRCC conference, sponsored by Sonoma County (CA) Taxes for Peace. His assessment is that there are no new provisions that target war tax resisters in particular, but, of course, we are affected by the general erosion of civil liberties. The broad definition for domestic terrorism that is part of the PATRIOT Act could lead to applications against a wide array of groups that the government doesn't like; however, at this time there is no indication that wtr's are at increased risk. The IRS and government have long had the power to pursue war tax resisters.

Bingham advised us all to support local resolutions against implementing provisions of the PATRIOT Act that now have been passed by over 157 cities, and to support libraries that have set policies of noncooperation with government agents who ask for their book-borrowing records. It's critical for us to be aware of what's happening to immigrants in our communities and to support the lawyers and groups who do their best to assure civil rights and legal aid to persons whose rights are violated, whether by arrest or by questionable stops and searches.

In terms of the war tax resistance network, Bingham recommended that we keep better records of IRS activity, tracking the types and numbers of everything from letters to court cases so that we can identify trends and patterns more quickly. He also suggested that we intensify our organized support for war tax resisters. He noted that we seem to be dealing a lot more individually than we ought to and that everyone feels more powerful when they are surrounded by support. With new resisters coming into our circles, we should all be asking if our groups are visible enough and offering enough support at all stages of resistance.

(Thanks to Paula Rogge and Jenny M. for notes)

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Counseling Notes:

Frivolous Letters

In the last issue we reported on the many wtr's who received letters from the IRS in the last few months warning that they should file again or face the $500 frivolous fine from the IRS. At this point we know that some who filed normally but refused to pay have been told that their original form would be accepted with no late filing fee.

One wtr wrote of her experience with the IRS in getting them to accept her original form: "The main thing I learned from my experience was to be persistent in making the IRS representative actually review my originally filed form and tell me why it was declared frivolous. The first person I had spoken to at IRS, who had an unsympathetic attitude, urged me to just refile. That didn't make sense to me, since the letter seems to threaten an additional $500 fine. 'If...you file another return taking the same or any other frivolous position, we will assess the frivolous return penalty on each frivolous return filed.'" Ask for a supervisor if the first person you talk with is unhelpful.

Longtime war tax resister Robin Harper sent NWTRCC a list of "talking points" he gleaned from legal advisor Peter Goldberger to help in conversations with the IRS. We print that here, along with the IRS regulations on the frivolous fine for background. We will try to add updated information on the NWTRCC website as the pattern and IRS response become clearer.

Talking Points

  1. Observe that my self assessment is correct. My computation is in no way misleading.
  2. Perhaps the examiner was confused by reading my (attached) letter of conscience.
  3. If you look at my return again, you will see that it does not contain information on which the substantial correctness of the self-assessment can be challenged.
  4. Please correct this error.
  5. I suggest the person who wrote this letter should be retrained (so they fully understand the DUAL requirements which must be fulfilled in order for a return to be deemed "frivolous.")

Here are the IRS regulations, which show the above mentioned "dual requirement":

Sec. 6702. Frivolous income tax return

(a) Civil penalty, If (1) any individual files what purports to be a return of the tax imposed by subtitle A but which (A) does not contain information on which the substantial correctness of the self-assessment may be judged, or (B) contains information that on its face indicates that the self-assessment is substantially incorrect;

and

(2) the conduct referred to in paragraph (1) is due to (A) a position which is frivolous, or (B) a desire (which appears on the purported return) to delay or impede the administration of Federal income tax laws,

then such individual shall pay a penalty of $500.

IRS "Experts" Lacking but Improving

To emphasize the value of persistence when calling the IRS about problems such as the frivolous fine letters, we note a recent study that showed that Taxpayer Assistance Center employees incorrectly answered 25% of tax law questions from taxpayers in March and April of 2003. The study is conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration as required by an amendment to the FY 2002 federal spending bill to find out if taxpayers are provided correct and prompt answers to their questions. The auditors also determined that IRS employees did not follow referral procedures for 62% of questions asked that were beyond the employee's training level. However, the 2-year study is showing that the IRS is improving on its accuracy. The New York Times ran a brief report on September 4, 2003, that said the results of the study from July to December 2002 showed IRS help centers gave correct answers to just 57% of questions asked.

