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

June 1997

[More Tax Day Actions Than Ever!]
[Counseling Notes$]
[
Legislative Update]
[International]
[Resources]
[War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions]
[Quakers Review Their WTR Stand]
[Outreach to Ministers]
[NWTRCC Business]
[Local Group Reports]
[Is This What We Are Afraid Of?]
[Perspective]
[About More than A Paycheck]

More Tax Day Actions Than Ever!
NWTRCC collected information on the tax season actions of 58 groups this year, an increase over the last several years when about 50 groups reported in. Media response was eclectic, including an interview with Betsy Corner on CNN about the documentary, An Act of Conscience, a short quote on Monitor Radio by Karen Marysdaughter, a two-hour appearance by Texas WTR and tax attorney Steve Olshewsky on a radio call-in show hosted by former Congressperson Jim Hightower, an interview with Geov Parrish on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles, quotes from Washington DC WTR Carol Moore in the periodical Money Daily, and the pick-up of a WTR article in Minneapolis by the Associated Press. Reporters from some local papers also contacted us. Many thanks to Bill Ramsey of St. Louis for his excellent media work on behalf of NWTRCC!

In our next issue we will report on Alternative Fund grants for 1997. Meanwhile, here are highlights of some local actions: Asheville, NC - In addition to leafletting on April 15th, the Taxes for Life! group paid for a half-page ad in a local weekly paper a few weeks in advance, asking "What will your federal taxes buy this year?" They listed nine great things our tax money will buy, such as the largest standing military force in the world and military pollution of the environment. They also advertised an evening dialogue on WTR and invited the public. Austin, TX - Thanks to some great leadership by Andy McKenna of the Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation (ACOMT), a coalition of groups came together on tax day with the theme, "Taxes for human needs, not the military." Over 150 organizations, including social workers, educators, labor activists, environmentalists, and others were contacted by mail, fax, phone, and flyer in the months before April 15. The groups that ended up sponsoring the event, in addition to ACOMT, were the American Friends Service Committee, the Austin Greens, the Austin Peace and Justice Coalition, Earth First!, the Texas Alliance for Human Needs, and the University of Texas Students for Nonviolence. About 35 people altogether held signs and leafletted from 4:30pm to midnight at the main post office, giving away about 3,000 pie charts. Members of Earth First! staged a skit with Uncle Sam and a general; when the general was "exposed" his belly opened up and toys and play money pour out for the people.

All four TV stations provided good coverage. Steve Olshewsky appeared on two local radio shows as well as the Jim Hightower program mentionned above. Two people had letters printed in the newspaper.

ACOMT felt the effort was a rousing success! It greatly energized, focused and united their five-person support group, got their message out in a big way, and built links to other organizations for future work on federal budget priorities.

Brattleboro, VT
About 15 members of the Tax Resisters of Conscience group vigiled, leafletted, and sang at the post office. They gave away $2440 in redirected tax money to eight human service organizations. Front page stories appeared in the Brattleboro and Rutland papers.

Buffalo, NY
The Western New York Peace Center helped to organize a tax day speak out on the military budget. They had good media coverage from radio and TY.

Cambridge, MA
New England War Tax Resistance organized a discussion on April 7th entitled, "War Tax Resistance and Radical Movement Politics: Where Are We?" as an attempt to look inward and take stock of WTR as a movement. Dave Dellinger, longtime peace and justice activist, and Taylor Stoehr, University of Massachusetts professor and editor of Paul Goodman's work, assisted the discussion. Sharings covered a wide range, from powerless and commodification of life, to jazz, to inspirational stories, to the mass media and meaningless work, and to the Peace Tax Fund bill.

Decatur, GA
Three people leafletted with the WRL pie chart and "business was brisk." Although the local TV station ignored them, they received coverage in the Decatur news monthly. The reporter even helped leaflet for about 10 minutes!

Des Moines, IA
Iowa Peace Network (IPN) and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) decided to highlight the impending budget cuts in the Des Moines public school system with the theme, "It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." They held a bake sale for the schools, co-sponsored by three other groups, and got coverage from two TV stations. The $321.25 raised was presented to the school board at their televised meeting on the evening of the 15th, with Deborah Fisch of IPN speaking about how much money is going to the military versus education and suggesting that people write their legislators and ask them to cut military spending. IPN and WILPF also leafletted at the main post office in the evening.

Elkhart, IN
Christian Peacemaker Team members conducted a penny poll at the post office and elicited responses from 418 people. Housing/health care got the biggest chunk at 29%, and the military got just 10%.

