American War Tax Resisters Confer at Their National Gathering in San Diego

NWTRCC National Gathering in San Diego, California.

There was a focus at this gathering on exploring the connections between war tax resistance and other struggles in the peace-and-justice milieu: the back-room antidemocratic negotiations for the TransPacific Partnership, the criminalization of immigration, the war on drugs, the militarization of schools, and so forth. We heard from several local activists who are concentrating on various of these facets.

We also discussed our own experiences as war tax resisters and various challenges we were encountering. One woman talked of being targeted by an unusually zealous IRS agent who succeeded in attaching 50% of her social security (it is more typical for the IRS to seize 15% from recipients who have tax debts).

There was concern that some obscure language slipped into a recent farm bill might have eliminated the statute of limitations that has prevented the IRS from going after the tax debt of many war tax resisters when it has remained uncollected for ten years (the bill’s language is difficult to interpret, but in any case we haven’t seen evidence of any IRS policy change in this regard yet).

We talked about the new challenges associated with Obamacare. For example, those resisters who have been refusing to file tax returns as part of their resistance are thereby locked out of the insurance premium subsidy program and find it harder to participate in the insurance marketplace. Also, those resisters who are married filing separately as a way of partially shielding their non-resisting spouses from the consequences of their resistance, are also finding that this locks out both spouses from the program.

One resister spoke of the difficulties he was having in finding an accountant or tax advisor who was capable of understanding the particular concerns and goals of a tax resisting client.

Peter Smith gave us an update on the newly-revitalized War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, which just completed its first appeal, which achieved a 79% reimbursement of penalties and interest for three resisters in one month. The new policy of the Fund puts a one-month deadline on appeal responses, but carries over any unreimbursed amount to the following appeal, so resisters who apply to the fund for reimbursement of penalties and interest can expect to eventually have the full amount reimbursed.

We also talked about a number of NWTRCC-internal projects: a report from our strategy and message retooling subcommittees, a look at a new crowdfunding project that the fundraising team will be pursuing shortly, and a new initiative to make sure our group is better-represented at conferences and gatherings of allied organizations and movements.