Late Filing Fees

A clarification from Robert Randall:

I should point out to folk that the penalty for filing late is not one that is only connected to the recent spate of unjustified frivolous filing penalty warnings. It is a problem that I have encountered year after year. I am dealing with it again on my 2002 return, for which I did not receive a warning about frivolity. On this one an agent in Kansas City admitted to me that there has been a big problem with this. Apparently entry clerks are coding the dates when they open the envelope instead of the postmark date. Resisters should pay attention to what your penalties are for when you get that first dun.

Attn: Midwest Verizon Wireless Customers

From Cathy Luebbering, St. Louis:

I have resisted payment of federal taxes as a customer of Verizon Wireless for more than two years now, and it has been quite a wild ride! Each month I inform the company that I am conscientiously refusing to pay the federal taxes, the amount, and why. Until recently, the company refused to acknowledge war tax resisting, and charged late fees and even disconnected my service temporarily. I am so grateful for the NWTRCC newsletter - because one month it carried a piece written by another Verizon customer, indicating she had spoken with a company representative, and there had been some conversation with them about war tax resisting. The good news is that here in the Midwest region, Verizon is now recognizing customers who choose to resist payment of federal taxes as a statement of opposing payment for our country's war-making. I was asked to write a letter to the Verizon office at 777 Big Timber Rd. Elgin, IL 60123. Once they have written notification of a customer's war-tax resistance status, they will code the account and make adjustments on the monthly bill. A Verizon (Midwest region) contact name and telephone number can be obtained by contacting Ruth Benn in the NWTRCC office.

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MANY THANKS

Thank you to all the groups who have given since our last issue. Your support helps keep us going!


Michiana War Tax Refusers
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

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A Call for 20,000 Voices

From Voices in the Wilderness
"The U.S. Justice Department has sued Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) to try to collect a fine of $20,000 from VitW for bringing medicines to the people of Iraq. Over the past seven years, Voices in the Wilderness has organized more than 65 delegations to Iraq made up of teachers, veterans, social workers, artists, health care professionals, trades people and people of faith. Many of these delegates carried symbolic amounts of medicine as an act of civil disobedience against the injustice of the economic sanctions; they then returned to the United States to tell about the brutalizing effects of the sanctions, magnified by the U.S. bombing of the Iraqi civilian infrastructure during the Gulf War.

"Voices in the Wilderness will not pay this fine. All funds received by Voices in the Wilderness were given to us for the purposes of providing humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians and educating the world community about the deadly effects of the U.S. bombing and embargo of Iraq. The Justice Department is choosing to spend its resources to launch an attack on Voices in the Wilderness at a time when Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers are being killed daily, and the U.S. occupying forces have failed to provide for the security and basic humanitarian needs of Iraqi people. Meanwhile, the U.S. has not found any of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that supposedly were the reason for the economic sanctions, bombing, and recent military invasion. This lawsuit offers an extraordinary opportunity for people of conscience everywhere to denounce the U.S. Administration for its role in the illegal bombing and invasion of Iraq and for imposing a 13-year sanctions campaign on Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and thousands of people.

"VitW calls for 20,000 or more citizens of the world to raise their voices in outrage against the injustice and hypocrisy of this lawsuit. Join your voices with ours as we call upon the Justice Department to drop their lawsuit against Voices in the Wilderness and instead direct their money towards the humanitarian efforts of NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) working in Iraq, the clean-up of the hundreds of tons of depleted uranium now polluting Iraq from U.S. weaponry, and the payment of reparations to the families of Iraqi victims of the U.S. invasion and occupation."