Eugene, OR
Military Tax Resistance of Lane County, Eugene Peaceworks, and Eugene-Springfield Coalition for Tax Justice leafletted, petitioned, gave away money, and held a bake sale and penny poll from 9am to 11:30pm on April 15. They had a skit at noon featuring citizens with balls and chains, and corporations with balloons. The crowd booed and cheered appropriately! They also did a one-hour public radio show on "The spiritual basis of our war tax resistance" with WTRs of Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, and Quaker backgrounds. The paper printed an Op Ed on the same theme. The WTR group gave away a total of $912 to six different groups.

Ithaca, NY
One of the members of the Ithaca WTR group posted pie charts all over the city, including at the post offices with the tax forms, in the weeks prior to tax day.

Madison, WI
The Southern Wisconsin Alternative Tax Fund group leafletted at the post office together with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Post office security has become more antagonistic every year, trying to push the group completely off post office property and out on to the public sidewalk. For the second year in a row the group held their ground on the walkway by the main entrance. Despite threats, the security folks did nothing.

Maine
War tax resisters organized and/or participated in leafletting, penny polls, and grant giveaways in four locations on April 15th. The demonstrations got front page coverage in Norway and Augusta, and live TV coverage in Bangor making a $500 Maine War Tax Funds for Life grant to Lucius Walker of Pastors for Peace.

Milwaukee, WI
The local WTR group leafletted and demonstrated at the IRS office in wind and rain, with coverage from one TV station, and gave $100 each to five different groups. They also participated with a coalition to close the School of the Americas, in demonstrations, vigils, and fasting, informing people of the devastation caused by the school and how war tax resistance can be a tool to stop it.

New York City, NY
Members of the New York City WTR group and People's Life Fund held a protest/celebration in front of the main post office in Manhattan with entertainment and speakers. The Fund presented four $500 grants to community groups. For the first time they experienced a clash with the police regarding the existence of a sound permit, which was subsequently found and displayed to the police's satisfaction.

Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia area war tax resisters handed out almost 3,000 pie charts at City Hall from 11am to 5:30pm, along with a penny poll using giant Coke bottles, and a couple performances of a Peace Action skit with a circus barker, a Congressperson, a general, and an arms sales representative.

St. Louis, MO
The St. Louis Covenant Community of War Tax Resisters, along with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom organized a penny poll at the main post office. Also, for the month of April, AFSC placed bar graph ads on 28 MetroLink (public transport) cars, showing the disparity betwen what the U.S. government spends on the military vs. mass transit and nine other categories of federal spending. In the evening members of the alternative fund met to view the documentary, An Act of Conscience, and to decide on grant recipients for $9,400 in refused tax money, which were announced the following day.

San Mateo, CA
At the local IRS office, protesters from the Magdalene House Catholic Worker laid out a cloth altar with candles, flowers, and health care items to represent life, and tax forms with their blood poured on them to represent death. They held a worship service and talked about why they were there. Eventually the Federal Protective Service came and arrested five of the demonstrators. Two people spent the night in jail; the other three were given a court date at the end of May. One person who pled guilty was sentenced to five days in jail. Washington, DC - The Washington Area Alternative Fund and the Louisa (VA) Alternative Fund organized a penny poll on the steps of the Capitol Building, passed out pie charts, and draped long strips of colorful cloth up the steps to represent levels of federal spending in various categories. Together the two funds gave away $7725 to groups promoting human development. A large part of the Louisa fund's money is from taxes resisted over ten years ago - the IRS statute of limitations has run out so the money can no longer be collected.

Western WA
The Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia organized leafletting at seven post offices in the Seattle area, with additional leafletting in Tacoma, Everett, and Bellingham, WA. People from Ground Zero did a penny poll in Bremerton, the home of the Trident nuclear submarine base. Activists on the 10pm shift at one of the post offices were filmed by two local TV stations. Rumors claim that the demonstrators "invaded" one of these broadcasts, but we haven't heard the details yet!

White Plains, NY
Local activists leafleted at the post office from 11:30am until just after 11pm, distributing approximately 2,500 flyers and engaging numerous passers-by in interactive fun. At a noon press conference, the Greater Westchester Alternative Tax Fund donated $750 each to five social service organizations.

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Counseling Notes
Corporate War Tax Resistance
Organizations are getting a chance to explore their corporate conscience on the issue of war tax resistance. In addition to the AFSC situation mentioned in our February issue, NWTRCC has heard about a number of other cases involving employers.

