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

June 1997

[Alternative Funds Redirect Over $75,000 in 1997!]
[RFRA Still a Possibility for WTR's?$]
[
Counseling Notes]
[International News]
[Legislative Report]
[A Juror of Conscience]
[Resources]
[And Still More Tax Day Actions!]
[WTR Ideas and Actions]
[A Day Without the Pentagon]
[NWTRCC Business]
[Fall NWTRCC Meeting Will Focus on Corporate WTR]
[Local Group Reports]
[Colrain Film Premieres in Northamton, MA]
[Perspective]
[About More than A Paycheck]

Alternative Funds Redirect Over $75,000 in 1997!
Thirty-five alternative funds in the U.S. received survey forms this year from NWTRCC. Thirty-three funds reported a total of $78,380.10 redirected tax dollars! This is up from $45,000 in 1996, although $10,000 of the increase was simply due to a change in the reporting process. The amount in escrow as of April 15, 1997 was $771,132.55. The number of depositors this year was 721.

Here are the causes alternative funds supported this year, based on dividing up the redirected tax dollars into certain categories. The categories are somewhat arbitrary because many grants might easily fall into more than one.

Children/Youth - $6,055Economic Justice - $2,200
Education -$5,150Environment - $4,100
Food - $5,200Health - $7,190
Housing - $8,320Human rights - $3,120
International - $9,225Justice/Prisons - $4,940
Peace & Justice - $16,860     Racism - 2,150

Of the total granted to peace and justice groups, support for war tax resistance organizing accounted for $3,560.

The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, which reimburses WTRs for penalties and interest that have been seized by the IRS, reported that about $6,700 was raised to cover all or part of the requests from five war tax resisters in the last year. Two appeals were sent out during that time, with a total request of $25.14 for the year from each fund member. The Penalty Fund currently has 262 active members on its list.

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RFRA Still a Possibility for WTR's??
On June 25, 1997, the Supreme Court issued a decision in CITY OF BOERNE v. FLORES, ARCHBISHOP OF SAN ANTONIO, a case based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). The case involved a dispute over a church building permit in an historic preservation district in Boerne, Texas. The District Court held that Congress, by enacting RFRA, exceeded the scope of its enforcement power under the Fourteenth Amendment, but the Fifth Circuit reversed that decision, finding RFRA to be constitutional. On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the District Court decision that RFRA exceeds Congress' power.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice O'Conner gave a discourse on the meaning of "free exercise" and specifically discussed governmental accommodations for pacifists in regards to military conscription.

Does this invalidate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? For Priscilla Adams, a war tax resister preparing to go to Tax Court with arguments based on RFRA, this is an important question. The media coverage certainly makes it sound as if RFRA is completely overturned. However, Priscilla's lawyers believe this decision refers specifically to the relationship between federal law and state law, whereas her tax case is based solely on federal law.

Meanwhile, Priscilla's case has been scheduled for October 14th in U.S. Tax Court. We are trying to identify any IRS official, the higher up the better, who would be willing to testify that a Peace Tax Fund type of accomodation within the IRS is feasible. If any of you have such a contact, please let NWTRCC or Priscilla know.

Priscilla also welcomes letters of support, to her, to Congress, to the IRS, etc. Please send copies of letters to her: Priscilla Adams, 96 Pageant Lane, Willingboro, NJ, 08046, 609/835-4285, email: peacepc@aol.com.

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Counseling Notes
IRA Seizures
The IRS has a policy of not seizing IRA's or pension funds, but the statutes do not prevent it. Generally they only seize such funds if they have tried many other options over a long period and if they have the permission of the district director. However, NWTRCC has learned of a recent case where a WTR's IRA was seized as part of an Automated Collection System (ACS) levy process. We are trying to find out if the IRS policy has changed or if it was a mistake on the part of the ACS. If anyone else has a relevant experience, please let us know.
Mistaken House Seizure
Yes, the IRS does make mistakes. A family in Iowa recently had their combined home and business seized by the IRS, despite the fact that they had enough money to cover the levy in a bank account. The IRS had seized bank account money from them before, so we thought maybe they were frustrated and trying to teach the WTR a lesson. No, they didn't know about the account, probably because it was not interest bearing. Once the family let them know of the account, the IRS released the levy on their home (and, we assume, seized the bank account).

