War Tax Resisters Try To Harmonize with Occupy

We’re not buying it. Fair taxes for all, war taxes from none.

graphic from a handbill that people from New England War Tax Resistance are handing out at a tax day event organized with Occupy Boston

War tax resisters are finding that it is no less of a delicate balancing act trying to merge their message with the left-wing Occupy movement than it was with the right-wing TEA Party.

Ed Agro reports (excerpts):

…I took part part in meetings for tax day with the Boston groups that have taken the lead in planning.

Reconciling the WTR message and those that OB & the unions & NV trainers want to get out has been challenging. It hasn’t been that the coalition is averse to WTR (though folks have the usual questions), but that the mandate to the working group was to find a consistent bottom-line demand that would get the most assent from the public while at the same time giving all factions space to present their part of the story. From my call that went out to the E. MA resisters:

The coalition that planned the tax day events is made up of Occupy Boston, peace, and social-justice groups. After much discussion it was agreed that the message should be kept simple and the slogan “Corporations and the 1%: pay your taxes!” would be the best way to focus the public’s attention during this one-day event; I agreed with the strategy. While it could be argued that WTR, war, and militarism rather than greed and corruption might be a better focus, the WTR community in the Boston area just doesn’t have the resources to pull off that sort of demonstration, let alone lead a coalition. On the other hand those fighting corporatism, greed, and the abuse of the tax system are beginning to understand the connection of these ills to the militarization of America, and have welcomed our collaboration.

I know it’s at first blush difficult to reconcile the call that corporations should pay their fair share of taxes at the same time that we’re asking citizens to refuse taxes that go for warmaking. But it’s not impossible, we just have to be patient and continue to show the connections.…

I don’t see myself marching under a “pay your taxes” banner any time soon, but some folks apparently see the ideological inconsistency as being a price worth paying for possible coalition-building.

Our own local tax resistance group is holding a demonstration on tax day along with CodePINK, Global Day of Action on Military Spending, BAY-Peace, and others. Some of these groups also have a pro-tax message, though not one necessarily out of line with mainstream war tax resistance (“Taxes for education not militarization”), and not one that forms a banner covering the demonstration as a whole.

The “tax the rich” message is very popular in Occupy circles, and war tax resisters who know that a rich person’s taxes are as badly misused as a poor person’s taxes have their work cut out for them when trying to put their own message forward.

But speaking of tax day actions, NWTRCC has a list of ’em going on nationwide on and around .

Shortly after Tax Day, Cindy Sheehan will appear in court where the IRS will ask a judge to compel her to fill out a collection information statement so they can find assets to seize for her back taxes (or, possibly, so they can determine she doesn’t have enough assets to be worth pursuing).

When the IRS takes Cindy Sheehan to court to try to force her to support the war machine that killed her son, other war tax resisters from Northern California will be standing with her.

On , the IRS will ask a judge of the U.S. Federal Court, California Eastern District (501 I St., Sacramento) to compel Cindy Sheehan to give them information that would help them collect money from her. Northern California War Tax Resistance supports Sheehan’s continued refusal to cooperate.

Cindy Sheehan is not waiting for Congress to shut off the spigot of funding for war and militarism — she’s taking a stand of conscience by refusing to pay the taxes that make the wars possible. And she’s not alone: war tax resisters across the country are refusing to pay into the Pentagon’s budget.

Among them are members of the group Northern California War Tax Resistance.

“I wish more anti­war activists would put their money where their mouth is like Cindy does,” says David Gross, 43, of Berkeley, California. Gross hasn’t paid any federal income tax . “I didn’t feel like I could really say I was against the wars until I stopped supporting them with my tax dollars, so I decided to stop paying. Now I put all of my energy on the side of my values instead of being a reluctant part­time worker for the Pentagon.”

Jan and David Hartsough of San Francisco, California, have been resisting the federal telephone excise tax , and today they also refuse to pay half of their federal income tax. “The U.S. Government has already taken Cindy’s son for the immoral and illegal war in Iraq,” David says. “She should not in addition be forced to pay for other mothers’ sons to kill and be killed in Afghanistan.”

“This year I’m celebrating of refusing to pay war taxes to the federal government,” says Jon Marley, 50, of Berkeley, California. “I choose this kind of civil disobedience because I believe it is morally wrong for the U.S. to spend nearly 50% of our taxes on murder, torture, and rape in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. We should be using those dollars for projects that provide housing and food and education and health care. Cindy Sheehan understands this, and that’s why she has my full support in her brave stand as a war tax resister.”

“How many of our sons and daughters must die in faraway lands? And how many faraway sons and daughters must die at their hands?” asks war tax resister Susan Quinlan of Berkeley, California, who has been resisting taxes . “Thank you to Cindy Sheehan and to the other mothers and fathers who say ‘no!’ to this military madness! Not our children, not their children, and not with our taxes!”

Martha Cain, of Berkeley, California, says: “[Former U.S. Secretary of State] Alexander Haig said [of anti­war protesters], ‘Let them march all they want as long as they continue to pay their taxes.’ Cindy Sheehan interpreted this advice and acted on it. I support and admire Cindy for her courage and commitment in refusing to pay for more violence in this world.”

“I refuse to allow any of my tax money to be spent on wars, torture, rape, and killing people for whatever excuse the government and our corporations want to make up,” says Xan Joi, of Berkeley, California. “To attempt to force Cindy Sheehan to pay for this war on Iraq that actually took her child’s life is unconscionable, immoral — and demanding that she participate in supporting, condoning, and accepting the murder of her own child — let alone other mothers’ children. I feel so tender toward the women of this nation and other nations that I will not allow myself or others to injure their sons and daughters. Cindy Sheehan is a courageous mother who is refusing to be bought by the greed of our nation. I support her stands.”

“I have been resisting the military portion of my income taxes since Vietnam,” says Lorin Peters, 69, of Lafayette, California. “For two reasons: our military is being used for domination and empire, and not for defense; [and] nonviolent defense works better than violent defense, as was demonstrated by Gandhi and others.”

Sheehan appreciates the company: “I would like this to be a movement,” she says. “There are many, many people who are conscientious tax resisters around the country, but I think we need to make it a movement with more and more people joining us. There are many ways people can be conscientious tax objectors. You don’t have to do it 100% like I do.”