The War Resisters League has received computer generated notices asking for information on an employee who is a war tax resister. Their policy is to ignore notices unless or until an actual IRS agent is assigned to the case and contacts them. Their policy furthermore states they will refuse to honor an IRS levy if the employee requests it.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends recently received a levy notice on an employee. They have re-affirmed their policy to not honor IRS levies and have written a letter to the IRS to that affect, saying, "The Lvey would require the yearly Meeting to act against our employees' testimony and witness. The Yearly Meeting is not ready to take that step."

New England Yearly Meeting also received a levy notice on an employee. Although they do not have a policy of refusing to honor levies, the meeting wrote to the IRS asking them to take the issue up directly with the employee, and in the meantime are not sending any money to the IRS.

A small business in the southwest recently refused to honor an IRS levy on the wages of an employee. Within a short time after receiving the notice the business, at the request of the employee, officially let him go and then rehired him at a level of pay below the levy amount. The local IRS agent threatened to take the business to court to force them to pay the amount they should have turned over. However, because the amount was so small (about $700) the agent's supervisor refused to allow it and the case was dropped.

A non-profit community group in Boston received a levy notice on one of their employees, followed closely by an order from the IRS to start withholding from her paycheck at the highest possible rate. Although the organizations honored the levy, they are willing to consider a policy about refusing to do so. Meanwhile, the resister is planning a fundraiser to match the levied funds and donate the amount to good causes.

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Legislative Update
Peace Tax Fund Focuses on Religious Freedom
In an effort to achieve a Senate hearing on the Peace Tax Fund (PTF) bill in the new Congress, the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund is re-writing the legislation to increase its focus on freedom of conscience and decrease language directed at the tax code. This could lead to a hearing in the House and Senate judiciary committees.

Meanwhile, as the Campaign celebrates the 25th anniversary of its initial introduction in Congress, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has agreed to introduce the bill in the new Congress. Rep. Lewis's leadership in the civil rights movement makes him an obvious advocate for conscience.

Telephone Tax Resistance Reminder
Seven years after the federal excise tax on telephone calls became permanent at 3%, there is still some confusion about the government's use of the revenues. During the war in Vietnam, Congress passed a special tax bill, including a temporary phone tax, in order to raise more money for the war effort. However, the phone tax went into the general fund, just as income taxes do; it did not go directly to the military. After the war ended, the temporary tax was extended a number of times, up till 1990.

When the tax was made permanent at that time, Congress was requiring any new legislation to indicate what revenues would fund it. The sponsors of the Act for Better Child Care claimed that their program could be covered by the telephone excise tax. Despite their claim, the tax still is not earmarked for a particular purpose, neither child care nor the military, and continues to go into the general fund, of which about 50% is spent on the military.

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International
Kossovo Project Selected for International Redirection
Every two years at the International Conference on Peace Tax Campaigns and War Tax Resistance, the participants select a project for war tax resisters from many countries to support with refused tax money. The most recent conference chose an effort coordinated by the International Movement for Reconciliation (MIR), which is the Italian branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). They are opening an "Embassy for Peace" in Pristina, Kossovo, a formerly autonomous province to the south of Serbia. The "Embassy" will monitor human rights violations and establish a mediation service between Albanians and Serbians.

Contributions to the project, preferably in lira, may be sent to: Roberto Mancini, per Campagna Kossovo, c.c.b. presso Monete del Paschi di Siena, piazza Salimbeni, Siena, Italy. For more information, contact the person who recommended this international redirection project: Giorgina Momigliano, Via Furggen 19, Aosta, Italy.

The project for the previous two years, the Joint Nonviolent Contingency Fund of War Resisters International, Peace Brigades International, and IFOR, received a total of almost #12,000 from war tax resisters in France, Sweden, the U.S., Canada, Belgium, and Germany, with the largest contributions coming from Italian and Spanish WTR groups. Much of the money raised funded a feasibility study for international participation in Chechnya. Some remains as a standing account for short-term intervention in areas of conflict.

British WTR Goes Back to Jail
In January of 1997, British war tax resister Roger Franklin spent another ten days in prison for refusing to pay taxes for war. Seventy -year-old Franklin was sentenced to 21 days for refusing to pay the #6881 in taxes he owes. On January 22 he surrendered himself at Gloucester county Court, and in order to save taxpayer expense, brought with him the plastic mug and toothbrush from his last stay in jail. Released after serving half his sentence, Roger is waiting to see what Inland Revenue will do. After his last imprisonment they reduced his tax bill by 10%, which he promptly redirected to peaceful efforts!

