Another Letter from the I.R.S.

I got another letter from the IRS, which finally noticed I’d neglected to include a check for the taxes due when I filed my tax return.

The $5,007 in taxes due came from the self-employment tax, not the income tax. To this, the agency has added a $25.03 “Failure-to-pay penalty” and $13.15 in “Interest charges”. The letter also includes some information about how these amounts were calculated and how they’ll continue to accrue. Included with the letter was also a copy of the increasingly laughable “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”

Some other tabs I’ve opened in recent weeks:

  • Some Tax Day Reflections from Bryan Caplan, from back when he was a grad student (he’s now a professor of economics at George Mason University). Excerpt:

    Morally, taxation is unjust; practically, it is unnecessary. Yet taxation is unlikely to disappear in the near future; so what is the right thing to do in the meanwhile? Thoreau’s advice is again sound: “It is not a man’s duty’s to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.” Which means: Don’t work for the IRS, never support higher taxes on anything, and never let anyone pretend that you pay taxes of your own free will. Taxation is always theft, and the more people hear this insight repeated, the sooner they’ll see taxation for what it is.

  • The war tax resistance campaign has kicked into high gear in Spain. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Jesús Paz of the Mambrú Antimilitarist Collective:
    What is tax resistance?
    It isn’t a model regulated by the Treasury, but a campaign of civil disobedience that has been practiced for more than thirty years in countries like Spain, the U.S., Canada, Holland, Germany, France, or Italy. Simply, it is the use of the tax return as a tool for redirecting to socially useful purposes the portion of military spending from each citizen. Antimilitarist Alternative coordinates a state-wide campaign to help the maximum number of people to participate. We collect data from various peace research centers and we compose a study that adds the Defense Ministry budget to the spending on other armed forces and also other items that are dispersed by other ministries, such as credits to arms companies for so-called research & development of a military character. These credits, in reality, have ended up financing the arms industry, generating along the way €27,000 million in debt. We also include spending that, in our view, tends to a more militarized society: for example, a large part of the prison population is there because the system does not facilitate social integration. So, with all of the global military spending and spending on state repression and social control, we calculate that the military spending per person is greater than €700 this year. In any case, we make it clear that the objective is not to object to a particular amount, but that people take this step of disobedience and demonstrate that we are not going along with this. From conscience, acting collectively, it is an organized political campaign of disobedience. We also make it clear that this is not a campaign for paying less to the Treasury: the tax resister pays exactly the same tax the Treasury asks for, but a part of this money is not allocated to military spending, but to a social project.
    Have any cases of war tax resistance reached the court system?
    We don’t put much stock in the legal process; recognition of the right to tax resistance has already been rejected on two or three occasions in various instances. The philosophy of the vast majority of campaign groups is not to search for a legal body to give us a legal right; it is fundamentally a protest campaign. That said, there is one unusual judgment from the Supreme Court of Catalonia concerning the tax resistance of representative Joan Surroca of the PSC: although the Court rejected the right to tax resistance, it also declared it illegal for the Treasury to fine Surroca for something where he could not be considered to have committed fraud, that is, the intent to conceal money. We consider this a small victory that the Court recognizes that it is not simply an individual matter or a scheme to pay less. There is a space for someone who does not do what the Treasury orders, but who does so in a public way, without concealment.
  • War tax resistance groups in Catalonia are redirecting their taxes to groups that are trying to ameliorate the refugee crisis.
  • “Divest from Pentagon, invest in people,” headlines the People’s World in their article about a war tax resistance demonstration in San Diego. The resisters there redirected $6,000 in federal taxes from the Pentagon, including a donation to an organization that is trying to build tiny, affordable homes for the homeless. One of these homes was wheeled to the outdoor redirection ceremony to give it some extra splash.
  • Raul Perez is going to try to figure out some new angle to get the U.S. courts to recognize a right to conscientious objection to military taxation. He also wants to make a documentary film about the process.
  • Erica Weiland, at NWTRCC’s blog, makes note of some recent war tax resistance demonstrations.
  • “Is it immoral to evade taxes?” asks a columnist for Tiempo Digital of Honduras. He reviews some of the historical tax resistance campaigns in the service of justice, and then asks: “Can we in Honduras feel morally comfortable and have clear consciences while paying taxes?” Citing corruption, the bulk of government spending compared to national gross domestic product, and the abysmal lack of security and legal protection for citizens, he concludes that Honduran citizens do not owe allegiance or tax to the government.
  • Finally, here’s Joan Baez dedicating a song to the IRS: