Destroying the Apparatus of Taxation

I gave some examples of attacks directed at tax offices Today I’m going to give some further examples of attacks on the apparatus of taxation.

Parking meters and traffic cameras

  • There is a semi-organized movement in Chicago to make parking meters unusable through vandalism, including smashing them, disassembling them, making them unreadable with spray-paint, stuffing them with pennies, jamming them with glue or expanding foam, or removing them entirely.
  • Disabling speed-trap cameras has become almost a popular sport in the United States. I’ve seen video of people dressed up in Santa suits and temporarily disabling cameras by wrapping them in colorful gift boxes. Others have used everything from “sticky notes, Silly String, and even a pick-axe” to stop the cameras from taxing speeders. In Palmer Park, Maryland, recently, the authorities had to install a new set of surveillance cameras to keep an eye on their speed cameras because they were getting vandalized so frequently.


  • During of the Rebecca Riots in Wales, there were over a hundred attacks on toll-houses, toll-gates, and toll-bars. “During this period, all the gates and bars in the Whitland, Tivyside, and Brechfa Trusts were destroyed. Two gates only out of the twenty-one survived in the Three Commotts Trust, whilst between seventy and eighty gates out of about one hundred and twenty were destroyed in Carmarthenshire. Only nine were left standing out of twenty-two in Cardiganshire.” Here is one account:

    The secret was well kept, no sign of the time and place of the meditated descent was allowed to transpire. All was still and undisturbed in the vicinity of the doomed toll-gate, until a wild concert of horns and guns in the dead of night and the clatter of horses’ hoofs, announced to the startled toll-keeper his “occupation gone.” With soldier-like promptitude and decision, the work was commenced; no idle parleying, no irrelevant desire of plunder or revenge divided their attention or embroiled their proceedings. They came to destroy the turnpike and they did it as fast as saws, and pickaxes, and strong arms could accomplish the task.

    No elfish troop at their pranks of mischief ever worked so deftly beneath the moonlight; stroke after stroke was plied unceasingly, until in a space which might be reckoned by minutes from the time when the first wild notes of their rebel music had heralded the attack, the stalwart oak posts were sawn asunder at their base, the strong gate was in billets, and the substantial little dwelling, in which not half an hour before the collector and his family were quietly slumbering, had become a shapeless pile of stones or brick-bats at the wayside.

    When the Scleddy turnpike-gate was attacked, they “broke the gates, posts, walls, and toll-boards into pieces so small that in the morning there was not a piece of the timber larger than would make matches”
  • Toll-booth destruction was also part of the riots in Naples in : “the toll-booths throughout the town were demolished; the mob went from one gate to another. Everywhere the toll-gatherers had escaped — nobody thought of making any resistance…”
  • Toll-booth attacks are also a trademark of the current “won’t pay” movement in Greece. Resisters there have mobbed highway toll plazas, raising the bars and waving cars through.


  • Danny Burns reports that during the Poll Tax rebellion in Thatcher’s Britain, “In Lothian, it was widely reported that Anti-Poll Tax activists had managed to put a bug into the computer, which randomly wiped out every sixth record on the register. The virus story was never proven. However, a month before it was mentioned in the newspapers, its effects were accurately described to two Anti-Poll Tax activists by two computer hackers one of whom had worked for Lothian Regional Council and had been sacked.”
  • There are some examples in Hippolyte Taine’s history of the French Revolution:
    • “At Limoux, under the pretext of searching for grain, they enter the houses of the comptroller and tax contractors, carry off their registers, and throw them into the water along with the furniture of their clerks.”
    • In Anjou, the tax clerks’ horses are seized and sold at auction.
    • “In Touraine, ‘as the publication of the tax-rolls takes place, riots break out against the municipal authorities; they are forced to surrender the rolls they have drawn up, and their papers are torn up.’ ”
    • “In Creuse, at Clugnac, the moment the clerk begins to read the document, the women spring upon him, seize the tax-roll, and ‘tear it up with countless imprecations;’ ”
  • When the IRS seized tax resister Mary Cain’s newspaper, and put a chain and padlock on the front door, “Mrs. Cain sawed off the lock and chain and mailed them to the Internal Revenue Department with a defiant note.”
  • Whiskey Rebels were known to steal the records of tax collectors.
  • During the resistance in Missouri against taxes to pay off owners of corruptly-issued railroad bonds, “a gang of armed men rode into the county seat of Osceola and held tax officials at gunpoint while its members stole all the official tax records.”