Planning to Boycott Your Taxes? Start By Adjusting Your Withholding.

If you’re planning to sign on to the War Tax Boycott, or even if you’re thinking about it but aren’t sure yet — now’s the time to start preparing.

You can’t just wait until rolls around and then make up your mind.

Here’s why: most people who file their federal income tax returns in April are due to get a refund. If you’ve overpaid during the year and the government owes you money, you can’t very well resist, can you?

The key is to adjust your withholding today. This way the government takes less money from your paychecks now, so that you’ll owe something in April — then you’ll be able to decide whether or not you want to resist.

Adjusting your withholding is easy. Most people can adjust their withholding by filing a new W-4 form with their employer. You probably filled out one of these forms as one of the first things you did when you got hired. People file new W-4 forms all the time — for instance when they get married, have children, begin to support their elderly parents, or for any number of other reasons.

All you have to do is to ask your boss or your Human Resources department for a new form, or you can download one from the IRS web site and print it out. Then turn it back in to your company, and they’ll adjust your withholding for you.

The key to having less withheld from your paycheck is to declare more “allowances” on your W-4 (some people call these “dependents” or “exemptions,” but that isn’t really accurate). NWTRCC has a good guide on how to do this correctly. The more allowances you declare, the less money gets taken out of your paycheck each month and sent to Washington.

If you’re not employed by someone else, the process is different. If you’re self-employed, you are responsible for paying your own taxes quarterly, and resisting is as easy as reducing the amount you pay or stopping entirely. If you receive a pension or annuity and have income tax withheld from it, you change your withholding by filing a new form W-4P, which works pretty much the same way as the regular W-4.

But the important thing is: do it now! There are only a few more pay periods left in the year, and if your withholding is too high, you’re out-of-luck. Not only will you be unable to resist when you file your return in , but when the government finally writes you a refund check for all that extra money it took from you during the year, it won’t add any interest, and you’ll feel like a sucker.

Here’s an interesting hint of early pacifist tax resistance, from an article in the New York Sun in :


A Little Colony Trying to Carry Out the Principles of the Russian Philosopher at Whiteway, in the Cotswold Hills

LONDON, . — Up on the highest point of the Cotswold Hills in Glocestershire is a little colony of practical followers of Count Tolstoi, people who believe that it is wrong to live in any way by the labor of others. Unable to carry their faith into practise in the outside world, they have settled in this remote corner of England to extract their living from an inhospitable soil by the labor of their own hands.

One must not suppose, however, that this is a colony of wild eyed anarchists or dangerous enemies of government. It is true that they objected at first to paying taxes to a government which they declared gave them nothing in return, and one or two men actually carried their passive resistance to the extent of going to jail for their principles, but even the country people round about to-day are forced to admit that they are good neighbors, pay their debts and bother no one — this in spite of the active opposition of squire and parson, who regard them as dangerous enemies of Church and State.

The article goes on from there to discuss this colony of about a dozen families, called “Whiteway,” which was established on land that was given “to a set of trustees headed by Aylmer Maude, the well known English disciple of Tolstoi, by a farmer of the neighborhood who had become a convert to the theories of the Russian philosopher.”

This land was held in common via this board of trustees, “but any one who is willing to work on it and live in harmony with the colonists is welcome to settle on an acre and cultivate it… free of all charge, but he must not attempt to acquire any title to it, and as soon as he ceases to cultivate it with his own hands all his interest in it ceases.”

One of the colonists is described as “the son of a Baronet who sacrificed his material prospects in life for the sake of living in accordance with the principles in which he believed,” another “was the manager of a prosperous bank in Scotland.” The colonists “are nearly all from a much higher station in life and better educated than their neighbors” who refer to them as “the Queer People.”

[B]ut there is nothing invidious in this title. Ask any one of the villagers about them and he will tell you that the Queer People are good people, and it is not at all unlikely that he will tell you how some of the Queer People came into his cottage when his wife or child was ill and gave the advantage of skilled care out of pure neighborliness, and how the men have often given them valuable advice about the variation of their crops and the best markets for them.

“While there are certain general principles laid down for the colonists to observe, there is great latitude in their interpretation… For instance, the interpretation of living by the labor of others is very broad. Some… refus[e] to eat anything that they have not grown themselves, while others buy freely when they can afford if from the village shops.”

According to Wikipedia, Whiteway Colony is still in operation today.