Frugal Living as a Form of Tax Resistance

I wrote a guest article for the Frugal For Life blog on Frugal Living as a Form of Tax Resistance:

Since I adopted a frugal lifestyle , of all the dumb, harmful, and worthless things I don’t miss wasting my money on, I don’t miss the war in Iraq the most.

, I quit my job and deliberately reduced my income to the point where I no longer owe federal income tax. I transformed my life, concentrating on what really matters, so that I can live within my means without paying this tax — honestly, peacefully, and legally.

American households have, on average, spent more than $4,500 apiece on the Iraq war so far — that doesn’t count the expenses we’ll continue to be racking up for veterans’ care and the cost of the ongoing occupation. And that’s just the extra costs of that war above and beyond what we spend to keep the world’s most gargantuan military going year after year (another $6,800 per year per household).

By and large, these households spend this money whether they want to or not because they don’t think we have a choice. At most, they grumble about “death and taxes” and wish the politicians were nobler and wiser while they watch their paychecks get whittled down by the IRS.

The times call for more than complaining and wishful thinking. We have to put as much of our effort as we can on the side of our values, instead of allowing so much of our effort to be stolen by the tax collector and used to promote the values of politicians and the military/industrial complex.

As it says in Your Money Or Your Life, “when we go to our jobs we are trading our life energy for money.” When we pay taxes, the government takes our life energy from us. If you live frugally on a low income, the IRS takes less from you — so you can dedicate more to your own priorities.

About two-in-five American households already live “under the tax line” and pay no federal income tax at all. Opponents of the Iraq war, and other people who know they can spend their money more wisely and justly than the government does, would be wise to ask if they should endeavor to become part of this two-in-five.

There’s a long history of frugality being used by groups opposed to government policy — including the American “Founding Fathers.” , John Adams wrote home to his wife, “Frugality, my Dear, Frugality, Œconomy, Parsimony must be our Refuge. I hope the Ladies are every day diminishing their ornaments, and the Gentlemen too. Let us Eat Potatoes and drink Water. Let us wear Canvass, and undressed Sheepskins, rather than submit to the unrighteous, and ignominious Domination that is prepared for Us.”

Even if it’s not time for another American Revolution just yet, it’s certainly time for more Americans to put their money, and their life energy, where their hearts are.

Comments to the post have ranged from interested to indignant, which is a good sign that my argument reached beyond the choir.