War Tax Redirection Can Mean Redirecting Time, Not Just Money

Two things kept rattling around in my brain after I got back from the NWTRCC conference in Birmingham .

One was Joffre Stewart’s a capella “Oh-Ba-Ma!” song. I don’t remember the lyrics, but only the general tone of blasphemy, in which Barack’s virgin birth was denied, and the miracles attributed to him were cast into doubt.

The other was something Clare Hanrahan said about redirection.

“Redirection,” in which war tax resisters take all or some portion of what the IRS claims they owe and send the money instead to charity, is a very popular war tax resistance tactic. Some would say “tactic” is the wrong word — it’s not really the means to an end but is itself the end they’re aiming for: being able to use their money to support their own idea of community needs, rather than the Pentagon’s wasteful and immoral priorities.

But those of us who are doing tax resistance by reducing our incomes below the income tax line can sometimes feel left out when redirection is given a big priority, or when, as sometimes happens, those resisters who do redirect their tax money talk as though they assume that’s what all of us do or should do.

But we don’t have an amount to redirect because our strategy has been to reduce that amount to zero. Furthermore, because we may have had to squeeze our budgets in order to do tax resistance this way, we may not have much left over with which to make a big donation in April.

Hanrahan said that as she sees it, there’s more to redirect than money:

For the most part my redirection of time and personal involvement has been possible by my choice to spend my hours in direct service and solidarity where my heart leads me, rather than in wagework geared to bring in cash. Currently I do literacy volunteer work, stand in solidarity with Veterans for Peace, and with Women in Black, serve on boards and committees, and in years past, founded and managed a homeless advocacy center. I believe that redirection of time and presence provides a personal and potent contribution to the common good, a gift of self that has more dimensions than money alone. I redirect each time I give my time and energy in support of good work within my community. It is a way to share in the work of change, my liberation bound up in that of those I stand with, rather than perpetuating the hierarchy of charitable giving.

That makes a lot of sense to me.