IRS Summonses
NWTRCC has heard of a couple other WTRs who have received recent summonses from the IRS. One, in Vermont, decided not to appear and wrote to his IRS agent explaining why. The agent called back and asked where he was keeping his money in escrow so she could seize it! He said he didn't feel like telling her - she said that's what she expected. His case has been "referred to Boston."

Life Insurance
NWTRCC was recently asked about seizures of life insurance policies. As with IRA's and pension funds, the IRS does not usually seize the cash value of a policy, although they have the statutory right to do so. They cannot, however, seize the proceeds, which belong to the beneficiary. We haven't heard of any cases in recent years, although we received a report from a WTR regarding his case about 10 years ago. He thought he didn't have any assets in his name, but his parents set up a life insurance policy in his name when he was born. Despite the fact that the IRS is supposed to notify the insurer of a levy, he didn't know of it until months later when the life insurance company billed him for interest on the outstanding loan against his policy. Since then he has each year withdrawn the additional accrued cash value himself, as a loan, to prevent it from being seized. NWTRCC note: If the life insurance company knows of an existing lien against an insurer, and if they loan out the cash value of a policy to the insurer anyway, the IRS can still seize the amount of the cash value from the company, leaving the company to attempt to get the money back from the insurer.

IRS Downsizing The IRS continues its efforts to downsize, centralize, and consolidate its workforce. Senior management believes this will make them more efficient in the long run; however, they acknowledge that in the short run there could be problems with less experienced field personnel in compliance functions. How this might impact WTRs remains to be seen. It appears to have had a negative effect on morale at the IRS.

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International News
Society of Ushers
Our
February issue reported on an international effort called the Society of Ushers, dedicated to seeking arrangements with various nation states to allow individuals to live equitably, without contributing to war. Richard Duffee, the founder, is now living in Nepal with a new address: c/o American Express, Hotel Mayalu, Jamal Tole at Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal, email: zellduff@usher.wlink.com.np.
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Legislative Report
Ways & Means Committee Rejects PTF Amendment to Tax Bill
Thursday, June 12, on a voice vote,the House Ways and Means Committee rejected Peace Tax Fund language offered by Rep. John Lewis (GA) as an amendment to a tax reconciliation bill, despite some good organizing on short notice by the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF). NCPTF lobbyists met with aides of 29 of the 39 members of the Committee and presented a letter signed by fourteen religious and peace organizations to all the Ways and Means members. Signers included the Baptist Joint Committee for Public Affairs, Church Women United, the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, and the United Church of Christ - Office for Church in Society.

Deliberations started well, according to an NCPTF representative who was present for the vote. Rep. Lewis introduced the amendment with a powerful statement on behalf of taxpayers whose just claim to freedom of conscience has been denied. The committee then heard from an official from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who reported that the Peace Tax Fund would raise revenue for the Treasury.

However, the Joint Tax Committee official went on to express concerns with "problems of proliferation," and a representative from the Clinton administration also testified in opposition to the amendment.

Rep. Lewis responded by scolding the administration for repeatedly refusing to work with him on developing a proposal that met their concerns. However, the damage was done; when Chairman Bill Archer (R- TX) called for a vote, the amendment was strongly defeated.

Campaign Executive Director, Marian Franz said it was a difficult night. "Supporters can be pleased that the increase legitimacy of our cause produced this first-ever vote," said Ms. Franz. "However the outcome shows we still have much work to do."

