Common Sense Tax Consultants: Tax Preparers for Resisters

This Boston Phoenix article is given as it was broadcast over Liberation News Service on :

Common Sense Tax Consultants

A Boston Area War Tax Resister’s Answer to H&R Block

by Susan Phillips

 — Since , the Common Sense Tax Consultants has been open for Boston Area people who no longer want to pay for war or who cannot afford to use a commercial tax service. Located in Cambridge, Mass., the service is run by members of the Roxbury War Tax Scholarship Fund (RWTSF) who have been trained as tax consultants.

Unlike other services which have a basic rate plus an extra fee for additional forms used, Common Sense bases its rates on the client’s ability to pay. Of course, extra contributions to help make up for those who cannot afford the fee are always welcome.

There is no charge for war tax resisters. Consultants at Common Sense do not pressure people to refuse to pay taxes, but they have information about tax resistance and are willing to help with legal, political, or moral questions about resistance.

One of the books available at Common Sense is Robert Calvert’s Ain’t Gonna Pay for War No More, which contains short selections from the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions of , and the Hague Conventions of pointing out the United States’ violations in Southeast Asia.

By following these international regulations, many resisters have claimed Vietnamese citizens as exemptions or have asked for war crimes refunds. One counselor at Common Sense who applied for a war crimes refund last year said that she might get the money back although she doubted it. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sent her several computerized letters apologizing for the lateness of her refund.

Tax money does add up to make war possible. Figures available from Common Sense, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, and the American Friends Service Committee show that 60% of federal taxes go to Defense spending — 42% for military expenditures and 18% for the cost of past wars (6% for veterans benefits and 12% for interest on the national debt caused by war).

And the recent “cease-fire” in Vietnam will not change the priority in spending. Nixon’s Defense Department budget for is up $4.2 billion to a staggering overall budget of $79 billion.

“We have no plans to ‘convert’ our $1 billion annual defense sales to peacetime production,” said a General Electric corporate executive spokesman in their Stockholders Report. “I think the defense of the free world and the United States is a paramount social issue in this country.”

GE is one of the top ten military contractors in the U.S.

The military collects money in other taxes too. The telephone excise tax was first enacted in as a temporary tax. Eventually cut to 3%, it was about to be discontinued in when the extra money was needed to pay for the escalation of the war in Indochina.

Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, state in the Congressional Record that “it is clear that Vietnam and only the Vietnam operations makes this bill necessary.”

It is impossible for the present 10% telephone excise tax to be directly channeled into the military. Instead, it is put into the general budget where 60% of it then goes to the Defense Department.

Having gone through a series of both “straight” and resistance tax training sessions, volunteers at Common Sense are aware of these facts and of the complicated details of filing returns. The novice workers refer people to one of the experts for difficult calculations.

“Actually the training of consultants at other tax services is no more extensive than at Common Sense,” said one volunteer. “We’re just as qualified.”

Common Sense is a project of the Roxbury War Tax Scholarship Fund. The Fund has an account in the Unity Bank of Roxbury, Mass., where resisters can keep their tax money in escrow. If and when a personal bank account is seized for back taxes, the resister can withdraw the same sum from the Unity Bank.

Interest on the fund’s account is used as a community alternative fund by directing it to socially productive functions. In April and October of each year, members of the Fund decide collectively where to award the money. $400 each was given to the Vietnam Resource Center in Cambridge and to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War-Gainseville Defense Fund.

The group also has a bail fund which includes about one fourth of their total account in the Unity Bank. Some members are in contact with prison groups to find individuals who need bail money; this money is also available for tax resisters.

Throughout the country there are 192 war tax resistance centers and 40 alternative funds set up with unpaid taxes. For more information on how to set up a tax service, write to Common Sense Tax Consultants at 552 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, Mass. Or call…

Common Sense plans to stay open at least until , and may stay open longer if the need continues.