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Resources
Self-Help Legal Resources
We've mentioned before the excellent book published by Nolo Press, Stand Up to the IRS, by Frederick Daily. They have a whole line of legal guides, with a number of new ones that may be of help to some WTR's: Wage Slave No More: The Independent Contractor's Legal Guide, by Stephen Fishman; The Legal Guide for Starting and Running a Small Business, Vol. 1, and The Employer's Legal Handbook, by Fred Steingold; andTax Savvy for Small Business, by Frederick Daily. Contact Nolo Press at 1(800)992-6656 for a catalogue.
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War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions
National Film Tour
An Act of Conscience, a 90-minute feature film documentary about war tax resisters Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner of Colrain, MA, will be available for local showings beginning in October 1997. Director Robbie Leppzer of Turning Tide Productions plans to accompany the film around the country and speak at community premieres sponsored by local and regional grassroots activist groups at independent movie theatres, community centers, and on college campuses.

If you are interested in sponsoring a premiere of the film in your community, please contact Turning Tide Productions as soon as possible. They are looking for local activist groups and community organizations to sponsor premieres and do grassroots publicity for the showings.

NWTRCC will be investing some time and energy in promoting local organizing around the film. In addition to contacting Turning Tide, please also let us know if you are interested in bringing the film to your area.

For more information, contact Robbie Leppzer at Turning Tide Productions, PO Box 864, Wendell, MA, 01379, phone: (508)544-8313, or fax: (508)544-7989.

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Quakers Review Their WTR Stand
Dan Lundquist of the Minnesota Military Tax Resisters group has helped to recirculate a 1983 joint statement by the Minneapolis and Twin Cities Quaker (Friends) meetings regarding war tax resistance. The statement calls on Friends to practice "some form of war tax resistance" such as income tax resistance, supporting resisters, reduced tax liability through charitable donations or simple living, lobbying for the Peace Tax Fund Bill, and/or paying under protest. Currently three of the Friends meetings in the area are distributing the statement to discuss and possibly re-affirm it. For copies, contact Dan Lundquist, 3215 Columbus Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN, 55407-2030, (612)822-9714, email:
dan_lundquist@compuserve.com.
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Outreach to Ministers
Susannah Reid of Spencer, WV, sent a packet of WTR literature to the local Ministerial Association with a letter that said, in part, "Would you be willing to look over the enclosed literature, share it with your parishioners, and post it on your church's bulletin board? As tax time approaches, taking a stand for peace becomes even more urgent. A yearly educational effort of this sort may ultimately result in more tax dollars being directed toward humanitarian aid in the future."
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NWTRCC Business
Springtime in Seattle
Seattle was a riot of color - azaleas, tulips, lilacs, magnolias - for our semi-annual NWTRCC meeting, May 2-4. Geov Parrish and the
Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia (NACC) did a superb job organizing logistics, as well as the program for the Pacific Northwest Regional WTR Conference on Saturday, May 3rd.

The Coordinating Committee met on Friday and Sunday at the PRAG House, an urban land trust communal household in a lovely old building. Carolyn Stevens, former NWTRCC Coordinator and resident of PRAG House, prepared delicious meals and provided warm hospitality.

On Friday evening about 30 people shared what was happening with WTR working their local communities, then watched the documentary, An Act of Conscience, about the house occupation action in Colrain, MA. The Pacific Northwest was well-represented with attenders from Ashland, Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland, OR, plus, in addition to the Seattle folks, Washingtonians from Tacoma, Bellingham, and Lopez Island. People from outside the region came from California, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Maine.

On Saturday 40-50 people met at University Friends Meeting for the Regional Conference. We started the day with an excellent discussion about building alliances between our war tax resistance work and the broader movement for peace and justice. NACC people introduced the subject by talking about their multi-issue work; how it is firmly embedded in war tax resistance philosophy and practice, and financially based, in part, on refused tax money.

After lunch there were two sessions of three workshops each: Introduction to WTR; Living below a taxable income; and WTR counseling update, for the first session -- WTR and the media; Alternative investments for WTRs; and Children, partners, and WTR, for the second session. Everyone came together at the end of the afternoon for a reportback and brainstorm about future organizing. NWTRCC was thrilled when Northwesterners decided to seriously consider a bi-annual regional WTR conference.

On Saturday evening we had the choice of a protest against Nike Night at the King Dome, or a dinner with the regional gathering of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). Those of us who attended the dinner were treated to a talk by Jo Becker of the national FOR office on the work of International FOR.