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A Juror of Conscience
Excerpts from an article by Chance Conner & George Lane of the Denver Post April 14, 1997

On the day before taxes are due, a self-proclaimed pacifist questioned Monday as a prospective juror in the Oklahoma City bombing case said she and her husband have refused to pay income taxes and have battled the Internal Revenue Service for years. The woman, Juror 404, was one of the first prospective jurors to be questioned as the process entered its third week in the trial of bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh. She said she stopped paying taxes because she opposes U.S. defense spending and the Contra war in Nicaragua.

"We've always been up front with the IRS," she told U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch. "My husband has written them many letters. They currently are garnishing his wages." The woman also is a fervent opponent of capital punishment, saying she could not consider the death penalty if McVeigh is convicted "under any circumstances." Prosecutors, who are trying to assemble prospective jurors who are able to vote for a death sanction if need be, didn't even bother questioning the woman. In spite of her beliefs, Matsch did not excuse her from the jury pool.

Stephen Jones, lead counsel for McVeigh, only interviewed the woman for a moment, asking her again about her views on capital punishment.

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Resources
New from NWTRCC
In the process of updating our WTR overview, the Quick Reference booklet, we decided to break it into two separate pamphlets. We now have "War Tax Resistance at a Glance: Concise Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" which covers the basic reasons for WTR and its methods and consequences. It has a thorough resources section, including information available on-line. The second pamphlet, "War Tax Resistance and the Internal Revenue Service," is a detailed outline of IRS practice and procedure as it relates to war tax resistance. "WTR at a Glance" is available for 50" and "WTR and the IRS" for $1 from NWTRCC.

For Libraries
NWTRCC has a few hardbound copies of the current War Resisters League Guide on WTR which are available to donate, first come, first served, to libraries. If you have a library you would like to donate a copy to, contact the office.

Alternative Investments
At the Seattle Coordinating Committee meeting in May, Carolyn Stevens presented a workshop on the topic of Alternative Investments. One of the attenders, Bruce Triggs of the Tacoma (WA) Catholic Worker, offered these references for those who want to explore the issue in more depth. Investing in the Common Good by Susan Meeker-Lowry,
New Society Publishers, 1(800)333-9093; "Who is My Neighbor? Economics as if Values Mattered" from Sojourners Magazine, 1(800)714-7474; More Than Money magazine from The Impact Project has a "Money Between Friends" issue, (541)343-2420, email: impact@efn.org; Dollars and Sense magazine, (617)628-8411, email: dollars@igc.apc.org; Financial Planning Handbook from Co-op America, (202)872-5307.

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And Still More Tax Day Actions!
HACKENSACK, NJ
Members of the
Root and Branch Collective greeted Tax Day with an all-night vigil from 6pm on April 14th to 12 noon on the 15th, at which point they joined members of New Jersey Peace Action to leaflet at the Hackensack post office and brandish signs reading, "Feed the People, Not the Pentagon." At 4pm they began their second annual funeral procession mourning the results of militarism. With a coffin they marched to the Hackensack courthouse and made speeches, then to the local military recruitment center where they first chanted, then entered the office and dialogued with recruiters.

In the evening the group held a potluck supper and listened to Quaker Jeremy Mott talk about the Chicago draft resistance movement and his time in prison. Afterwards they awarded the first grants from their new alternative fund, the Tolstoy Fund, to the American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, and a homeless outreach project.

SPOKANE, WA
The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) conducted their annual penny poll on Tax Day with 345 participants. Results were similar to past polls, with education coming out on top at 23%, followed by health care, the environment, job training, and housing. Current military came in at 7% and military debt at 3%.

Pollsters noted that Spokane is an Air Force town and that most of the military votes came in big chunks, five or even ten pennies at once, while other voters began their selections by saying, "not the military" or "the military doesn't need it." PJALS had a total of seven people staffing the polls over several hours. One TV station and the public radio station covered their efforts.

DENVER, CO
WTRs gathered at the Denver post office late at night to leaflet last minute tax filers, rubbing elbows with Colorado Republicans crusading for a flat tax. The group decided to do something for fun, so they dressed Byron Plumley up as a pig to represent military pork and went out for beer afterwards.