What you can do:

  • Write to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530 or fax to (202) 307-6777
  • Sign the Voices letter/petition to Attorney General Ashcroft on the Voices website: www.vitw.org.
  • VitW also pledges to raise $20,000 in donations for the humanitarian needs of Iraqis. Checks made out to Voices in the Wilderness with "20,000 voices" written in the memo line will go directly to NGOs serving the humanitarian needs of Iraqis. We will never use any of your donations to pay U.S. penalties for performing works of mercy. Please mail checks to Voices in the Wilderness, 5315 N. Clark, PMB #634, Chicago, IL 60640.
  • See www.vitw.org for other ways to raise your voice.

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NWTRCC Business

REGISTER NOW FOR NWTRCC MEETING

If you plan to come to Chicago for the November 7-9 meetings and gathering and you haven't let the office know yet, please do fill out the registration form on the NWTRCC web site (or ask for a brochure). Help us with our planning by registering by October 17.

SOA, November 22-23

NWTRCC will have a table at the 12th annual Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action to close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, and some wtr folks are staying at the Econolodge. If you would like to coordinate with war tax resisters there, please contact the NTWRCC office, and we'll hook you up. For information on the action see www.soaw.org or call SOA Watch at (202) 234-3440.

War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund Turns 20!

Congratulations to our friends at the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund. Since it was founded in 1983 the fund has collected almost $220,000 to help resisters keep up their protest. The WTRPF is based in North Manchester, Indiana, and carries out its mission of helping cover some or all of the interest and penalties that the IRS may collect from a war tax resister. The fund accepts requests for help from those on its mailing list, and then divides the dollar amount of all requests by the number of people on the mailing list. Thus, the most recent contribution requested is for $18.03 from 837 people to cover $16,971 in support requests (plus a little bit for printing and postage of the mailing). It's a great system that has worked pretty darn well for over 20 years. Thanks to the Indiana folks for keeping it going!

WTRPF can be reached at Box 25, N. Manchester, IN 46962

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Resources

Sticker Outreach

Two calls from people new to war tax resistance came into the NWTRCC office within a week of each other. In each case when the caller was asked how they had heard about us they replied, "I saw a bumpersticker." So congratulations to two people out there in Minnesota and Wisconsin who are advertising NWTRCC on their cars, bicycles, or backpacks. Get your bumpersticker today! Only $1 from the NWTRCC office.

Slide Shows!

Buried in the far reaches of the storage space in a former NWTRCC Coordinator's home, lo and behold there recently appeared 20 copies of the slide show, "More Than A Paycheck." While the finder suggested the dump was a good option, the editor decided to make these available to readers one last time before that suggestion is taken. Created in 1985, the slide show is dated in terms of politics and appearances; on the other hand it still is a good basic introduction to war tax resistance.

If you would like a copy (slides and cassette tape) for the price of postage ($2.26 media mail), contact the NWTRCC office. And then, if you have suggestions for producing a new audio-visual wtr presentation please be in touch with the NWTRCC office.

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War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions

Report from New England Gathering

The 19th Annual New England Regional Gathering of War Tax Resisters, September 12 - 14 in Amherst, Massachusetts, brought sixty people together for a weekend of sharing stories and talking organizing. The setting for the meeting was in the beautiful common house of Pioneer Valley Cohousing, a community of 32 households who live on 25 acres, owning their living spaces but sharing the land and communal spirit.

The weekend's theme was "Confronting Our Fears," as regards refusing to pay for the military in particular. Long-time war tax resisters Ed Hedemann and NWTRCC's Coordinator Ruth Benn gave the opening talk, offering some analysis of why people committed to peace are not war tax resisters and, in particular, offering organizers some arguments for breaking through the myths about war tax resistance, such as "I'll go to jail," or "I'll have to completely change my lifestyle." Ed has written a new brochure, available from the NWTRCC office, called "Why Isn't Everyone Who's for Peace a War Tax Resister," that gives short answers to many such questions.

Small group discussions allowed individuals to talk about their own fears as potential or long-time resisters. In one small group someone came with two sealed letters from the IRS, seeking support from others as she opened them. An afternoon panel of four talked about their individuals travels in war tax resistance, their fears in getting started, and the support along the way that has been helpful. Among the attendees traveling all the way from Boston was 96-year-old Cynthia Foster, who is now facing down the IRS over their efforts to collect from her social security and pension checks.

