Get Yourself a Peace: War Tax Resistance in 1970

Get Yourself a Peace. Seventy cents of every 1969 tax dollar went to pay for the costs of America’s past wars and the War in Vietnam. You spend $400 yearly on the Vietnam War. Where was your peace, and how can you go about getting it? Tax resistance is what some people have decided to do for peace. They have kept the 10% Federal Tax on telephone bills. All of this tax is allocated to War costs. Customers who have refused to pay, and submitted a written explanation to the telephone company, have not had their service discontinued. Telephone officials simply forward these messages to Internal Revenue. Others have declined to pay the 10% surtax, all of which was levied in 1968 to pay war costs. And a few people have withheld the percentage of their tax that supports the Defense Establishment. These funds, placed in an escrow account, generate income used to promote and support human resource projects. The time has come for you to get a peace. A form of tax resistance could get you a big one. For more detailed information, contact: Boston War Tax Resistance…

from the edition of Cycle

The edition of Cycle, a student paper from Fitchburg (Massachusetts) State College, gives us a good peek into the rhetoric and tactics of the war tax resistance movement at that time:

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bill this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure as it would be to pay them and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.

Henry David Thoreau

A Call to War Tax Resistance

In , the United States government spend $103 billion to pay for present and past wars and to be prepared in case of future wars. This was 66% of the entire federal budget of $156 billion. One hundred and three billion dollars exceeds the gross national product of all but six nations.

Of this $103,198,100,000, $29 billion was spent on the Vietnam war, to continue a conflict whose brutality, immorality, and illegality have sickened most Americans and the vast majority of the people of the world. Already, this war has brought death to more than 42,000 Americans and more than two million Vietnamese. It is a spur to the arms race and continually threatens world peace.

Almost $20 billion will be invested this fiscal year in making more frightful our nuclear missile and bomber arsenal, weapons already so destructive that they can deliver ten tons of explosive power for every person on the globe.

$330 million will be spent on chemical and biological weapons that are polluting the environment and endangering the people in the United States and other countries without even being used; simply by being improperly stored.

$7.5 billion will go toward research on new and yet more fearful weapons.

$1.2 billion has been authorized for the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system in .

$500 million to $1 billion is the estimated budget of the CIA.

Vast sums will be paid to the corporations and research institutes that design and build the weapons. In , the following companies, a handful of the biggest among thousands engaged in war production and research, enjoyed these military contracts:

General Dynamics$2.2 billion
Lockheed Aircraft$1.8 billion
General Electric$1.4 billion
United Aircraft$1.3 billion
McDonnell-Douglas$1.1 billion
AT&T$777 million

The following amounts were spent in for projects that seem to have little to do with primary human needs:

For moon and other space exploration $3.4 billion.

For farm subsidies to wealthy landowners $3.1 billion.

In comparison to the enormous expenditures for acts and instruments of military violence, luxury space programs, and subsidies to the wealthy, and at a time when city governments are crying for more funds, the United States government spent these sums on improving the health, education, and general welfare of the people within this country.

Slum rebuilding $1.9 billion.

Other poverty programs $7.2 billion.

Health programs $1.8 billion.

Educational programs and subsidies $3.7 billion.

Direct, nonmilitary foreign aid to underdeveloped countries totaled about $1.6 billion.

The U.S. appropriation to the United Nations was $109 million, about the cost of one Polaris submarine.

In , the total of all non-military expenditure was approximately 34% of the military expenses.

Throughout the United States, young people by the hundreds of thousands are rebelling in disgust and anger against this squandering of resources on war, and neglect of the day-to-day practical needs of the people. They are not alone in seeing only massive social disruption and probably nuclear war as eventual consequences. They are risking their freedom, careers, and often their lives to protest and resist what they see to be wrong.