SOUTH BEND, IN
About twenty activists held signs and leafleted at the post office mail drop from 6pm to midnight on April 15th. They passed out more than 3000 of the pie charts, but were ignored by TV cameras. In fact, WTR Peter Smith heard one newscaster tell a camera operator to stop filming them! They did get a great letter to the editor from someone happy to see them out on April 15th, encouraging her to write Congress to protest how her tax money is spent.

LOUISVILLE, KY
The weather was glorious this year, compared to the torrential rains the group coped with in 1996. They organized a "Tax Day Speak Out" in front of the Social Security and Immigration offices. Speakers from various peace and justice organizations expressed eloquently their dissatisfaction with how our tax dollars are spent, focusing on the suffering resulting from budget cuts.

A representative of General George Lee Butler, former Commander-in- Chief of the U.S. Strategic Air Command now urging the elimination of all nuclear weapons, appeared and delivered a message from Butler about the dangers of nuclear weapons and the need to rid the world of them. In response to popular demand, the grand finale featured "Uncle Sam" and "Ms. Liberty" in their 90s version of Green Eggs and Ham.

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WTR Ideas and Actions
Death Penalty Resistance
A WTR in Ithaca, NY has approached New York state with a plan similar to one that WTR Dave Nuttall has worked out with the state of Delaware. Dave has been allowed to pay his Delaware taxes directly into the account for refunds to taxpayers rather than into the general fund, as a way to avoid paying for the death penalty, In New York, tax officials are considering WTR David Elliott's request and have told him he need do nothing (which apparently includes paying his state taxes!) in the meantime. For more information, contact David Nuttall, Box 971, Wilmington, DE, 19899-0971, (302)654-3068, or David Elliott, 51 N. Vandorn Rd., Ithaca, NY, 14850, (607)277-2618.

Campus Phone Tax Resistance
Sam Diener of the
Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), director of the Military Out of Our Schools program, recently recommended telephone tax resistance as a great campaign for campus activists. He says, "If a campus peace group convinced 100 students to resist the tax, and each one resisted an average of $1 a month, this would generate $100 a month from the campus group that could be pooled and donated to local battered women's shelters, civil rights groups, homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, or any of a variety of peace and social justice groups." Anyone interested, contact Sam c/o CCCO, 655 Sutter St., #514, San Francisco, CA, 94102, (415)474-3002.

Tax Bill Reductions
John Hammar of Mt. Airy, NC, a NWTRCC contact person and tax preparer, wants to reduce the amount of money collected by the government from anyone and everyone. He has embarked on a personal campaign of tax reduction by helping his friends and neighbors with their tax returns without regard to their political persuasions.

John says, "If every resister just had one or two times (the amount of) their own taxes kept away (from the government) by helping others cut their tax bills, our efforts would then become a factor in the national budget." Another strategy of his is to convince people that through their withholding they have been loaning the government money at no interest. He seeks to help people reduce their withholding to no more than what is necessary to avoid penalties. "(Reduced withholding) would cut revenues right away, and combined with larger refunds for 1996 would have an impact."

For more information, contact John Hammar, 212 Old McKinney Rd., Mt. Airy, NC, 27030, (910)789-9599.

War Tax Resistance as a Human Right
Ed Martiszus has filed a "Human Rights Reporting Form" with the Metropolitan Human Rights Commission in Portland, OR regarding the forced seizure of his wages to pay for nuclear war. His report, along with others, will be compiled by the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute and sent to the U. N. Committee on Human Rights. For more information contact Ed at 53215 Timber Rd., Vernonia, OR, 97064.

War Tax Freedom Day
Each year the Tax Foundation publishes a date known as "Tax Freedom Day." In 1997, if a person's whole paycheck, beginning January 1st, went initially to cover their annual tax liability, they would have to work until May 9 to pay off federal, state, and local taxes. In 1996 Tax Freedom Day was figured at May 7th. Jack Fitch of Civilian Congress in San Francisco suggests that WTR protests organized as "War Tax Freedom Days" on the above dates might be effective events.

