If you’re planning to sign on to the
Boycott, or even if you’re thinking about it but aren’t sure yet — now’s
the time to start preparing.
You can’t just wait until rolls around and then make up your mind.
Here’s why: most people who file their federal income tax returns in April are
due to get a refund. If you’ve overpaid during the year and the government
owes you money, you can’t very well resist, can you?
The key is to adjust your withholding today. This way the government
takes less money from your paychecks now, so that you’ll owe something in
April — then you’ll be able to decide whether or not you want to resist.
Adjusting your withholding is easy. Most people can adjust their withholding
by filing a new W-4 form with their employer. You
probably filled out one of these forms as one of the first things you did when
you got hired. People file new W-4 forms all the
time — for instance when they get married, have children, begin to support
their elderly parents, or for any number of other reasons.
The key to having less withheld from your paycheck is to declare more
“allowances” on your W-4 (some people call these
“dependents” or “exemptions,” but that isn’t really accurate).
NWTRCC has a good
guide on how to do this correctly. The more allowances you declare, the
less money gets taken out of your paycheck each month and sent to Washington.
If you’re not employed by someone else, the process is different. If you’re
self-employed, you are responsible for paying your own taxes quarterly, and
resisting is as easy as reducing the amount you pay or stopping entirely. If
you receive a pension or annuity and have income tax withheld from it, you
change your withholding by filing a new
form W-4P, which works pretty much the same way as the regular
But the important thing is: do it now! There are only a few more pay
periods left in the year, and if your withholding is too high, you’re
out-of-luck. Not only will you be unable to resist when you file your return
in , but when the government finally
writes you a refund check for all that extra money it took from you during the
year, it won’t add any interest, and you’ll feel like a sucker.
Here’s an interesting hint of early pacifist tax resistance, from an article
in the New York Sun in :
ENGLISH FOLLOWERS OF TOLSTOI IN A RATHER BARREN UTOPIA
A Little Colony Trying to Carry Out the Principles of the Russian
Philosopher at Whiteway, in the Cotswold Hills
LONDON, . — Up on the highest point of the Cotswold Hills in Glocestershire is a little
colony of practical followers of Count Tolstoi, people who believe that it
is wrong to live in any way by the labor of others. Unable to carry their
faith into practise in the outside world, they have settled in this remote
corner of England to extract their living from an inhospitable soil by the
labor of their own hands.
One must not suppose, however, that this is a colony of wild eyed anarchists
or dangerous enemies of government. It is true that they objected at first to
paying taxes to a government which they declared gave them nothing in return,
and one or two men actually carried their passive resistance to the extent of
going to jail for their principles, but even the country people round about
to-day are forced to admit that they are good neighbors, pay their debts and
bother no one — this in spite of the active opposition of squire and parson,
who regard them as dangerous enemies of Church and State.
The article goes on from there to discuss this colony of about a dozen
families, called “Whiteway,” which was established on land that was given “to
a set of trustees headed by
Aylmer Maude, the well
known English disciple of Tolstoi, by a farmer of the neighborhood who had
become a convert to the theories of the Russian philosopher.”
This land was held in common via this board of trustees, “but any one who is
willing to work on it and live in harmony with the colonists is welcome to
settle on an acre and cultivate it… free of all charge, but he must not
attempt to acquire any title to it, and as soon as he ceases to cultivate it
with his own hands all his interest in it ceases.”
One of the colonists is described as “the son of a Baronet who sacrificed his
material prospects in life for the sake of living in accordance with the
principles in which he believed,” another “was the manager of a prosperous
bank in Scotland.” The colonists “are nearly all from a much higher station in
life and better educated than their neighbors” who refer to them as “the Queer
[B]ut there is nothing invidious in this title. Ask any one of the villagers
about them and he will tell you that the Queer People are good people, and
it is not at all unlikely that he will tell you how some of the Queer People
came into his cottage when his wife or child was ill and gave the advantage
of skilled care out of pure neighborliness, and how the men have often given
them valuable advice about the variation of their crops and the best markets
“While there are certain general principles laid down for the colonists to
observe, there is great latitude in their interpretation… For instance, the
interpretation of living by the labor of others is very broad. Some… refus[e]
to eat anything that they have not grown themselves, while others buy freely
when they can afford if from the village shops.”
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