War Tax Resisters in Vermont

Vermont’s Rutland Herald has run a piece on the local tax-resistance community. Excerpts:

Anti-war activist Linda Leehman refuses to put her money where her mouth is. And that’s the whole point.

By withholding about 50 percent of her federal tax bill, Leehman says she at least partially washes her hands of the blood spilled in U.S.-waged military operations.

“It’s a deeply moral and spiritual decision when you decide that killing is wrong,” Leehman, a 31-year tax resister, told about a dozen other people gathered in the basement of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library on . “I believe that war is murder. … And I have to insist on my moral right to not connect myself (financially) with what I believe is truly insane and truly abhorrent.”…

Her remarks came during a workshop for central Vermont residents looking to find out more about tax resistance.…

For Plainfield resident Lori Barg, another tax-resistance expert offering advice , Thoreau’s stance against the Spanish-American War retains its relevance 157 years later.

“What’s one bullet cost? A nickel? A dime?” Barg said, as she recounted a meeting she had with a Central American woman whose son had been killed by a bullet fired by a U.S. soldier. “Since there’s no draft for women, the only way for me to be resistant was to not pay for war.

“As horrible as I feel when I read the news, one really wonderful thing about being a tax resister is I can say, ‘I didn’t buy that bullet.’ And that makes me happy.”…

Varying forms of tax resistance carry varying degrees of consequence. A common and relatively safe strategy is withholding the 3 percent federal excise tax levied on telephone bills. About half that money goes to the defense budget, Barg says. Another low-risk method is simply keeping your income below the level at which the federal government begins to require taxes. With the help of an accountant, Barg said she has kept her annual income below that threshold.

Other resisters are bolder. Leehman, whose taxes are withheld by her employer, claimed more dependents than legally allowed, thereby preventing the government from taking its full legal share of earned income. She ends up paying about half the taxes she actually owes. Leehman also publicizes her protest by writing letters to her congressmen, local newspapers and the IRS.…

For Lea Wood, an 89-year-old World War Ⅱ veteran arrested just this week at an anti-war rally in Barre, tax resistance is “another piece” in her effort to subvert her government’s military policies.

“People will say, ‘I’m only one person, what I do is so little,’” Wood says. “But when water drops on a stone long enough, the stone wears away. Eventually it has a cumulative effect. And tax resistance is one way to achieve that effect.”



Time for that old familiar tune: This war costs a bunch. Congress isn’t making it difficult for the Dubya Squad to get their hands on as much war making money as they’d like. What are you doing to keep your money from Congress?

The White House said that it planned to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year, the highest .

Most of the new money would go to the war in Iraq, which already has cost an estimated $250 billion since the U.S. invasion in . The additional spending, along with other war funds the Bush administration will seek separately in its regular budget next week, would push the price tag for combat and nation-building

Congress has granted all previous administration requests for war funds, and this one is expected to be no different. But budget analysts said the size of the newest request could make it more difficult for the Bush administration to get any new tax cuts through Congress this year. The cost of military operations in is $35 billion higher than what Congress had estimated a few months ago the Defense Department would need this year.…

The rising costs contrast starkly with projections before the war. Former White House economic advisor Lawrence B. Lindsey predicted in that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, drawing administration ire for such a high estimate and eventually resigning his post.…

The $70 billion that the administration plans to seek would be added to $50 billion approved by Congress in as an advance on expenses, making this year the most expensive yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are tabulated together in federal legislation.

Congress has approved five emergency spending measures , and other federal funds have been moved into the effort to wage battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all, more than $400 billion will have been set aside or spent by the end of this year.…

The administration also plans to seek a down payment on war costs and will include a request for $50 billion in its regular budget being presented to Congress on .

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