War Tax Resisters in the News as Tax Day Approaches

Lots of tax resistance in the news as approaches:

The “Democracy Now” radio show features Ruth Benn of NWTRCC and Pamela Schwartz of the National Priorities Project, talking about the cost of war and how to stop buying it. (This segment starts at 28:45, if you download the audio, or here’s the transcript.) Benn discusses the phone tax and its recent partial repeal, the history of war tax resistance and of her own resistance, and how the government typically responds to resisters (including an update on the imprisoned tax resisters from the Restored Israel of Yahweh group).

The National Priorities Project has released their estimate of how much of your tax bill feeds the war machine. They use a different methodology from that used by the War Resisters League in their pie chart, so they come up with different numbers. If you’re curious, read the fine print.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel profiles local war tax resisters Scott Kennedy and Alexander Gaguine:

Kennedy, 59, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, has not paid a full federal tax bill as his way to protest war and object to the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. government on bolstering defense.

“It’s a valid moral stance,” said Kennedy, a former Santa Cruz mayor. “To me, it’s not just an extraordinary waste of resources, but withholding taxes is part of the effort to build a more humane world community. We’re happy to pay taxes for a good purpose.”

The San Jose Metro takes note of Silicon Valley tax resistance, and tax resisters Susan Quinlan and “Dave and Mary X”.

Women’s Action for New Directions posts some great ideas for “Tax Day” protest actions.

And Willamette Week profiles tax resisters John & Pat Schwiebert, John Grueschow, and Ann & Bruce Huntwork. I like the article’s subtitle: “Your money is paying for a bloody war. Theirs isn’t.”


If you’ve ever been tempted by those “show me the law” tax protester types to actually show them the law, you’ll find it in Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

One provision of a subchapter of a chapter of a subtitle of that title is a definitions section that includes this tidbit:

For purposes of this chapter—

  1. State
    The term “State” includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
  2. United States
    The term “United States” when used in a geographical sense includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

An individual who is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (but not otherwise a citizen of the United States) shall be considered, for purposes of this section, as a citizen of the United States.

To anyone who is neither a tax protester nor a garden variety moron, this indicates that for the purposes of that chapter of the tax code, Puerto Rico, Guam and the like are treated as if they were states just like Ohio and Alabama. It would be like saying “for the purposes of alphabetizing this Spanish word list, the alphabet includes Ñ and LL” or “for the purposes of counting calories, ‘food’ includes beverages and condiments.”

To a tax protester, however, this section of the law is where the federal government formally admits that for the purposes of the tax code, the word “state” is used perversely only to refer to those U.S. possessions that aren’t states. Ergo, if you live in an actual state, the code doesn’t apply to you.

For an example of such logic at work, see Mark’s comment a few days back.

I remember going through a phase like this early in adolescence. My parents would say “you’re grounded — I don’t want you to take one step out that door” and so I would leave by the window instead, and then get indignant when they punished me further for disobeying. Or, “you are not to eat a single cookie before dinner young man,” so I’d eat two. Genius. And yet: stupid.

But that’s okay, because when you’re a schoolboy, you’ve still got a lot to learn about which forms of cleverness are actually smart and which are just complicated varieties of stupid. I grew up, and left that variety of sophistry behind. I wonder what developmental psychology pathology keeps the tax protesters at it year after year.

It’s one thing when Alberto Gonzales uses such thinking to define torture out of existence — after all, as disingenuous as he is, he at least has actual authority in the legal system — when he manipulates the controls of the machine he’s at least doing so from the driver’s seat. The poor tax protesters, though, come into court armed with their magic spells and wishful thinking and expect to drive the car while crushed under the tires or smashed like a bug in the radiator grill.


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