In the face of this shameful and alarming situation and in solidarity with the youth resisting it, we, as participants in War Tax Resistance, are resolved to confront our own complicity in war, waste, and callousness. We resolve to end to the extent we can our cooperation in a federal tax program geared to death more than life. The least measure of our resistance will be not to pay voluntarily $5 of federal taxes due.

We are prepared to bear the consequences of our actions, be these criticism and unpopularity, financial penalties, confiscation of our bank accounts and property, and, perhaps, imprisonment. These seem to us small inconveniences beside the agony of those killed or bereft by war, and the numb hopelessness of those crippled by poverty.

We invite all Americans to join us in some form of tax refusal. War tax resistance is not always easy, particularly for those whose taxes are withheld from their wages, but for most there is some variety of tax refusal that they can conscientiously adopt. It may be by not paying part or all of a balance “owed,” or by not paying federal telephone tax. War Tax Resistance has prepared literature and is setting up counseling services designed to help each individual find the best way of tax refusal and resistance for him. A list of Methods of War Tax Resistance follows this statement of purpose.

We also are developing a war tax resistance promotional program that will include advertisements, demonstrations, meetings, a bulletin, and other literature distribution. If you become a war tax resister, we hope you will allow yourself to be publicly identified with the movement and permit your name to be used on tax resistance literature.

War Tax Resistance will do more than concentrate on the weeks just before April 15. We are planning a year round educational and resistance program. If you agree with conscientious tax resistance as a means for opposing war, we hope you will communicate with us now. The included coupon is for your convenience.

Methods of Refusal

Refuse to pay at least $5 of your tax
The first goal of War Tax Resistance is to convince as many people as possible to refuse at least $5 of some tax owed the government. Nearly everyone can do this by refusing their federal telephone tax or part of their income tax. If hundreds of thousands refuse to pay $5, they will establish mass tax refusal. Besides having the burden of collecting the unpaid amounts, the government will be faced with the political fact of massive noncooperation with its warmaking policies.
Better yet, refuse to pay all the taxes you can
Even if some of your taxes are withheld, you can refuse to pay the balance and other taxes. These might include: taxes on additional income, the 10% surtax, and the telephone tax.
You can refuse to pay that percentage of your tax that goes for war
Two thirds or more of the federal budget pays for wars past, present, and future. To protest against war, a person can refuse that percentage of his tax. He can base his refusal on the percentage of the total national budget used for war, on the cost of the war in Vietnam, or on other calculations. Some people pay part of their tax and contribute the rest as a peace tax. Some give to the UN, or a relief agency, or some other organization engaged in peaceful, constructive work.
You can refuse to pay the 10% surtax
This surtax was imposed in to help pay for the war in Vietnam. Refusing to pay it is a direct protest against the war.
You can refuse to pay the federal telephone tax
The federal telephone tax was revived in to help pay for the war. Thousands are already not paying it. In all cases known to us but one, the telephone companies have continued service and referred the tax collection to IRS.

To Reduce or Eliminate the Withholding of Your Taxes You Can

Claim additional dependents

If you claim a sufficient number of dependents on your W-4 form you can reduce the amount of taxes withheld from your salary to zero. The law reads that a dependent has to live in your household and be supported by you. The fact is that many people, particularly draft age young men and the Vietnamese, depend on you. So long as you declare at the end of the year that by the government’s standards you owe so much and are refusing to pay it, the moral point is made

The law reads that it is illegal — fraudulent — to state on a tax form that someone claimed as a dependent falls within that category, as defined by the IRS, when he does not. But no fraud appears to be involved if the people claimed as dependents are identified as being outside the IRS categories. The issue has not been tested in the courts.

Make your employer an ally
Although the law reads that it is illegal not to withhold taxes from an employee’s wages, your employer may be sympathetic to your protest and be willing to assist — and make a protest of his own — by not withholding from your salary. It is always valuable to raise the question.
Organize an employment agency
Have your agency hire you and then have your present employer hire the agency to supply him with you. Naturally, an agency that you control will not withhold taxes from its employees. Getting organized is complicated, but if you and a few friends get together you can work out the problem. Write us for information.