Having a supportive community nearby is ideal, but having one fellow-traveler go along on an IRS visit can be all that is needed.

Group reports reflected lots of war tax resistance organizing activity throughout the region, with workshops being offered regularly. In Boston quite a few people have received levies, and one held a party when her salary got levied to help her deal with it. Juanita Nelson reported on offering "salons" at her home on Woolman Hill. She advertised three open-house type evenings to talk about war tax resistance and planned her evening to adjust for no visitors or 10. In the end, 21 people participated, and she never had to leave home!

Many gathering participants expressed an interest in having a meeting spot at national anti-war demonstrations for a wtr contingent. If there's a demonstration in your city, send the coordinates for a meeting spot to the NTWRCC office and we'll try to get the word out and have a presence together.

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Local Group Reports

CMTC Announces Grants

On September 1, the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia announced $6,794 in grants to seven peace and justice organizations. The grant money is primarily interest from the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign, the largest escrow account of resisted war taxes in the U.S. This was NACC's third round of grant-making, and our process for soliciting and awarding the grants went very well. We received grant applications from twenty-two organizations around the country, asking for a total of $38,400. Through several rounds of evaluation and discussion, we made our awards as follows:

Non-Military Options of Youth in Austin, Tx, $300. NOY is a volunteer group providing counter-recruitment literature and speakers in Austin high schools. Their grant will fund an entire year's budget.

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, WA, $1,000. PJALS, long an activist center in Spokane, will use their grant for work on a living wage project, and education programs related to white/hetero privilege and nonviolence.

Community Alliance for Global Justice in Seattle, WA, $1,000. CAGJ is working on a fall media and action campaign to build resistance to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposal.

Appalachian Peace and Justice Network in Athens, OH, $994. APJN is initiating an education and direct action campaign called "Liberating Ourselves: Working to Bring War Dollars Home" in four Appalachian counties.

Student Environmental Action Coalition, Philadelphia, PA, $1,000. SEAC, a national coalition of campus activists is starting a new campaign on "Militarism and the Environment."

East Timor Action Network, Madison, WI, $1,500. The Madison ETAN chapter has established a sister-city relationship with Ainaro, East Timor. The NACC grant will be used to purchase agricultural kits for 50 farmers in the area, including sets of tools, seed packets and a four-language poster on making organic compost and fertilizer.

Peace of Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, Topeka, Kansas, $1,000. The Center is greatly expanding its Close the SOA solidarity work, with the goal of sending twenty-five people to this November's demonstrations, and increasing local awareness and support.

NACC will conduct another round of grant-making in 2004, and there's information about the program on our web site: www.nacc.info. Those of us involved in the process find it inspiring to read about all the good work going on, and feel that it's a privilege to help out with our funds. We always welcome new escrow account depositors, so if you like what we're doing and want to participate with your resisted tax dollars, please get it touch.
-Carolyn Stevens
for NACC

Editor's note: More redirection reports will be coming in the next issue. The recent survey sent to alternative funds is being analyzed, and we hope to add in some accounts of individual redirection to begin to show just how much money is being diverted from the military to life and peace. Please contact the NWTRCC office by email or phone with your redirection report.

S.O.S.-Save Our Site!

One Million Taxpayers for Peace is in urgent need of a new home. A number of people at the May NWTRCC Conference wanted to renew the campaign to make OMTFP truly national. Now is the time to come forward! Or, more appropriately, to email us, pronto. If you don't, the site and the campaign may fade into hyperspace. Right now, we are paid up through November 2003, and the cost is $63 quarterly.

Sonoma County Taxes for Peace is unable to carry the campaign. The energy is just not here, although a few individuals may contribute time to it. And Sara, who's been hosting the site itself, handling the mail and much of the writing, is moving away-i.e. changing email servers as well as post offices-and needs to put her time/energy elsewhere.

