Tax Resistance in the U.S., Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Spain

Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • According to a Government Accountability Office report, people filing phoney tax refund claims by using appropriated identities stole $5.2 billion from the IRS during the . (An additional $24.2 billion in such refund claims were detected before the IRS sent any money.) To put that into perspective, $5 billion is roughly the amount of money that was in the entire IRS enforcement budget (before recent cuts, anyway). Which is to say that nowadays the government pays more to organized tax cheats than it pays to combat tax cheats. The identity theft industry is a significant (and growing) part of the federal budget.
  • When the Syriza coalition looked like it was on track for a shocking victory in the Greek elections, people across Greece stopped paying their taxes. After all, Syriza had campaigned in part on the abolition of some new taxes, and had hitched its wagon to the “won’t pay” tax resistance movement. Well, now that they’re in power, they’re more apt to be caught talking about tax-paying as a “patriotic duty,” but the Greeks don’t seem to agree: tax collection is down by 23% from expectations.
  • An Italian priest, Don Marino Ruggero, has been making waves by promoting tax resistance to his flock. In his parish bulletin he wrote: “Catholic doctrine notes that there are fair taxes that are to be paid under pain of mortal sin and of the penal law, unfair taxes that you may evade without sin and without offense, and even perverse taxes that are contrary to the divine law and that shold not be paid even if you have to risk your life.” He says he feels that the tax burden has become so grotesque in Italy that the taxes are no longer fair enough to be obligatory to Christians: “I wonder if it is better to pay utility bills and taxes and then have to go begging for charity. When a family sinks into despair because they have nothing to eat, one has to decide. I call for a tax strike. Yes, a peaceful revolution, in which it would be enough that everyone fearlessly stop paying any tax, with a single purpose: to undermine an out-of-control ‘meat grinder’ tax system. Gandhi said: ‘Withholding payment of taxes is one of the quickest methods of overthrowing a government.’ He and his people, they got it.”
  • Thirty thousand people marched in Dublin to protest an impending Irish water tax. Some 660,000 Irish households had refused to register for the new tax by the registration deadline.
  • Colectivo Utopía Contagiosa has issued its impressive annual report on the amount and the impact of Spanish military spending which is used, in part, as a basis for the practice of many war tax resisters in Spain.

From the Ogden, Utah Standard-Examiner for :

Suffragist Refuses To Pay Tax; Goods Sold

 — [For] the fourth consecutive year Mrs. William Eldon Tucker, head of the Women’s Suffrage Society of Bermuda, has refused to pay her taxes because Bermudian women are not permitted to vote.

Her property, is assessed at several thousand pounds. Each year her goods and chattels have been put up for public auction to satisfy tax claims, and each year a fellow suffragist has bid in enough of them to pay the taxes, then restored the goods to her. This year Mrs. Frances S. Hubbard of Boston bought two antique chairs at the auction for ten pounds, more than enough to pay the back taxes.

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