We had a NWTRCC business meeting on Sunday morning, starting with a report from Susan Balzer of Hesston, KS who represented NWTRCC at the 6th International Conference on Peace Tax Campaigns and WTR in London, England last November. We discussed ways to support the grassroots tour of the documentary, An Act of Conscience, and to use showings for media work about WTR. Karen Marysdaughter asked for input on corporate WTR situations, ones involving employers, contractors, and/or financial institutions. We solicited volunteers to help with an update of the War Resisters League Guide on WTR.

Although it was difficult, we managed to select three new Administrative Committee members from among four excellent candidates - more on the new people in our next newsletter. We said glowing but sad farewells to outgoing Ad Comm members Susan Balzer and Clark Hanjian. For Karen Marysdaughter's bi-annual evaluation, Clark Hanjian compiled surveys from NWTRCC network members and presented a report. He also shared suggestions from the Ad Comm about an on-going procedure for Coordinator evaluations. In general, Karen's evaluation was extremely positive; the Coordinating Committee presented her with a framed commendation of her work after six years with NWTRCC, which touched her deeply and made her cry profusely!

The fall NWTRCC meeting will be in Philadelphia, PA, hopefully in conjunction with a conference about corporate WTR. We will join the Midwest WTR Conference in Newton, KS for our meeting next spring.

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Local Group Reports
LANSING, MI
The Ides of March brought Peace Tax Fund (PTF) founder David Bassett to Lansing to speak about conscientious objection to paying war taxes. At the invitation of local PTF Congressional District Contact Elise Harvey, a member of Michigan's Congressional delegation came to the presentation. When David did a reading from The Diary of Anne Frank, Congressperson Debbie Stabenow shared that she played the part of Anne Frank in a high school production of the book. A County Commissioner also attended the talk.

BOSTON, MA
New England War Tax Resistance (NE/WTR), the Boston area group, held their annual meeting at the end of March with the theme: "Building a bridge to the community with refused tax dollars." Four organizations which had received grants from NE/WTR during the past year were asked to speak about the work they do and how they used the refused tax money they were given. They were: the Eviction Free Zone, a coalition protecting tenants and their rights in Cambridge; the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) working to end sweatshops in El Salvador; Survivors Inc., a welfare rights organization informing low income people of their rights to benefits; and Tonantzin, educating people in the U.S. about the situation in Chiapas, Mexico.

GREENFIELD, MA
Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters (PVWTR) celebrated their 20th anniversary with an extravaganza and potluck supper on April 12th. The event featured a local musical duo, a gamesman doing brainteasers, and tax resistance stories from Aaron Falbel of Cambridge, MA and Daniel Sicken of Brattleboro, VT.

The group presented a history of PVWTR, with "drum" rolls from a wooden spoon on a cooking pot and cameo stage appearances by Tom Wilson and Wally Nelson in their traditional "Mutt and Jeff" routine. Tom recalled the time when he lost his dental license due to his war tax resistance, with slogans such as "Gums Not Guns" and "Fight Truth Decay." Other signs announcing the beginning of the group's alternative fund proclaimed, "Revenue Agent Dropout Fund," "April 15 Postal Overtime Relief Agency," and "Taxpaying Addiction: 12th Step Organization."

ASHEVILLE, NC
Taxes for Life! organized their third annual "Fools of Conscience" gathering in the Appalachian Bioregion, April 4-6. Nine newcomers joined them on Friday evening at the Asheville Friends Meeting for a potluck and dialogue on war tax resistance. Fifteen people stayed the weekend at the Celo community, the oldest land trust in the U.S., to strengthen connections and nourish community.

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Is This What We Are Afraid Of?
By Robert Randall

As we approach April 15 I thought I'd share a couple tidbits from some GAO (General Accounting Office) documents. These are free, and a good way to spend any tax money the feds may get from you against your will.

From "Taxpayer Compliance: Analyzing the Nature of the Income Tax Gap", I was surprised to see that there is actually a separate category for "taxes not remitted along with the filed return" -- the type of redirection I do. In 1982 this amount alone, from individuals, was $8.4 billion, or 6.5% of the total tax gap (amount owed but not collected) of $128.4 billion-about 1/2 of what the government puts out as military spending. For those of you who are nonfilers, your total share of the tax gap is 11.2%.

Of course, those of us who are in these categories as wtr's are a very small percentage of either group. When you compare the total uncollected tax amounts to the amounts we have estimated as redirected by wtr's, it's easy to see why war tax resistance is not seen as a major problem.