So, people are needed to minimally: 1) Host the site and email, get domain name pointed correctly to new site, and change link to email on site, as well as post an update about the changes; 2) Collect mail, changing address on site, if necessary; 3) Handle email; and, 4) post updates as necessary. This will keep the site up as a resource on symbolic resistance that has attracted the participation of many new resisters.

And, more than minimally: do whatever to get the word out there, and the numbers of contributors geometrically climbing! Someone who knows marketing would be an ideal addition!

If you are willing to help, please email 1mt@monitor.net or phone 707-823-9203. Thank you so much!
-The Folks at OMTFP

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From the NWTRCC (e)mail box:

Dear NWTRCC Folks - I've been resisting taxes for a number of years now. I've often wondered about using April 15 as Tax Day because by then people have already decided what to do. Have you ever considered choosing an earlier date - like late January when people receive their tax info from employers - as, say, Tax Education Day? That's the time for letters to the editors to hit the newspapers, it seems to me, giving people some time to consider what they are doing paying taxes and to learn the alternatives. (It might, for instance, encourage someone like me to send my IRS tax refusal letter to a paper - or at least show it to more friends. I'm surprisingly reticent about this. Maybe there are others like me who would come out too if it might encourage others.)
Jem Mara, Oregon

I…hope NWTRCC will consider mounting a strong push to organize WTR education/actions on "anti-tax" or "untax" day, i.e., October 15--six months before/after April 15. More than once at 4/15 events I've had sympathetic taxpayers tell me they wish they had known about WTR well BEFORE their taxes were due.
-- Michelle

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Other Things You Might Do with $87 Billion

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

(Excerpt here. The complete article is available at: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corp-focus/2003/000160.html.)

You can actually get a few things done with $87 billion, the amount that President Bush has asked Congress to appropriate for expenditures related to the military occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.

For example:

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN bodies estimate the cost of providing treatment and prevention services in developing countries for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria at $12 billion a year.

The WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health estimated that donor investment of $27 billion a year, including expenditures on TB, AIDS and malaria, as well as to eliminate death and suffering from other infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies, could save 8 million lives a year. That's eight million lives. A year.

The UN Development Program estimated in 1998 that the annual additional cost of achieving basic education for all was $6 billion.

Prefer to spend some or all of the money at home? Even in the United States, where the dollar doesn't go as far, $87 billion can perform some pretty impressive feats.

For example, according to Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, it would only cost $6 billion a year to provide health insurance to all uninsured children in the United States. You can provide Head Start and Early Head Start to all eligible children for $8 billion annually. You can reduce class size to 15 students per teacher in all first-, second- and third-grade classrooms for $11 billion a year.

For $87 billion, you could eliminate the backlog of maintenance needs at national parks nearly 15 times over. You could cover more than half the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 20-year investment needs to ensure safe drinking water throughout the United States. You could more than double the annual capital expenditures needed to improve public transportation in the United States, according to estimates of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. You could provide almost half of the overall funding EPA says is needed to provide clean watersheds in the United States, including through wastewater treatment, sewer upgrades and nonpoint source pollution control.

It just so happens, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, that $87 billion is almost exactly what all departments in the federal government combined spend annually on education, training, employment and social services. So you could fund that for a year.

If you looked at the $87 billion as found money, and wanted to do something unorthodox, you could eliminate California's state budget deficit two times over.

And, you would still have enough left over to enable the Detroit Tigers (baseball's worst team) next year to field a team full of Alex Rodriguez's. (Rodriguez, at $25 million a year, is baseball's highest-paid player. A full roster - 25 players - of Rodriguez's would cost $625 million.)

... A strange circumstance has evolved in the United States. Military expenditures can be justified at almost any level. ("Whatever it takes to defend freedom.") Politicians don't say, "Whatever it takes to make sure every child in this country has a decent education." Or, "Whatever it takes to deal with the worst health pandemic in the history of the world (HIV/AIDS)." When it comes to the military, there is neither a sense of proportion, nor of trade offs. . . .

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and The Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

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National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • Email: nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org
www.nwtrcc.org