Erin Thompson has written up her impressions of ’s NWTRCC strategy conference. Excerpts:
“I intentionally lived on the edge of poverty to avoid paying for the war machine,” said Ruth Clark, a slightly hunched-over elderly woman wearing a pin on her pink lapel that read, “Ask me about Resisting War Taxes.”
A former missionary with the United Methodist Church, Clark was among 60 attendees at the National War Tax Resisters Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) strategy conference. The conference, held in Brooklyn’s St. Vincent Ferrer Church, sought to provide information and support to war tax resisters and to develop strategies on how to help war tax resistance gain political momentum and garner more supporters within the antiwar movement.…
Clark stopped filing tax returns in , but lived mostly below the taxable income level for years. Any extra income she did make, she put into a non-taxable Individual Retirement Account (IRA). When she recently liquidated her IRA and invested it in a project that makes small loans to third world women, her tax burden was raised significantly.
“I had the check in my hands for less than 24 hours, but it made my income for that year higher than it had ever been,” she said. She filed a return for that year and withheld 47 cents of every dollar she owed — a penny, she said, for every percentage point devoted to military spending. It was then that the IRS began sending her threatening letters. Eventually, the government put a lien on her savings and checking accounts and drained the balances. The IRS is now threatening to take part of her Social Security. Well into retirement age, Clark’s only income comes from Social Security and her pension from the United Methodist Church.
Although Clark initially considered her war tax resistance a moral act, and not a political one, her recent experiences motivated her to share her resistance. She hopes that “by my sharing, someone else is strengthened to say I’ll do it. I won’t pay for war.”