War Tax Resisters Charley Hurst and Maria Smith

Tax resisters Charley Hurst and Maria Smith are profiled in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

, when they married, they have resisted paying the United States what they and others call war taxes; Hurst has done so .

They accept the punishment the Internal Revenue Service deals out, including fines, interest and the garnishment of Smith’s wages as a lawyer (though not the pay of Hurst, a minister whom the IRS considers to be self-employed).

Following this is a remarkably superficial discussion of the academic ethics of war tax resistance which reaffirms my unhappy belief that people who call themselves “ethicists” rarely have anything useful to say. Then, more about Hurst & Smith:

Smith, 46, is a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which provides free legal help to low-income clients. Hurst, 54, is the pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Cleveland and also counsels clients at 2100 Lakeside Emergency Shelter for Men, which serves as many as 550 homeless people a night.

Following a years-long struggle with the IRS and garnishment of Smith’s wages, the couple has had to pay more than $18,000 in back taxes, interest and fines.

They hold title to no real estate (which would be subject to government seizure), so Hurst, Smith and Alexander make their home in a modest apartment on the near West Side.

“When we file, we’ve always included a letter explaining that we don’t object to paying taxes,” Hurst says, “just the part that goes to the military.”

What they won’t pay the IRS they give to peace and human-welfare charities, among them the Mennonite Central Committee, Food First and the American Friends Service Committee.

“I am a war tax resister because my own struggle with how Christ calls me to make concrete my faith leaves me no choice.” ―Charles Hurst

If you’ve been eager to oppose the war, but you can’t stomach the left-wing rhetoric that comes with the package in most opposition groups, you might want to check out The Antiwar League. It has a narrow focus on stopping the war in Iraq, going after those responsible for it, and preventing future adventures of that sort.