The Cooperativa Integral Catalana has released a new third edition of its Manual de Desobediencia Económica (Handbook of Economic Disobedience).
It is mostly unchanged from previous editions, with a few updates, a slightly expanded section on alternative currencies, and an expanded section on tax resistance. I’d attempted a translation of an earlier edition in , and you can find those translations at the following pages:
- Introduction to Civil Disobedience, Economic Disobedience, and Comprehensive Disobedience
- Exercise the Right of Rebellion: Join the Manifesto of a New Rebel Dignity
- Tax resistance as a strategy of rebellion; Auditing the national debt; Mechanisms for resistance to the value-added tax
- Bankruptcy, squatting, cooperative housing, and other techniques
- How to stop collaborating with the banks
- Alternatives to the system; integrated cooperatives
- The community economy, barter, alternative currencies, the transitory relationship with the capitalist economy
- Alternative cooperative finance, self-management cores; Living the comprehensive revolution
Here are my translations of the new sections:
Practical Guide to Income Tax Resistance
Everyone can practice war tax resistance
The state collects taxes throughout the year from everyone in society, and it does so in many ways, not only via the income tax. This money is destined in large part for the army, internal security, payments on the debt, and other undesirable expenses.
Your income tax return represents a magnificent opportunity to recover this money and redirect it to a just end. Therefore:
- Anyone, whether or not they have income, whether they get a paycheck or not, whether they are registered or not, may fill out a tax return and reclaim money from the state to redirect to an alternative and constructive project.
- The return can have an amount due, a refund, or a big zero; in each case you can still resist.
What is tax resistance?
It’s the unwillingness to collaborate with the State in military spending, the military, the internal security apparatus, the prison system, the monarchy, the national debt, and other undesirable expenses — active disobedience at the point of filing the tax return. It technically consists of sending a part of those taxes to a project that works in the defense of the progress of social solidarity. It is inspired by war tax resistance, which for years has successfully operated in Spain, and extends this to other budget items that we also consider unjust.
We call for complete tax resistance to the State in order to redirect the taxes to a budget autonomously managed by local, grassroots collectives, much more deserving of sovereignty than the government institutions that force subjection on the population.
Where is the money redirected?
The redirected money promotes work for peace, social justice, cooperative development, environmental improvement, human rights, the support of transformative struggles in other nations, etc.
With this money projects are able to be continue working for a more just and equitable society. These are the redirection alternatives: any collective or organization that works in a non-hierarchical form for a more just society.
Grassroots collectives and non-profit organizations such as associations, ecological groups, cooperatives, cultural associations, etc., that are not directly liked to the Administration or to partisan politics.
As the crisis becomes more acute, people are becoming more and more familiar with economic concepts. Debt, risk premium, liquidity, and one word in particular: cuts.
The government scissors, held by capital on both handles, inside and out, seem to have no restraint. The various government branches, whatever party they belong to, cut spending here and there. Sectors as sensitive as health care, primary education, or pensions are tapped.
“When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.” — Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of
Tax resistance is, in reality, an assertion of the right of rebellion, to disobey on behalf of the common good in the face of situations like those in which we are living.
We are committed to the common good, and for that reason, we declare ourselves rebels against the Constitution, unsubmissive to the State, and disobedient to all of the authority that it represents.
Tax resistance was one of the strategies of civil disobedience that led India to independence from the British Empire; now it may be a key strategy for us to gain independence from global capitalism.
How is it done?
Here follows a technical discussion of how to use the electronic filing system used in Spain to apply for a refund of taxes by filling in an amount “for tax resistance” for a miscellaneous-withholding line-item.
Then it is reiterated that anyone can object in this way, regardless of their employment situation or whether or not they will owe taxes on their return. People are encouraged to decide for themselves how much to resist and redirect: perhaps as little as €1, or an amount like €890.87 which represents the amount of military spending per capita in Spain.
“In any case, tax resistance is, above all, a public and collective action of denouncing the injustice of the economic system, and a challenge to society. The act of resisting is much more important than the quantity resisted; therefore, any amount, however small, is valid.”
If the Treasury rejects my resistance, what can I do?
