Action Reports and Redirection
Tax Day 2009

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San Francisco, CA

Northern California War Tax Resistance and members from the local Friends meeting vigil and leaflet on April 14 in front of the Herbst Theater where Amy Goodman was speaking on “Standing Up to the Madness.” Photos by David Gross

New York, NY

The Manhattan office of the IRS and the General Post Office were linked on April 15 by a protest march. Late in the afternoon as demonstrators from the War Resisters League and NWTRCC leafletted and vigiled in front the IRS, the NYC People’s Life Fund held a ceremony of resisted tax dollars being given $1000 each to four groups. This was followed by a half hour march — led by the War Tax Boycott banner and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra — through midtown Manhattan during evening rush hour, past the Times Square recruiting station, to the General Post Office to join other members of the WRL, Grannies for Peace, among other protest groups that included 40 to 50 people. Photos by Ed Hedemann.

Ceremony in front of the IRS where war tax dollars are being redirected to four community groups. Marching past Times Square recruiting station from the IRS to the GPO.
The Rude Mechanical Orchestra in front of the GPO with the War Resisters League and others on the steps. On the steps of the GPO.
Lily and Ruth leafletting in front of the GPO.

Boston, MA

New England War Tax Resistance presented grants from redirected tax dollars to three Peace and Justice groups outside the South Postal Annex near South Station in Boston on April 15. Photos by Craig Simpson.

Colorado Springs, CO

Esther Kisamore, Mary Sprunger-Froese and Mary Lynn Sheetz greeting passers-by at the post office in Colorado Springs on April 15. Photos by Donna Johnson.

Bill Sulzman Pat Huhn

Austin, TX

Members of Code Pink and Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation — Andy, Fran, Mark, Susan, Marilyn, Jeff, Patty, and others — greeted tax day filers with signs and leaflets at the post office on April 15. Photos thanks to Susan Van Haitsma.

Princeton, NJ

The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) announced the results of its “Penny Poll” of how taxpayers mailing their federal tax returns, the filing deadline, would like to see their tax dollars spent. The Penny Poll was conducted from 12:30–1:30 p.m. on April 15 in front of the Palmer Square Post Office in downtown Princeton. As people approached the Post Office, they were invited to express their opinion on how they would like their federal tax dollar to be spent. Each of the 59 participants were given ten pennies and asked to distribute them between 5 tubes representing categories of federal spending: education, environment, health care, housing, and military. The results are below.

Category# of PenniesPercent
Health Care16828

Participants were then handed a fact sheet showing that 54% of the “Federal Funds Budget” for FY 2009 is for current and past military spending. The Federal Funds Budget is what Congress can allocate from federal income taxes as it chooses, as distinct from trust funds like Social Security and Medicare, which are funded by separate designated taxes. The fact sheet also showed that relatively small amounts go for education (4%), housing (2%), and health care (20%) — in contradiction to what most expressed as their spending priorities. “This year’s results remain consistent with results from over many years. Each poll has consistently shown that taxpayers want more of their hard-earned tax dollars going to education, environment, and health care, and far less to military purposes. Total military spending for FY 2009, including the Iraq War, is about $965 billion ($7,720 per taxpaying household), the highest level since World War II,” said the Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of CFPA.

Tuscon, AZ

The “3rd-Thursday” vigil at Raytheon Missile Systems factory in Tucson had a special focus for tax day. Photos by Felice Cohen-Joppa.

Washington, DC

Bob Auerbach

Bob Auerbach, a war tax resister since World War II, in front of IRS headquarters on a rainy tax day in DC. Photo by Carol Moore.

New Hampshire

Here are the results from Henniker and Concord (1252 votes cast):

Health Care22%
GreenJobs/Climate Change14%
Military spending12%
Veterans Benefits/Services11%
Non-military Foreign Aid5%

The state house was populated by right-wing tea baggers and SEUI folks so it’s definitely not definitive (!). A few tea baggers put all their pennies in military spending.

Here are the numbers from the Seacoast Peace Response “penny poll” done from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. in front of the Portsmouth Post Office. There were 1384 votes cast:

Health Care18%
Energy Independence14%
Environmental Protection13.5%
Veterans benefits7.5%
Deficit Reduction6%
Agriculture/food safety5.5%
Job Training5%
Afghan/Iraq wars3%
Homeland Security3%
Nuclear weapons0.5%

There were some British and Welsh voters and a couple Russians. Some people said it made no difference and they were totally disgusted. Many, before looking responded they wanted the money in their pocket.

New Hampshire Peace Action,

Asheville, NC

Asheville war tax resisters, with banner made by designer and activist Coleman Smith, headed to the town center to leaflet and vigil. They found themselves swept up with the conservative “tea party” crowd. Read more about the day on the War Resisters League Asheville blog at Photos courtesy of Clare Hanrahan.

Royal Oak, MI

Huntington Woods Peace Group, Women in Black, and others were in front of the Royal Oak Post Office, a spot which becomes a circus every year with free McDonald’s snacks and a local rock radio caravan blasting its tunes. The traffic managers were there to move along the last-minute 1040 filers, who dropped their tax returns out of their car windows into huge receptacles. There were 40 of us peace demonstrators there, however, to help counteract some of the commercialism and, more important, to get across our message of how their tax dollars were actually going to be spent by this militaristic government. — Suzanne Antisdel

Photos by Jon Pickell, Huntington Woods, MI, who reports, “it’s interesting to note that the news crews were actually present to film only the people coming to mail their tax returns, and deliberately did not film any of the protesters — and it wasn’t even ‘Fair & Balanced’ Fox news!”

Other Vigils

South Bend, Indiana — Seven war tax refusers did the annual vigil at the main Post Office in shifts from 6–11 p.m. We handed out about 300 of the WRL and War tax boycott flyer/palm card. A few people refused the flyer, but most took it in good humor. E-filing continues to result in fewer and fewer “drive-by mailers.” Depression from the Bush years and the feeling that “Obama will do it” has caused our numbers to dwindle.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Six activists from Milwaukee War Tax Resistance passed out literature and held signs at the main post office. Overall, they received a very positive response from people visiting the post office.

St. Louis, Missouri — About 20 people attended the vigil and distribution of flyers. They marched to their local senator’s office and a 25 minute meeting with Sen Claire McCaskill office. Bill Ramsey turned in a copy of his IRS letter to her. It was a cold and windy day so there were not as many people as usual out on the streets in the shopping and restaurant district where we walk with flyers.

Rochester, New York On the evening of April 15, three activists were handing out literature and holding signs protesting war spending in front of the IRS building on East Ave. in Downtown Rochester. One of the demonstrators climbed a tree and held a sign that read “Cut War Spending.” She was pepper-sprayed and arrested.

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