Results of a Survey of American War Tax Resisters

At the last NWTRCC national meeting, a questionnaire was given out to the attendees asking them about their resistance. Twenty of those surveys were completed and handed back in. Here are some of the results:

  • The average person who responded had been resisting taxes for 22.7 years (median: 19 years). The range was 2–66 years.
  • The twenty responders had resisted an estimated total of about $450,000 in taxes.
  • The IRS had managed to seize $25,000 of this, about 5½%.
  • Of the 20 responders:
    • 10 filed taxes but refused to pay
    • 9 lived on an income that put them below the income tax line
    • 9 used deductions to get below the income tax line
    • 5 don’t file tax returns
    • 3 (also?) don’t pay their FICA or self-employment tax
    (Some of the twenty placed themselves in more than one category)
  • Of the 20 responders:
    • 15 have received letters from the IRS
    • 9 have had contact with an IRS agent
    • 5 have had wages or salary garnished
    • 4 have suffered bank account levies
    • 1 has gone to jail because of tax resistance
    • Several had state tax refunds or social security benefits seized
    • 5 have had their tax returns audited
    • 3 have been assessed a “frivolous filing” penalty
    • 4 have quit their jobs as part of their resistance
    • 6 have closed a bank account to evade seizure
    • 4 have gone cash-only rather than have seizable assets
    • 6 have transferred property to someone else’s name to evade seizure

These results were reported by Erica Weiland in the latest issue of NWTRCC’s newsletter, More Than a Paycheck, which should soon be on-line at its website. If you can’t stand the wait, you could always join up and subscribe.

Apparently my how-to guide has been published in print form. At least that’s what I infer from this article in the Las Vegas Sun:

Every Thursday at 6p.m., the anarchists set up shop in a side room at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Maryland Parkway.

They blanket two folding tables with a spread of literature that ranges from the militant-sounding “[Expletive] Neoliberalism, [Expletive] Borders: An Anarchist Look at World Trade,” to the more tempered “Don’t Owe Nothin’: A Practical Guide to How You Can Stop Paying for War by Living Simply and Eliminating Your Tax Liability.”

Nice to see the word getting out!

The Christian churches have a bad tendency to kiss up to political authority in particularly stinky-nosed ways. And this tendency started so early that it was preserved in sections of the New Testament, giving later preachers scriptural support for their kowtowing.

Here’s an example from .

The context was a campaign of tax resistance that had begun in the Northern Territory of Australia. The people who lived there were taxed by a government in which they had no vote or representation, and so in the classic “no taxation without representation” manner, denied the latter, they denied the former. But a man of God took to the pulpit and told them to knock it off:

A Sermon on Taxation.

Preached by the Rev. C. W. Light at the Anglican Church, .

Text, Ⅰ Peter Ⅱ, 13 and 14.—“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be for the King, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them that do well.”

We have been reminded during the last few days that history repeats itself, and I wish to put before you a repetition which unfortunately has escaped the notice of those who during the last few days have caused some stir in the community. In the first half of the first century, A.D, there was a society formed of which one of the leading features was Brotherhood. This society which grew very quickly claimed no particular country as its own — it was a world-wide society. Some of its members, feeling that the government of the great empire in which they lived did not quite represent their views, refused to pay taxes and one of their leaders — an agitator, he was called by his enemies — wrote to these resisters in this strain — “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves condemnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

Now it is not right to bring politics into the church and I do not intend to do so. But there are occasions when we have to consider what is our duty as Christians in public affairs. Our Lord had to face this question; St. Paul found it necessary to put the Romans in mind of what was due from them to the government of the country in which they lived, and St. Peter also had to instruct the early Christians on their duty as citizens of the Roman Empire. So, too, must I at this time review the Christian conception of government and what is our resultant duty. …The condition of governing is simply that it is in accordance with the scheme of God for the benefit of mankind.

Now some people think that words like these refer only to a government which is Christian, But that is not so! Those words (quoted above) refer to the Roman Government which was pagan in almost every way — the only way in which it was not Pagan was in its sense of justice and the Roman code of laws has been the foundation of justice ever since. If such words could be used of a heathen government which was persecuting Christianity, how much more does it apply to-day! The form of government we have to-day — whatever party is in power makes no essential difference — is a Christian one, and one which is the outcome of 2,000 years of Christianity. If the Roman Government could be considered to be ordained of God for the preservation of social order and the material welfare of the peoples in its charge, how much more must our own form of government be ordained of God! Two errors have been based on that passage of Scripture. The first is the Divine Right of Kings whereby in times past they have claimed that any actions of theirs are right because they are “ordained of God,” and all power is theirs by Divine Right. But it must be remembered that being God’s earthly representative demands obedience to God’s laws and when a king or government disobeys the laws of God in governing the people, the “powers that be” cease to be “ordained of God.” The moral Law of God is the standard to which all Governments must bow. The second error is that of passive obedience to the government no matter what the government ordains. There are occasions when it is not against the Law of God to resist the government. Here again the standard must be the Law of God. If the action of the government does not represent God’s Law, passive resistance is permissible, though, of course, not always wise. We have an example of such resistance in our own times. A few years ago Parliament passed an Act legalising marriage with a deceased wife’s sister. The Church considers it contrary to God’s Law and refuses to marry such cases. These two extremes of Divine Right and passive obedience are therefore to be avoided and it leaves Christians in the position of judging the actions of a government by the standard of the Law of God.

The question then arises[:] is the fact that the citizens of the Northern Territory are not franchised against the moral law of God? And no one can say that it is, There is no doubt but that the franchise would be acceptable to everyone in the Territory, and that what has been recognised as a principle in the British constitution should be extended to this part of the empire. But it is not a question of moral right and wrong that the Government should be resisted on the point. It is purely a political question as to what is a desirable form of government. It is against God’s Law to resist the Govt. because there is no franchise in the Territory. And particularly is it against the Law of God to refuse to refuse to pay taxes. Our Lord was asked whether it was lawful in the eyes of God to pay taxes to Cæsar and He replied “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” To use the coinage current in a country is tantamount to recognising the Government which issues the coinage, and by the word “render” which our Lord used He meant that to pay taxes was an absolute duty of a citizen to the State. It is a great pity that such hysterical and inflammatory speeches were uttered as were poured into the ears of the people of Darwin . Many people can be carried off their feet by impassioned utterances and regretful happenings result. Apart from any political feeling whatever, our Christian duty is to pay our dues to the Government of our country and to avoid lawlessness and disorder.