With the anti-war movement in the doldrums and with many activists staring
dumbly into the headlights of the presidential election, it’s a pleasant
surprise to see that there’s a lot of fervent interest in war tax resistance.
Indeed, with Code Pink’s “Don’t Buy
Bush’s War” campaign and the new
“Pledge for Peace” from Christian
Peace Witness for Iraq, the war tax resistance movement is playing catch-up.
We’re no longer out in front trying to rally the troops: the troops have run
on ahead of us.
Steev Hise was
leading a small film crew at the workshop. He’s working on a war tax
resistance documentary (you can see
a promotional trailer for the
work-in-progress on-line). Afterwards, his crew came by my place to interview
me for the film.
For , retired social
worker and lifelong peace activist Esther Kisamore has received threatening
phone calls and letters from the Internal Revenue Service because she refuses
to pay federal income taxes and federal excise taxes on her telephone bills.
Lawyer Bill Durland and his wife, Genie, have appeared in tax court numerous
times since and
had their Social Security checks
garnished by the
Psychologist Donna Johnson had two houses seized and eventually returned.
The Colorado Springs residents were aware of such possible consequences when
they deliberately snubbed tax time — not to have extra money in their pockets
and not because they don’t believe the government should tax citizens.
They don’t want their taxes used to fund military spending and war efforts.
“It is an individual act of moral conscience,” [Peter] Haney said. “In
Colorado Springs close to 50 percent of our primary employment comes from
military bases and defense contractors, so we’re so reliant on the federal
dole, yet many of us have a frontier mentality to be independent and
Before Johnson reduced her income to below the taxable rate, she paid half
of what she owed in federal income taxes. Her first house was seized by the
nonpayment of the phone excise tax, about $7. She eventually got the house
and another one back, and the $200,000 she owed in taxes and liens on her
property were released after a statute of limitations ran out.
“You just stand up and say ‘I’m not willing to pay even though you threaten
me,’” Johnson said.
“Hawala is a money-transfer system based primarily in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, based on independent brokers who phone one another and say, ‘I’m holding so much money in such and such a currency, please transfer an equivalent sum in local funds to such and such a person.’ The settlements are based on the honor system, and by some accounts, the network has its origins in the Silk Road. The system functions even in places where the rule of law and other elements normally considered crucial to a a functional financial system have collapsed.”