War Tax Resisters in the Newspapers for Tax Day

The tax resistance “April 15 Minutes of Fame” week continues, with articles in the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and elsewhere.

When the Tax Man cometh, they don’t answer the bell,” says the Monitor:

When Ruth Benn of Brooklyn filed her federal income taxes , she left out an important element: the check.

“In good conscience I cannot pay this money to the US government,” Ms. Benn wrote in a letter to the IRS that accompanied a completed, but unpaid, 1040 form. “I do not want my tax dollars to be used for killing and war.”

Jim Allen, a retired Army social worker now teaching at St. Louis University, knows he is breaking the law by withholding some of his income taxes. But he and his wife, Jan, became fed up with the billions of dollars spent to fund the war in Iraq and decided to take a moral stand.

“I am not opposed to paying taxes, but I am when such a large percent is going to pay for war,” says Mr. Allen, who served in the Army for 20 years.

Becky Pierce of Boston says she evades the IRS by not filing at all. Each April she fills out a 1040 form to determine how much she’ll donate to charity, then puts the income tax form in her filing cabinet.

Ms. Pierce says she is part of a long American tradition of tax resistance, reaching back to when revolutionaries tossed tea into Boston Harbor. But to follow in the footsteps of American protesters such as Henry David Thoreau — who went to jail for withholding taxes during the Mexican-American War — Pierce says she must live on a Walden Pond level of thrift. “You need to have control of your money,” she says. “I’m a self-employed carpenter. No one is reporting what I make. That’s why I can go unnoticed.”

But Jim Stockwell of Micaville, N.C., refuses to take a vow of poverty for what he considers “a simple act of conscience.” He laughs about how he never paid income taxes while working as a vitamin supplement salesman in Maine and a Home Depot employee in North Carolina.

“I made bundles and bundles of money and gave bundles away [to charity],” Mr. Stockwell says. “I arranged my life my own way and the IRS never caught up with me.”

USA Today chimes in with “‘War on tax’ waged against costs of war”:

Like most Americans, Peter Smith and his wife, Ellyn Stecker, sit down each year to fill out a federal tax form. Then they write a check to the U.S. Treasury for half the sum in the “amount you owe” box.

They are among thousands of Americans who refuse to pay part or all of their federal taxes as a protest against war and military spending. “It takes two things to fight a war: people and money,” says Smith, 67, a retired math and computer science teacher. “I can’t refuse anymore to go, but I certainly can refuse to send the money.”

Smith and Stecker donate their withheld tax money to charities, such as Oxfam America, which fights global poverty and hunger, and a local shelter for battered women.

Stecker, 60, a physician, wishes the government would spend tax dollars on those sorts of programs instead of war. “You look at what your money is being spent for, and you say, ‘No, I will not give my money for that,’” she says.

But the IRS eventually gets its share. The couple know the routine: By July, they get a letter from the IRS asking them to pay the rest of what they owe. They respond with a note explaining their reasons for not paying the full amount.

Then there’s a final notice. The IRS says in 30 days it will extract the money from paychecks, bank accounts or retirement funds. And the agency does just that.

The couple figure that over the years, the IRS has collected about $75,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest from them. , thanks to withholding and charitable giving, they owe nothing to the federal government.

The Berkeley Daily Planet brings us “Tax Resistance: Woman Opposes War, IRS”:

Want your anti-war protest to get noticed? Don’t pay your taxes.

Susan Quinlan’s been doing it for , and she’s attracted plenty of attention from the Internal Revenue Service, which showed up at her front door demanding she pay a portion of her earnings or face imprisonment.

Quinlan refused to cooperate, the IRS slunk away and, , she’s dodging federal tax laws as gamely as ever.

Quinlan, a Berkeley resident, has retooled her life to keep negative consequences to a minimum. She doesn’t own property or maintain much cash in bank accounts and she declines jobs that require she withhold money from her paycheck.

“My approach was, I don’t want to pay any taxes at all, which means adapting my lifestyle to make that possible,” Quinlan said.

As a full-time volunteer peace advocate, Quinlan falls beneath the tax line and need not pay a dime. In the past, though, when she’s owed money, she’s had to navigate thorny legal territory to ensure her earnings steer clear of federal war coffers.

One problem facing many aspiring resisters is that taxes are typically taken out of paychecks automatically, thwarting the opportunity to resist. Solutions include self-employment, contract work, or loading up on W-4 allowances that minimize per-paycheck deductions. When April 15 rolls around, many resisters either submit a 1040 then refuse to pay their taxes or eschew filing altogether.

Quinlan opts for the latter. She hadn’t filed a federal income tax return , when the IRS came after her wages from a job she held at a nonprofit Latina employment agency. Rather than pay up, she quit, and would do it again, she said.

“I loved that job, but my commitment to not pay for war came first,” she said.

Does that mean she pockets the money and heads for the outlets?

Definitely not, she said. Like many resisters, Quinlan redirects those tax dollars to local charities and community groups.

“I always calculated what taxes would be owed because I do feel it’s important that I contribute to the community,” she said. “I just don’t want it to go to illegal, immoral, imperialistic wars.”

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