War Tax Resister Larry Bassett

The first of the annual tax season war tax resister profiles are starting to hit the news. here’s one from the News & Advance of Lynchburg, Virginia (excerpts):

[T]here’s Lynchburg resident Larry Bassett. Unlike the Tea Party crowd, he doesn’t mind paying taxes. He realizes that the government is actually us and that it needs our money to keep running.

He just doesn’t want any of his money to go to the military.

“I’ve felt that way ever since the Vietnam War,” he said. “That’s what made me a tax resister.”

It’s not so much the military itself that Bassett objects to. What bothers him is the late 20th-century and early 21st-century trend of fighting surrogate wars on behalf of foreign governments. He doesn’t like the fact that America has become, in effect, the world’s bouncer.

“I like the idea of the military going into places like Haiti after the earthquake to help out,” Bassett said. “I don’t like the idea of killing civilians in some other part of the world.”

So, on a number of occasions over the past four decades, the University of Michigan graduate has made a point of giving his fair share to organizations that he does support, instead of contributing to the general pot.

There is this general conviction, no doubt encouraged by the federal government, that if we don’t pay our taxes, an alarm will sound somewhere in the halls of the Internal Revenue Service on April 16 and a SWAT team will be dispatched to our doorstep.

“For whatever reason, that doesn’t happen,” Bassett said. “I was hauled into court in Brooklyn once, and the judge told me I should get a lawyer, but the whole thing wound up being dropped.”

One reason, perhaps, is that the IRS doesn’t like a lot of publicity. Another is that most tax resisters are far from millionaires, and the amount of money involved is too small to be worth a lot of bother.

“I’m prepared to go to jail,” said Bassett, “but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Bassett may be disobedient, but he’s at least timely. He’s already sent checks out to several of his favorite organizations, including the local Meals on Wheels and a national tax resister’s group.

“Meals on Wheels just sent me back the standard note thanking me for my contribution,” he said. “A lot of organizations don’t like to acknowledge contributions from tax resisters because they feel it might alienate some of their other contributors.

“But they’ve already cashed the check.”


From the St. Petersburg Times:

Finding Out Who “Really” Spends Your Tax Money

By Ernest B. Furgurson

Take Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguistics professor and antiwar apostle, and Robert D. Kephart, publisher of the right-wing tabloid Human Events, and get them to agree on something. What is it? Taxes are too high.

Chomsky and Kephart are merely two among the wildly mixed bag of econmists and others who have buried their differences on other issues to come together uttering a loud nonpartisan scream about taxes. They call this choir the National Taxpayers’ Union.

It began a year ago, organized by Wainwright Dawson Jr., otherwise known as chairman of the United Republicans of America. But Dawson, knowing the limitations of citizen agitation from a single ideological direction, recruited members (and supplemented his credibility) from all across the spectrum, especially from the crusaders against the military-industrial complex.

This was an auspicious year for that kind of broadening — a time when the traditional breeds of liberal and conservative were producing all kinds of hybrids and mutations. The NTU came to maturity just in time for the showdown on the legislative question that now stands as symbol and inspiration for taxpayers’ resistance, the funding of the SST.

James D. Davidson, the group’s executive director, lobbied quietly but intensively against the SST. Fiscal advisers at the Capitol gave him important credit for turning around Virginia’s Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr., a conservative hawk — and give Byrd in turn credit for influencing Georgia’s new Sen. David Gambrel and Alabama’s James Allen in the same direction. If those three votes had gone the other way, the SST would still be alive.

As this is written, Davidson is in New York trying to organize a legal brain trust for citizens who think they have been more than duly victimized by the IRS this early April.

Some of the mossbacks in Congress who assume they deserve consistent complements for what they call conservatism have swelled up near bursting over the NTU’s ratings, computed as “a guide to help the taxpayer determine which senators are most responsible for the growing burden of federal taxation.” Nothing the group has done better illustrates its nonpartisan, nontraditionally ideological approach.

For example, the retired John William, R-Del., fiscal watchdog of the Senate for many years, ranked first, which surprised no one. But tied for second were two otherwise liberal Democrats, William Proxmire, D-Wis., and George McGovern, D-S.D.,

At the very bottom with zero points for saving the taxpayers’ money on 17 test votes, were those ostensibly conservative Republicans from the wide-open spaces, Carl Mundt R-S.D., and Gordon Allot, R-Col.. Tied for second wors, from the NTU’s standpoint were two Democrats — Henry Jackson, D-Wash., and Clinton Anderson, D-N.M. — and another Republican, Milton R. Young, R-N.D..

Nor are the organization’s efforts confined to lobbying, defending and rating. They include grassroots organizing and acting as a come-one-come-all clearinghouse for tax resistance bulletins from around the country.

A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, who was fired from the Pentagon for publicly detailing the catastrophic cost overruns on aircraft production, is organizing his neighbors, in McLean, across the river in Virginia. This time his complaint is a 37.5 per cent local real-estate tax increase.

Fitzgerald’s project is described in the NTU newspaper, Dollars and Sense, along with activities of outfits like the Tax Rebellion Committee of Fresno, Calif., the Taxpayers’ Revolt Committee of Newcastle County, Del., the Minnesota Taxpayers’ Party, the New Jersey Libertarian Alliance and War Tax Resistance.

The ex-bureaucrat sums up the NTU philosophy when he describes his local tax squeeze: “I don’t know what they do with my money. I honestly can’t figure it out. If we stopped paying they couldn’t threaten to stop collecting the garbage, because they’re not collecting the garbage now.”

Sound familiar?

The National Taxpayers Union is still around, and still is nominally non-partisan, though it very much leans Republican. It continues to fight against military pork spending.

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