Where does the government think the most uncollected money lies? Nearly half of it, 45.6%, they believe is from unreported income on individual returns. These culprits are not wage earners, who, according to the IRS, report 99% of their income. The folk who get away with(out) murder are self-employed individuals who operate informally on a cash basis: IRS guesses they report only 19% of their income.

There might be a lifestyle lesson there for those of us not wanting to pay for war.

Of course, all these figures are highly suspect, because they come from the IRS. And I'm not the only one who says so. I'll close with this quote from Gregory M. Holloway, Director of GAO's Governmentwide Audits, Accounting and Information Management Division, in testimony presented Jan. 9, 1997, to the Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service:

"Our efforts to audit IRS accounting records have resulted in disclaimers of opinion each year. This means that we were unable to determine whether the amounts reported by IRS in its financial statements were right or wrong. ...If IRS had to prepare its own tax return, with the many problems we have found during our financial statement audits of IRS, it would not pass the scrutiny of an IRS audit."
You can give feedback about experiences with the IRS to the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS, via their Web page:
http://www.house.gov/natcommirs/main.htm
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Perspective
A CO Tax Credit? By Bill Galvin,
Board Chair for the
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund

I am writing in response to Robert Randall's proposal re: a CO tax credit (More Than a Paycheck, February 1997). I personally like the idea, and I've been told that in the early days of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF), before I was on the board, it was one of the ideas that was considered by the Campaign.

Robert concludes his article by saying that since tax credits are already embedded in tax law, Congress can't argue that this would be a relinquishing of its constitutional obligation to decide how tax moneys are spent. That is precisely the problem, because Congress does make that argument. That's been the main objection we've heard in Congress to the Peace Tax Fund bill; that Congress has the authority to determine how tax money will be spent, not individual taxpayers. Robert's tax credit proposal would give that authority more directly to individual taxpayers - and therefore it would be even less likely to get a favorable hearing in Congress. It might also be struck down in the courts as unconstitutional for this very reason.

The key supporters in Congress of the Peace Tax Fund bill keep asking the board of the NCPTF, "Are you serious about getting a bill passed, or do you want to put forth a bill that has absolutely no chance of passing, but will give you the opportunity to witness to your beliefs?" The response of the Campaign has always been the same. We want to pass a bill - but we're not interested in working to pass a meaningless bill. We want a bill that will provide relief for conscientious objectors to war taxes.

The Peace Tax Fund bill represents many years of hard work by some very dedicated individuals to get Congress to seriously address the crisis of conscience that is created by the tax laws of this militaristic country. Most of these folks are themselves war tax resisters. The most recent version of the bill represents what we believe is an effective bill that has a real chance of making it through Congress. I don't think the bill is perfect - I agree with some of the criticisms that have been raised in the war tax resistance community. However, we are engaged in a process with legislators who don't agree with us - but who are coming to recognize the oppression that current military and tax policies have created for people of conscience. We are making real progress, and we are getting support in some very unlikely circles.

The board of NCPTF remains open to dialogue and hearing new ideas, and we're open to honest and legitimate criticism of the PTF bill. For well over 50 years there has been a division within the CO community between those who take different approaches as they seek to live conscientiously in a militarized society. We are not going to resolve these differences in the foreseeable future. I have always felt that resistance to immoral laws goes hand in hand with working within the legal structure to change those laws. To some degree, our strength is in our diversity.

I would encourage everyone in the NWTRCC network to look at the current version of the PTF bill. You may be surprised at some of its features; for example, the broad definition of military expenditures that is designed to shed light on many of the hidden military costs that are buried in "non-military" government agencies.

I believe that although the PTF is not perfect, its passage is important for quite a few reasons. Just having a question on the tax forms about conscientious objection will do more to raise awareness about misplaced military spending of US tax money than we in the peace and justice community could possibly do - even if every peace group in the country agreed to cooperate and commit major resources to a public education campaign. And while it won't help everyone, no single proposal could - even the tax credit proposal doesn't completely solve the fungibility problem, it will provide relief for quite a few conscientious war tax resisters.

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About More than a Paycheck
More Than a Paycheck is a publication of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), 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 sees poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, economic exploitation, and environmental destruction 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.

Hard copy subscriptions to More Than a Paycheck (6 issues per year) are available for $10 per year. Editor: Karen Marysdaughter.

Past online issues: October 1996, December 1996, February 1997, April 1997

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