Occasionally, the Treasury will not give up the money reclaimed or demands what it was not paid on returns that demand refunds. It might be the case this year that the Treasury will not audit us, and the next year it will. Or the other way around (just because they don’t allow our resistance one year is no reason to be discouraged to try it again next year). The Treasury could even try to reclaim from us the amounts we haven’t paid or that — in their opinion — they have over-refunded to us during various years. In such cases, you should be aware that the Treasury cannot reclaim anything that is more than four years old.
For this reason, and particularly for tax resisters who resist significant amounts each year, the alternative destinations that receive the redirected money must provide escrow accounts in which they keep at least a portion of those funds during those four years.
The provisional or parallel returns (when the Treasury detects the resistance and reclaims the redirected money) may be appealed, and this does not involve any fees or expenses (sometimes one of those recourses is effective).
Given that, it is best to continue to rely only on people who, supported by personally-known groups, want to conduct a campaign of denouncing undesirable government spending.
What sanctions do I risk?
Once the provisional or parallel return is confirmed, if we don’t pay what they demand of us, the administration may attach interest to the amount starting from the filing deadline and continuing until the payment date.
This process is described in your tax return documentation; in no case is the tax resister accused of anything or receives any sanction. There will never be a criminal prosecution (a tax offense requires a larger “fraud” of more than 120,000 euros).
What if I cannot afford to repay the amount I redirected?
The worst that can happen if the Treasury detects your tax resistance is that you will be on the hook for double the amount: the money we redirect to the alternative destination and, if we are unlucky and the Treasury discovers us, we are required to repay the Treasury. In such a case, if we resist a small amount, redirecting only a quantity that we judge will not be a problem for our finances: 50 euros, 30, 10… so that, if the Treasury detects it and charges us a second time, it won’t break our bank. We will have added one more objection and with it our voice against these immoral, unuseful, and indesirable expenses.
It is also true that the Treasury may wait some years before revising our return, even after we have paid some amount in our tax return (with the amount of tax resistance withheld) or we have had some amount refunded (with the amount of tax resistance added).
The Treasury has a maximum of four years to reclaim from us what they call errors in our return, or unjustified figures, or whatever legal terminology that occurs to them to reject our position of tax resistance.
What can we do in such cases? There are distinct possibilities: the escrow accounts mentioned earlier, or simply asking whoever you redirected your taxes to for a refund, if the redirector cannot cope with the demands of the Treasury, depending on the quantities involved and the personal situations of the resisters, and keeping in mind that four year statute of limitations.
A Tax Resistance Fund is necessary as a common tool for everyone who participates in a campaign of tax resistance. A common fund to cover costs that may hit any person or collective that participates in this tax resistance campaign, because of the consequences of the possible acts of the Treasury against tax resisters.
In the Alternatives to the System section, there are some new paragraphs:
The economic relations that exist in the autonomous economic system (SEA) form part of the theory of the social and solidarity economy. The SEA has the objective of developing and providing an economic framework to serve the people, that satisfies their needs, by means of economic empowerment and collaboration.
Social currency represents and/or substitutes for an exchange relationship between two people, created after offering something and not receiving equivalent compensation at the same time. It does not represent a debt so much as an agreement, or rather a confidence that serves us to close the circuit of exchange, receiving that which we want or need. Thus, money vanishes, flows, and allows for multi-reciprocal exchanges and puts into circulation new products and services.
For this reason there must be tools designed that encourage a space for exchanges (internet platforms) and that facilitate the extension of exchange as a modus vivendi.
It’s important to pay attention so that the criteria of valuation do not devolve into relations of exploitation or fraud that could affect the confidence of people. In this sense, the personal dimension of the process of exchange transcends the buyer/seller relationship. A reciprocal, supportive, or exchange valuation can apply the same hourly rate.
Integrated cooperatives like the ecoxarxes form part of the same autonomous economic system, and all of the money (each ecoxarxa has its own currency) are interrelated and are reciprocally exchangable.
Lastly, the integrated cooperative is a point of reference and coordination from which collaborative and collective means are generated such that any of the previously-mentioned processes may be chosen and used, from legal tools (cooperatives) to telematic or internet tools, and, especially, forms and plans of action to strengthen self-reliance and self-organization.