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A Day Without the Pentagon
The
War Resisters League (WRL), one of NWTRCC's founding groups, is calling for a national day of action on October 24, 1997 to protest the ways in which the Pentagon manipulates, distorts, and destroys our youth, economy, and culture.

Local people are asked to identify symbols of the Pentagon in their communities and use them to organize against military spending. Suggestions: picket a military base, recruiting station, military contractor or federal building; rally in support of an institution, such as a school, library or day care center, that would benefit if the Pentagon did not consume our resources; organize a gun turn-in; hold a forum about ROTC in a local school, etc.

One year later, on October 19, 1998, WRL will organize an action at the Pentagon itself in an effort to nonviolently halt the business of war. The action will serve as the culmination of WRL's 75th Anniversary Conference.

For more information and an organizer's kit, contact Chris Ney, WRL, 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY, 10012; (212)228-0450; email: wrl@igc.apc.org.

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NWTRCC Business
Welcome to New Administrative Committee Members
NWTRCC gives warm thanks to retiring Administrative Committee members Clark Hanjian of Martha's Vineyard, MA, Susan Balzer of Hesston, KS, and Alan Gamble of Mt. Pleasant, MI. We are delighted to welcome three new members to the Administrative Committee

Nancy Rice of Albuquerque, NM began her war tax resistance 1970 and in 1982 stopped filing returns. She and her husband Max lived in intentional Christian communities with their two children, now 20 and 23, for a total of 14 years. The family achieved some notoriety in 1989 when Max was jailed for 40 days for refusing to give the IRS information. Nancy has served on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and worked with Project Elf in Wisconsin. She is ordained as a Methodist minister, although she is now pursuing work as a writer.

Dan Sicken of Brattleboro, VT is a former member of the military who began war tax resistance in the early 1980's. He helped to start the WTR group in Brattleboro which was active in the Colrain house occupation, and has organized annual tax day grant giveaways for a number of years. In addition to his WTR activities, he has participated in Plowshares and other civil disobedience actions at military bases and weapons plants, actions arising from his understanding of the Gospels and the lives of King, Gandhi, the Berrigans, the Nelsons,and many others. He's been arrested many times and has spent up to 2 1/2 months in jail. Dan is a non-filer, self -employed doing repair and carpentry work, and living with a 92-year -old man while bartering house care for rent.

Pete Meyers of South Bend, IN began war tax resistance in the late 1980's and was confirmed in his decision by the Gulf War, his work as a drug counselor in a New York City high school, and a trip to Nicaragua. He has been active in efforts to end to the Contra War, participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations, and travelled twice to Haiti. In 1995 he ran unsuccessfully for the South Bend City Council. Pete currently chairs his local Green Party and is on the board of the South Bend Urban League.

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Fall NWTRCC Meeting Will Focus on Corporate WTR
The Coordinating Committee will meet November 7-9, 1997 at the Moorestown (NJ) Friends Meeting just outside of Philadelphia. Our focus for the Saturday program will be primarily on corporate WTR - employers, contractors, and financial institutions. We'll explore how we live our economic lives as WTRs in light of IRS pressure on institutions to play a major role in tax collection and reporting. Employers and contractors, as well as WTRs, are invited to attend. Registration forms will be available in September; for more information, contact the NWTRCC office.
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Local Group Reports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN
For the last two years the Minnesota Military Tax Resistance Network has had a presence in the Minneapolis May Day Parade. Nine people marched in the parade carrying signs and the new M-Tax banner and passing out flyers. As part of Friends for a Nonviolent World, they also had a large, attractive booth which was visited by many people.

MT. PLEASANT, MI
Alan Gamble of the Community of Conscience worked with the local Plowshares Peace Center to create a display for an Earth Day event on the federal budget and income taxes. Passers-by were encouraged to take strips from one side of the display, representing differing percentages and dollar amounts of the budget, and see if they could figure out where their tax money goes by matching them up with spending categories on the other side of the display. The booth won 1st place!

