Spaniards Encouraged to Refuse to Pay for National Debt

A bit more about the contemporary Spanish tax resistance movements:

They Encourage Objection on the Tax Return

A campaign promotes tax resistance against the Spanish debt

With fertile soil in the cuts in public services and the long shadow of the economic bailout, a campaign of fiscal rebellion by means of not paying the national debt and other expenses in the tax return is falling like an April shower among the “indignants” — a proposed “mass civil disobedience” that, as its promoters explain, consists of “redirecting taxes to autonomously funded local popular assemblies, such as have emerged in many populations in the wake of 15-M.” But how?

As was explained to the El Confidencial by volunteers and advisors of the office of economic disobedience recently opened in Madrid, which have clones in Barcelona, Castellón, and Zaragoza, it is “a proposal inspired by war tax resistance, which has for years been working with success, taking this action with 6% of the taxes that correspond to military spending. So, in this case, it would increase the percentage by adding other items that we also consider unjust,” principally the payment of the national debt and interest, which exceed 20% of the income tax, according to their calculations. “The interest expense and amortization of debt will be about 25% of the budget, while health, education, and culture together do not reach half of that amount,” they lament from the Madrid office.

The items proposed are the amount for the national debt (14.58% from amortization and 8.48 from interest), defense (2.21%), national police, national guard, payments for the monarchy, senate, prisons, and church. Luis Torres, a 15-M activist, is one of those who have decided to sign on to this new protest. “I do not want a part of my tax to go to a number of items with which I do not agree, such as military spending or the illegitimate Spanish debt and the interest associated with it.” Maite Blasco, also a 15-M activist, intends to become a tax resister because “I do not agree with sending my taxes to pay for the national debt while dismantling health and education. Instead, I prefer to finance with my money relevant projects that can transform this world.”

The destiny of undeclared taxes

The tax resisters will file their tax returns while withholding the percent of such payments, or filing for refunds of money for “all of those things that you do not agree with paying for with your taxes.” Every resister will add this money in the account of a social project or group of his or her choice, specifying it on the tax return and attaching the receipt as “income from tax resistance 2012.” The advisors from the fiscal disobedience office are surprised at the great interest generated.

In the tax resistance manual, financed jointly by a crowdfunding platform, it is recommended to send your money to projects close at hand so that citizens can directly monitor their development.

In the web page where it has launched the initiative is recommended a list of related autonomous projects. The option chosen by both Luis Torres and Maite Blasco is to send 25% of their taxes to the Comprehensive Cooperative of Madrid. Both emphasize the capacity of this project to “cover all of the needs of people, economic and social, regardless of what happens in the capitalist State. Also, it is a good initiative that can salvage a portion of the population that is marginalized by the current economic system, parada y precrarizada [I don’t know how to translate that –♇]”

Legal Consequences

The advisors in the Madrid office at Number 8, General Lacy street (next week a second office will open at Embajadores street) do not hide their surprise at “the great interest that has been generated” and the numerous inquiries received during the past weeks, although it “is the first year that the campaign has launched.” The most frequent questions have to do, firstly, “with the legal risks involved and how to avoid them,” and, secondly, “with the process.”

The possibility of facing financial penalties and of repaying the amount “defrauded” is a possibility, but does not appear to intimidate the resisters. These are based on a judicial ruling in which was exempted the payment of interest on resisted military taxes on the grounds that “there was no intention to defraud, but to send this money to other projects,” explains one of the advisors who prefers to remain anonymous.

Maite Blasco, who says he is waiting to receive his income statement in order to begin his protest campaign, is conscious that “there may be penalties that the Treasury will return to claim the amount donated to social projects.” However, should this occur, he believes that it would not be so bad because “it will put the problem on the table and will make clear that the debt is not legitimate.”

Strategy: short, medium, and long term

Luis Torres paints two future scenarios after the end of the campaign. “If it is a minor thing and does not attract many people it will get swept under the rug, the Treasury will not make a big deal about it, and this money will succeed in financing many social causes. If on the other hand, the ball gets rolling and this becomes a bigger deal, not in this fiscal year but the next, public opinion will bring out the reasons why we do not want to cover these illegitimate expenses”

The information offices are conducting a census of tax resisters, but “as far as the first year we have made some mistakes and some people are reluctant to give their personal data,” say those responsible. In any case, they hope that each year the number of tax resisters will grow and that “the locals will be open all year ’round and not only during the campaign, in order to inform people and to continue raising consciousness.”

The stated objective in the medium-term would be that “the State does not pay to satisfy and fatten the business of banks and other financial speculators, more money than that which they have seen themselves ‘forced’ to cut from various budget items.” While with these and other actions they intend to generate, in the long term, a transition to a “social empowerment in the face of the predatory capitalist model in which we live.”