Confronting the System through Taxation

“Motherspeak” at Long Time Passing has penned an article on “Confronting The System through Taxation.”

It quotes a number of tax resisters, including one “David G.” who resembles me in many ways, but who says things that I’m pretty sure didn’t come out of my mouth, like: “If I choose not to pay why should that affect my desire for a peaceful life and my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? After all, that’s defined in our Bill of Rights and guaranteed by our Constitution.” So, take the article with a grain of salt.

When I started on this “experiment” in tax resistance, I did a lot of research into the various ways I could rejigger my life and my finances so that less of my income was “taxable income” and more tax credits might be available to me.

Well, this sort of thing is useful not just to those of us who are compelled by itchy consciences to stop funding the government, but to anyone who wants to get a better return on the investment of their time and energy. The Wall Street Journal profiles one such fellow, a certified public accountant named Doug Stives who has taken on the task of tax-optimizing his life as a personal hobby.

Vincent Partal, the director and proprietor of “Vilaweb,” an influential Catalan online newspaper, has called for a tax strike against the Spanish government in the cause of Catalan nationalism.

The editorial in which he made this call, “Get angry. Organize. Don’t pay.” is written in Catalan, naturally, which I can only half-decipher with my shoddy Spanish and some help from Google Translate.

Here are some excerpts, or my best guesses anyway:

…we have two options: complain or do something.

Something? Like what? A tax strike. hundreds of thousands were in the streets demanding respect for Catalonia… [T]he vast majority of the population is aware of the choking of the economy of our society by the systematic plunder carried out by the Spanish government.

This profound mobilization of civil society that came to life in recent years is more than enough of a base to start an organization of indignance. From there, deliberate widespread civil disobedience.

If an individual, outraged by the arrogance of the Spanish state, refuses to pay taxes in June, surely in September or in January, he will be a defendant in the tax office or in the courts. It’s not worth it. But what if you were talking tens of thousands of people, businesses, and institutions — also institutions — that are refusing to pay, and are organized?

Now, this won’t take off spontaneously. But it is not difficult to get started and to move it along. Suppose an organization, Òmnium for example, or its referendum organizers, were to formally declare a sort of tax “Robinson list.” In such a case, those determined not to pay a personal, business, or institutional tax would only have to sign on, leaving the details to the organizers. When the deadline came, the organizers could simply certify whether there are enough volunteers to carry out the action or not. There aren’t enough? Well, nothing is done, we continue to lament. There are tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? the number is considered sufficient? In such a case it would suffice to say: Let the deadline pass without paying the tax.

And everything will change.