Convince Groups to Endorse Tax Resistance

If you can convince an organization to endorse tax resistance, or to recommend it to its members, this can strengthen your campaign and bring in new resisters.

I’ve mentioned before the tactic of creating groups to organize tax resistance. This related tactic involves convincing already-established groups to make tax resistance part of their program.

  • Tax resistance in the women’s suffrage movement started with individual women who saw the logic (and the rhetorical power) of the “no taxation without representation” stand. But it was an uphill climb to get suffrage organizations to endorse the tactic. Here are some examples from the U.S.:
    • Both Susan B. Anthony and E. Oakes Smith offered resolutions advocating tax resistance at the Syracuse Women’s Rights Convention in , but the records of the convention do not indicate whether these resolutions were taken up or voted on.
    • In the newly-formed Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage announced that while it did not plan to organize a tax resistance campaign, it “would have every sympathy with such action.” This came in the wake of a call to tax resistance by Anna Howard Shaw, president of National American Woman Suffrage Association.
    and from the United Kingdom:
    • In , the Women’s Freedom League, which had advocated tax resistance since , was joined by the older Women’s Social and Political Union. “It is to be hoped,” wrote a League member in their newsletter, “that the Women’s Tax Resistance League will succeed in persuading all the other Suffrage Societies to unite on this logical policy of refusing supplies until our grievance is redressed.”
    • In , the Federated Council of Suffrage Societies “unanimously and enthusiastically” endorsed tax resistance and “recommended its adoption as a means of supporting their demands for a Government measure of Woman Suffrage.”
  • The classic example of a group adopting tax resistance is that of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. Since the founding of the Society, it had a policy of instructing members to refuse to pay tithes to rival churches, and this soon expanded to teaching Quakers not to pay taxes for “drums, colors, or for other warlike uses” or fines assessed for refusal to participate in the military. These policies would be codified in a book of “discipline,” and Quakers who deviated from them would be subject to a process of correction, or, if they continued to defy the policy, “disowning.” The extent of the policy could change over time, and from meeting to meeting, and there could be heated argument about how strict a standard of tax resistance Quakers should be held to.
  • An existing network of Local Producers’ Associations was crucial to the quick mass-adoption of tax resistance by agriculturalists in Queensland, Australia, in and to the success of their campaign.
  • Miners’ lodges in western Australia met and voted to instruct the Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation to launch a tax strike in it and other employees’ unions and to back it up with a general strike if the government took action against resisters, in .
  • In , three American “peace” churches — representing Quakers, Brethren, and Mennonites — issued a joint statement that called for war tax resistance among the 350,000 church members there.
  • The United Ireland Party — known as the “Blue Shirts” — passed a tax resistance resolution at its annual conference in .
  • In , the Landlords Association, a group of Jewish property owners in Palestine, adopted a policy of refusing to pay taxes to the British occupation government in protest against its “White Paper” policy.
  • After the passage of the Education Act which gave taxpayer money to sectarian schools, the Leeds Free Church Council voted 89 to one in favor of promoting tax resistance.
  • The New York Automobile Club met in and decided to advise its members not to pay a new license fee that it considered to be illegal.
  • The Moslem League instructed its members to refuse to pay a punitive tax to the United Provinces of British India in .