Some tabs that have slid through my browser in recent days:
War Tax Resistance
- The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is holding its biannual conference . It will be an on-line conference. You can find the conference schedule and information about how to register at the NWTRCC website.
- War tax resistance season has kicked off in Spain. Activists in Bilbao scaled the fence surrounding the Juan de Garay military barracks and hung banners reading (in Basque) “Military spending €43,000 million”/“#TaxResistance”. They have also opened up “Tax Objection Offices” in various parts of the country at which people can come to get counseling on how to resist their taxes effectively.
- At the NWTRCC blog, tax resister William E. Ruhaak shared his experience trying to get the government to acknowledge his carefully-drafted, personal “statement of conscience.”
He fought a determined pro se legal battle to get the U.S. Tax Court to admit his statement of conscience as evidence in his tax appeal.
He believes such a struggle is important in order to defend “The fundamental human right to publicly express an opinion or belief.
And also the right to have a written expression of that belief included in government documentation for future reference.”
The Court eventually gave in and added his statement as a piece of evidence, but seemingly only to humor him.
The ruling in his case reads in part:
We nevertheless admonish petitioner that instituting future proceedings before the Tax Court for the purpose of advancing frivolous arguments relating to his conscientious objection to the payment of Federal taxes is likely to result in the imposition of a significant section 6673 penalty against him. We recognized four decades ago that “there has been a long and undeviating parade of cases in this and other courts” rejecting the arguments of conscientious objectors who sought to avoid paying “the part of their taxes which they estimated to be attributable to military expenditures and to which they objected because of their religious, moral, and ethical objections to war and because of their claimed ‘rights’ under various constitutional provisions, the Nuremberg Principles, international law, and numerous international agreements and treaties.” Greenberg v. Commissioner, 73 T.C. 806, 810 (). At this late date, the Court will not condone the continued assertion of similar frivolous positions in meritless litigation that wastes both its own limited resources and those of the IRS.
- The War Resisters League has released its annual “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” pie chart fliers, based on the Biden Administration’s proposed budget for . As Pentagon spending continues to rise, and yet more millions are being spent to arm Ukraine, pie chart aficionados may be surprised to see that the military-spending slice of the pie chart seems to have noticibly shrunk this year. Ed Hedemann and Ruth Benn, who do the research and composition for the pie chart, explain why. In part, the reason is that they are operating on the proposed budget, not whatever budget (and supplementary appropriations) Congress will eventually, tardily enact. The Biden Administration’s proposed budget is chockablock with a wish list of non-military spending that Congress will probably not enact. The absolute amount of military spending has risen substantially, but relatively it looks smaller because of all that extra wish list spending.
- The latest NWTRCC newsletter is out, with a preview of the upcoming tax filing season and other news from the American war tax resistance scene.
- Nina Olson was the “National Taxpayer Advocate” from , a sort of independent ombudsman/oversight office within the IRS.
She says the agency now is the worst she’s seen it.
The only thing that comes close to the problems we’re seeing now at the Internal Revenue Service was in 1985, when the agency was rolling out some new technology—technology it’s still using today. Back then, the processing centers got so behind on their work that employees started hiding tax returns in closets and putting them in bags in the trash. Now it’s way worse, with the IRS, for the second year in a row, entering the filing season with a backlog of millions of not yet processed returns and pieces of correspondence.
- The current National Taxpayer Advocate released an amusing blog post about how pathetic and outdated the IRS processes for handling tax returns are. Excerpts:
When I released my annual report in , I said that paper is the IRS’s Kryptonite and the IRS is buried in it. The reason paper returns are so challenging is that the IRS still has not implemented technology to machine read them, so each digit on every paper return must be manually keystroked into IRS systems by an employee.
- The IRS has announced that it plans to hire thousands of new workers to try to deal with its paperwork backlog. But, in a tight labor market, and unable to offer competitive pay rates to compensate for the soul-crushing tedium ($15.61/hour anyone?), they’re finding it a challenge to turn those plans into personnel. The Washington Post took a look at a recent job fair the agency held.
- A while back, the U.S. government decided it would take some of the IRS’s stale inventory of unpaid tax debt out of its hands and turn those accounts over to private debt collection companies to see if they’d have any more luck collecting. That initiative “has brought in only about half as much money as projected, according to a new audit, while racking up costs the agency has not properly reported.”
- IRS employees don’t follow the rules on paid time-off, with a suspicious pattern of sick leave days allowing employees to make their own three-day weekends and extended holidays.
- The human battle against robot traffic ticket cameras continues, with cameras spraypainted in France, chopped down in Italy, shot in England, rammed in Belgium, shattered in Spain, torched in France, belled in Australia, destroyed in France and Réunion, and stoned in Germay in recent weeks.
- Catalan separatist group / government-in-exile Council for the Republic is promoting a tax redirection campaign in which Catalan citizens withhold the portion of their taxes that would go to the Spanish monarchy or to its repression apparatus, and give that money instead to Front Republicà d’Acció Solidària or some such group working for Catalan independence.
- Doomed, quixotic, gonzo tax resister John McAfee is trying to get in the last word by means of a set of interviews he gave when he was on the run from the law.
In them, he explains why he stopped paying. Excerpts:
I’d just had enough. I’d paid $50 million in income tax over the years. I thought that was plenty. I hadn’t paid tax since I went to Belize, but technically, as an American citizen, even if you’re not living in the country, using the services and driving on the roads, you still have to file and pay 30% of your income to the United States. The only two countries in the world that enforce that rule are the United States and Eritrea! How [frigging] bizarre is that? Anyway, I just said, “I’m sorry. This is insane. I’m not doing this anymore.”
[I]n America, income tax is in fact unconstitutional anyway. It was only ever created to fund the war effort in , but that edict, like many others, was never extinguished after the need for it ceased to exist.
I was telling people that I thought taxes were illegal, and if they also felt that they were illegal and/or unjust they should just stop paying, too. Not just that, I was showing them how to do it without getting caught.
- I stumbled somehow on the No Obligation Challenge website. It looks like a U.K. version of the familiar U.S. tax protester song-and-dance (“Did you know there is no law obligating you to pay council tax?”) but I was impressed by the quality of the graphic design and layout of the website, which is head and shoulders above what I usually see from that segment of the fringe.