Also You Can

Demand a refund
There are four ways to do this:
  1. You may request a refund right on the 1040 form and stand a good chance of receiving it. Ask for a tax credit on Part Ⅴ of the form.
  2. You may file form 843 for a refund.
  3. If the above demands are refused, go to the Income Tax Board of Appeals. If the Board turns you down, sue.
  4. You can also sue the government to refund all your taxes on the grounds that the taxes have been used for illegal and immoral purposes.
Protest by letter or in person
Any protest to IRS or other government officials will help express opposition to the war and to militarism. If you are unable to refuse taxes, protest them as vigorously as you can.

Maximize the Impact

Talk about your tax refusal with friends, neighbors, co-workers. This sort of direct contact changes many minds. Distribute tax refusal literature.

Inform the newspapers and other mass media in your neighborhood that you are resisting war taxes and why. Start a war tax resistance group in your community.

Organize or join demonstrations at your local IRS office.

Inform yourself thoroughly and become a tax refusal counselor. Let your community know through ads, leaflets, etc. that a counseling service is available.

Keep the War Tax Resistance Clearinghouse informed by writing or phoning about your activities. Communication is the lifeblood of any movement.

We invite war tax resisters to send War Tax Resistance the first $5 or more refused the federal government. This money will be used to publicize and expand the war tax resistance movement.

Until now, the government has not imprisoned anyone for conscientious tax refusal. A few have been given short sentences for refusing to reveal information about their incomes. In general, the IRS has been content to take money from tax refusers’ bank accounts, garnishee part of their wages, or, on rare occasions, seize and auction property.

Sponsors of War Tax Resistance

  • Winslow Ames
  • Joan Baez
  • Norma Becker
  • James Bristol
  • Prof. Noam Chomsky
  • Prof. Frank Collins
  • Tom Cornell
  • Prof. William Davidon
  • Dorothy Day
  • Dave Dellinger
  • Barbara Deming
  • Ralph DiGia
  • Prof. Douglas Dowd
  • Prof. Margaret Eberbach
  • Ruth Gage-Colby
  • Allen Ginsberg
  • Bob Haskell
  • James Leo Herlihy
  • Faye Knopp
  • Kennett Love
  • David McReynolds
  • Stewart and Charlotte Meacham
  • Rev. and Mrs. Arthur G. Melville
  • Karl Meyer
  • Jack Newfield
  • Grace Paley
  • Igal Roodenko
  • Rev. Finley Schaef
  • Dr. Benjamin Spock
  • Marj and Bob Swann
  • Arthur Waskow
  • George and Lillian Willoughby
  • Irma Zigas

Working Committee (in formation)

  • Norma Becker
  • Maris Cakars
  • Frank Collins
  • John Darr
  • Jerry Dickinson
  • Ralph DiGia
  • Bob Haskell
  • Neil Haworth
  • Peter Kiger
  • Kennett Love
  • Bradford Lyttle
  • Mark Morris
  • Christopher Pollock
  • Melinda Reed
  • Kay Van Deurs
  • Eric Weinberger
War Tax Resistance, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, N.Y. 10012, Phone (212) 228-0450. ☐ I would like to join War Tax Resistance. ☐ I am not ready to join W.T.R., but please place me on your mailing list. ☐ Please send me more information about the following methods of war tax resistance: (blank) ☐ Pleas send me (blank) additional copies of A Call to War Tax Resistance (6 for 25¢; 30 for $1). ☐ I am already resisting war taxes (on a separate sheet please list the taxes you have not paid, since which year, the consequences to date, and any other pertinent information). ☐ You may use my name in publicizing W.T.R. ☐ I am interested in becoming a W.T.R. counselor; please send me more information. Enclosed is $(blank) to support the work of W.T.R. Please send copies of this Call to the attached list of people. Name (blank), Address (blank), Telephone (blank)