Spain’s Tax Resistance and Economic Disobedience Movement

Some more news about Spain’s tax resistance movement, translated from the Spanish:

“If the solution does not come from government, the people have to rely on themselves and seek alternatives.”

To depend less on “bad government.” This is the proposal that comes from the Office of Economic Disobedience from Legazpi, in Madrid, a center that opened in to help people self-manage their economic activity and conduct federal income tax resistance.

The Offices of Economic Disobedience emerged from the first economic protest meeting that was held in Zaragoza, organized by the creators of these centers on . Currently they exist in Zaragoza, Barcelona, Madrid (in Legazpi and Lavapiés), Ávila, Castellón, Sevilla, and Mallorca.

What’s up?

The Office of Economic Disobedience in Legazpi, in Madrid, opened in . Its activity has centered up to now on tax season, as assemblies, cooperatives, platforms, and people have come here in search of information and advice on that topic. “People don’t know how to resist taxes for military spending, payments on the national debt, or for the church and monarchy,” says Reme, head of the Madrid office.

The reform of the VAT has generated activity in the center, but, in this case, the questions come from entrepreneurial people interested in self-management. “They don’t only want to complain; they want to know what they can do for themselves,” explains Reme, “since the aim is to depend less and less on bad government.”

The center is very interested in education, that is to say teaching methods that will produce a change in consciousness. To this end, various Offices of Economic Disobedience are going to conduct meetings to raise awareness in interested parties about how self-management and economic disobedience function. For now, they disseminate their activities in 15-M assemblies and on other days, so that their message reaches more people.

Inquiries can be made by email, phone, and in person. People seeking information about how to develop their business via self-management or who want to resolve their tax questions, can come on Tuesdays to the center found in their city. Up to now, the Office in Legazpi has assisted about fifty people.

Lines of action

The activity principally centers on two activities: tax resistance and self-management.

Tax resistance consists of calculating the amount you wish to object to before filling out your tax return. This amount should be the portion of the federal budget that is allocated to the Senate, the debt, military spending, the Church, and the monarchy. “We suggest resisting 25% although it is common for the amount to be around 10%,” says the head of the Madrid Office.

The amount that is resisted should be redirected to a project that is developing a non-profit organization. In order to finish the operation, the person who does it should send a letter that explains the motives for objection and the check corresponding to the resisted taxes to the chosen organization.

Self-management centers on developing a business outside the regulations established by the State. “In times of hardship, if no solution comes from the hands of Government, the people must rely on each other and search for alternatives. The problem is that we have become accustomed to being told what to do, and this must change,” Reme thinks.

Though existing law includes measures that protect self-management, the problem is that nobody is informed of or taught about this option, explained the head of the Office. Cooperatives are the option most suited for self-managing, since this scheme results in less state control and its structure is based on a partnership, where the organization is more cohesive and less hierarchical.

The Office of Economic Disobedience wants to promote the common good, trying different options and experimenting with new proposals. As Reme explains, “economic disobedience needs to be done in order not to follow the commands set out in unjust laws.”

Future actions

The Office of Economic Disobedience prepares various projects for the coming months, like an informative talk that summarizes all of the information for tax season this year, or the creation of a local self-management network.

This self-management network will include urban gardeners, free stores, time-banks or food-banks, etc. Also, this project can develop initiatives related to the use of free [“libres y gratuitas”] energies, among others. The object of the Office is to construct an “bubble” independent of public power in which there is the minimum number of middlemen between the producer and the consumer.

Questions raised by people who come into the Office also can lead to other projects. The Office is studying how one can develop a business or receive any kind of income when one does not want a bank account. They are also learning about actions against bank fraud, as with the complaint that was recently lodged against Bankia by some collectives.

They are developing outreach strategies through different channels. One of these is Mapunto, a web page that contains a map of social movements that are being developed in Spain. Here they set out the Offices of Economic Disobedience that exist in the country and the available ways to get in contact with them.

A New York World dispatch from concerning “the condition of Ireland” included this note:

It seems that under an old law the clergy of the Established Church are entitled to what are called “extraordinary tithes,” which are collected upon the hop crop. The hop-growers, feeling these tithes to be an imposition, have lately been resisting them; have refused to pay them and have, when their property has been distrained by law to satisfy them, held meetings at which the law has been denounced in no measured terms. Every one I spoke to upon the subject, while in some cases not agreeing that the hop-growers were in the right, conceded at once that they had gone to work in the right and constitutional way to bring about an inquiry. Now, when an Englishman can get a Parliamentary inquiry he is satisfied that he has taken a great step in the direction of right, and in this belief he is correct because if there be an abuse and the attention of Parliament be called to it it is generally righted. It will probably strike you, as it did me, that the action of the hop growers in this case in holding meetings and in refusing to pay the tithes was precisely similar to that of the Irish in holding meetings and refusing to pay rents. In the one case the action was approved as being constitutional, but in the other the tone of the English press is to the last degree denunciatory.