War Tax Resisters in the News as Tax Day Approaches
Lots of tax resistance in the news as approaches:
“Democracy Now” radio show
features Ruth Benn of
and Pamela Schwartz of the National
Priorities Project, talking about the cost of war and how to stop buying
it. (This segment starts at 28:45, if you download the audio, or
discusses the phone tax and its recent partial repeal, the history of war tax
resistance and of her own resistance, and how the government typically
responds to resisters (including an update on the imprisoned tax resisters
from the Restored Israel of Yahweh group).
The National Priorities Project has
of how much of your tax bill feeds
machine. They use a different methodology from that used by the War
Resisters League in their pie chart, so they come up with different numbers.
If you’re curious, read the fine print.
Kennedy, 59, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, has not paid a
full federal tax bill as
his way to protest war and object to the billions of dollars spent by the
U.S. government on
“It’s a valid moral stance,” said Kennedy, a former Santa Cruz mayor. “To me,
it’s not just an extraordinary waste of resources, but withholding taxes is
part of the effort to build a more humane world community. We’re happy to pay
taxes for a good purpose.”
If you’ve ever been tempted by those “show me the law” tax protester types to
actually show them the law, you’ll find it in
Title 26 of the
One provision of a subchapter of a chapter of a subtitle of that title is a
definitions section that includes this tidbit:
For purposes of this chapter—
State The term “State” includes the District of Columbia, the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American
United States The term “United States” when used in a geographical
sense includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam,
and American Samoa.
An individual who is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (but not
otherwise a citizen of the United States) shall be considered, for purposes
of this section, as a citizen of the United States.
To anyone who is neither a tax protester nor a garden variety moron, this
indicates that for the purposes of that chapter of the tax code, Puerto Rico,
Guam and the like are treated as if they were states just like Ohio
and Alabama. It would be like saying “for the purposes of alphabetizing this
Spanish word list, the alphabet includes Ñ and LL” or “for the purposes of
counting calories, ‘food’ includes beverages and condiments.”
To a tax protester, however, this section of the law is where the federal
government formally admits that for the purposes of the tax code, the word
“state” is used perversely only to refer to those
that aren’t states. Ergo, if you live in an actual state, the code
doesn’t apply to you.
For an example of such logic at work, see
comment a few days back.
I remember going through a phase like this early in adolescence. My parents
would say “you’re grounded — I don’t want you to take one step out that door”
and so I would leave by the window instead, and then get indignant when they
punished me further for disobeying. Or, “you are not to eat a single cookie
before dinner young man,” so I’d eat two. Genius. And yet: stupid.
But that’s okay, because when you’re a schoolboy, you’ve still got a lot to
learn about which forms of cleverness are actually smart and which are just
complicated varieties of stupid. I grew up, and left that variety of sophistry
behind. I wonder what developmental psychology pathology keeps the tax
protesters at it year after year.
It’s one thing when Alberto Gonzales uses such thinking to define torture out
of existence — after all, as disingenuous as he is, he at least has actual
authority in the legal system — when he manipulates the controls of the
machine he’s at least doing so from the driver’s seat. The poor tax
protesters, though, come into court armed with their magic spells and wishful
thinking and expect to drive the car while crushed under the tires or smashed
like a bug in the radiator grill.