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Ruth Benn, Coordinator
Anti-war Tax Day Protests and War Tax Resistance
WASHINGTON - April 13 - On April 15 thousands of people across the United States will be refusing to pay some of their federal income tax as a protest to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many will join local actions around the country to protest high Pentagon spending while social programs suffer.
“When the invasion of Iraq began, I stopped paying federal income tax and started working for my values instead of against them,” says David Gross from California.
In New York City, Lily Dalke says, “A lot of people are against having our troops [in Iraq an Afghanistan] or continuing the occupation but there’s not a sense of what you can do about it.” For her, refusing to pay made sense.
Lily and David are two of the thousands of people who do not want their money paying for war. They both fill out their tax forms and send them to the IRS, but when money is owed to the government they refuse to pay. Both continue to refuse today because of the ongoing U.S. military presence in Iraq, because of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is taking countless civilian lives, and because of the increasing military budget.
Lily and David don’t know each other. They live on opposite sides of the country, but they are representative of people throughout the U.S. whose conscience led them to this daily act of civil disobedience. They will also take their protest to the street in their communities on tax day, along with thousands of others across the country.
Thursday, April 15, is the final day to file taxes for millions, but for many it is also a time to protest the use of half their income tax dollars for weapons and wars, past and present. They will be handing out informational flyers at post offices to last minute filers, holding “penny polls” to gauge how the public wants tax dollars spent, showing the new film Death and Taxes, or sitting in at Congressional offices.
A list of actions is online at http://www.nwtrcc.org/
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, based in Brooklyn, New York, publicizes antiwar, tax day protests and helps support individuals who choose to resist war taxes — despite the risks of forced collection by the IRS. Individual income taxes provide the bulk of the government funds that are used for war, so most war tax resisters refuse to pay some or all of their federal income taxes and often redirect the amount of money resisted to social service or humanitarian groups in the U.S. and abroad. Some choose to keep their income low so as not to owe federal taxes.
Some individuals have refused to pay for war for years. Ed Hedemann, who began his refusal during the Vietnam war, says, “They tried to draft me during the Vietnam War and I refused, then they wanted to draft my taxes and I refused, because I don’t see the difference between doing the killing myself or paying for someone else to kill.” The government makes no allowance for people who cannot in good conscience pay for war. The anger about the use of U.S. tax dollars is twofold: anger at the trillions spent on war and weapons of war while at the same time millions of people around the world go hungry, live with no shelter or clean water, or have no school supplies or health care.
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), founded in 1982, is a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war. NWTRCC produced the new film "Death and Taxes" in 2010, which gives an overview of war tax resistance, and initiated the War Tax Boycott, which includes a list of public war tax refusers at wartaxboycott.org.