NEW ENGLAND REGION
"The Well-Rounded Resister" is the theme of the annual New England Regional WTR Gathering, October 17-19, 1997 in Arundel, Maine. The group will discuss topics such as the myths of the money system, how we can support each other, making WTR a family experience, and talking to non-resisters about WTR. For registration information, contact: Steve Soucy, PO Box 5510, Ellsworth, ME, 04605, (207)469-1143.

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Colrain Film Premieres in Northampton, MA
By Rosie Heidkamp, Pioneer Valley WTR
An Act of Conscience, the documentary film about Randy Kehler, Betsy Corner, and the Colrain house seizure action, had its theatrical World Premiere before a packed house at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA on Sunday, May 4th.

The event was a benefit for the film itself. Tickets were $20 for the general public and $10 for Colrain action affinity group members, many of whom were present.

Local WTR Andrea Ayvazian gave opening remarks, then introduced film director Robbie Leppzer to thunderous applause. Robbie said the 90 minute film was edited from 90 hours of videotape. The final version is narrated by Martin Sheen, who donated his time to the project.

After the film Robbie received a standing ovation! Betsy Corner, Randy Kehler, Mary Link, and Bob Bady joined him for questions and discussion with the audience, which lasted over 45 minutes. Most of the audience stayed for the discussion, and seemed reluctant to leave. It was clear from the comments that many people felt moved by the power and possibility of community, exemplified by the film and an individual act of conscience.

The National Priorities Project, Traprock Peace Center, and Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance used the event as an opportunity to share their literature at tables in the lobby.

The following week the film played daily at the nearby Pleasant Street Theater to full houses. Due to enthusiastic audience response it was held over for two additional weeks. Robbie was on hand for most showings to lead audience discussions.

The film will be going on tour this fall to communities across the U.S. To arrange a showing in your area, contact Turning Tide Productions at (508)544-8313, or NWTRCC at 1(800)269-7464.

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Perspective
Our Taxes Pay for the School of the Americas
Excerpts from a letter by Rosa Capella Hodgson

"To my sisters and brothers of the Methodist Federation for Social Action -

I live in Nicaragua where I work as director of International Relations, on a volunteer basis, for the Nicaraguan Protestant University, Martin Luther King, Jr. I have been reading in your newsletter about the resolution to close the School of the Americas (SOA), better known as the School of Assassins. But I think that we are totally missing the issue here.

To have a resolution for the closing of the SOA approved by the conference as a body, to be sent to the State Department, to Congress and the Senate, will show that we, the Methodists of New England, disagree with the policy that charactierizes the SOA and therefore we want it closed. The government bodies mentioned above will take this at face value. For how can we repudiate the actions and the existence of the SOA and at the same time pay to have it open by funding it with OUR TAXES?

I live day in and day out in Nicaragua, I live through the pain of "my people" on whom our government imposed an embargo, mined their ports, and finally declared a Contra War. Do you believe for a minute that Ronald Reagan sold his California ranch to fund the war? You know well that was not the case; we went to Washington to protest and even to be arrested for a short while. We knew that in paying the fine we would be going home, and even become the heroes. But, my sisters and brothers, the Nicaraguans continued to be killed and slaughtered, their coffee cooperatives destroyed, and the money that would have gone to rebuild the country had to go to war; the young boys who should have been in school were pulled out to the borders to fight. And we did not find the connection between our taxes and the crimes committed by "anticommunist Reagan." We blamed it all on him!

We cannot have it both ways, dear sisters and brothers. We just cannot continue to keep "our privileges" while we sacrifice thousands of people in the world. It is as simple as that.

Why not take this opportunity, when you are passing this good resolution about the SOA, to reflect on what our taxes have contributed to in the past and to come to terms with OUR CONSCIENCE? Why not at least look at alternatives to follow in a future that will not continue to be so harmful to humanity and to redirect the product of our work in a more Christian and humanistic way?"

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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, June 1997

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