In a proposal similar to the “comprehensive disobedience” movement that was pioneered by Spanish activists, a group in the United Kingdom has inaugurated a “Golden Rule Tax Disobedience” campaign. In their words:
The latest tax scandal is bringing the erosion of our democracy into ever sharper focus. Britain suffers under an enormous democratic deficit due to state capture by “free”-market neoliberal fundamentalism and its associated corporate and financial interests, in aggressive ascendancy . Notwithstanding the financial crisis, this capture of the state has remained unaddressed, with successive governments shamefully complicit in it. Despite copious corroborative research and endless petitioning and protesting, all we’ve seen is disingenuous hand-wringing and political evasion.
Our collusion with this apology for a “democracy” must stop. We, the citizenry, are therefore taking matters into our own hands — with a “Golden Rule Tax Disobedience” whose intention is grassroots mobilisation against systemic injustice, favouring far greater equality, shared and stable prosperity, enhanced quality of life and, most importantly, an environmentally sustainable future.
The evidential rationale for this action is overwhelming. Not least, £93bn of “corporate welfare” is given as handouts annually to businesses operating in our allegedly “free” market; and the government spends £26bn subsidising harmful fossil fuels, yet a mere £3.5bn subsidising renewables. “Free”-market fundamentalism has been an astonishing failure for the vast majority.
Our Golden Rule Tax Disobedience initiative asks citizens to withhold a small amount of tax (through VAT or their tax return — everyone can join in), and then donate it to conducive campaigning groups. This principled modelling of a redistributive ethos intends to shame our politicians into taking effective action.
Principled tax activism has a long and distinguished history in circumstances where the state has shown itself incapable of defending the public interest. With no serious attempt by government to correct Britain’s massive democratic deficit, our initiative is an idea whose time has come. We ask you to join with us in taking back power in order to create a fairer and more sustainable society.
- Dr Gail Bradbrook — Director, Compassionate Revolution
- Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett — Co-authors of The Spirit Level
- George Barda — Social justice and Occupy campaigner, Compassionate Revolution
- Leon Rosselson — Writer/musician
- David Drew — Former Labour MP for Stroud
- Polly Higgins — Lawyer advocating for Ecocide Law
- Joel Benjamin — Debt Resistance UK and People vs PFI
- Professor Andrew Samuels — Analytical psychology, University of Essex
- Professor Karín Lesnik-Oberstein — Critical theorist
- Rev Paul Nicolson — Taxpayers Against Poverty
- Dr Richard House — Chartered psychologist, education campaigner, Stroud
- Liam Barrington-Bush — Co-founder, More Like People
- Max Graef — Broadcast engineer, company director
- Andrea Halewood — Chartered psychologist
- Ben Jarlett — Digital media consultant
- Martin Large — Publisher and author
- Jojo Mehta — Environmental campaigner
- Beatrice Millar — Steering group, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR)
- Gabriel Millar — Teacher, Stroud
- Alice Murray — Political activist and campaigner, Stroud
- Aliyah Norrish — Digital content associate
- Mark Nurse — NHS paramedic, Stroud
- Councillor Brian Oosthuysen — Gloucestershire
- Maja Passchier — Cellist and cello teacher
- Hazel Raee — Mobile digital champion, Isle of Skye
- Skeena Rathor — Movement therapist and teacher
- Dr Ilana Mira Sluckin — Paediatric doctor
- Richard Wilson — Director, OSCA
- Matt Wimpress — Company director
Some other tabs that have slid across my browser in times not long past:
- Here’s a short video promoting this year’s Spanish war tax resistance campaign:
- Aline Sitoe Diatta was, says Wikipedia, “a Senegalese heroine of the opposition to French colonialism, often called the Joan of Arc or the Marianne of Senegal.” When the French colonial administrators of the region where the Diola people lived began conscripting locals to fight in European wars and to engage in confiscatory taxation of rice and cattle, the Diola resisted. Aline Sitoe Diatta was one of the leaders of this resistance, and also a martyr: she was arrested and tortured, and died while imprisoned in exile. Emitai is a film about these uprisings from the Senegalese point of view.
- Glasgow Living looks back at the role of the people of Glasgow in the battle against Thatcher’s poll tax.
- Some mining companies in Romania are refusing to pay increased royalties on the grounds that the government raised the rates illegally after granting the initial mining concessions.
- A farmer from Lot-et-Garonne brought his farm animals along with him when paying his taxes and then got charged €230 for the manure clean-up afterwards — a fine the farmer plans to pay with 23,000 pennies.
- , the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. caught fire and had to shut down for repairs for a week.
- Truckers & farmers in Belgium have parked their vehicles on the highways, bringing traffic to a standstill to protest new trucking tolls.
- Sieglinde Baumert has spent two months in prison for her refusal to pay a €17½ monthly television tax to support the government-run station. The tax, which formerly was based on the number of televisions in a household, is now assessed on everyone in Germany whether or not they have a television.
- The attempt by Catalan nationalists to convince people there to pay their federal taxes to the regional government instead of to the Spanish central government is proceeding: this year more local governments will symbolically resist in this way, but fewer individuals are expected to do so.
- Taxi drivers in Quebec, upset at being outcompeted by upstarts like Uber, are threatening to stop paying taxes if the government doesn’t act to protect their industry against competition.
- Similarly, French hotels have threatened a tourist tax boycott in reaction to competition from Airbnb-like vacation rental facilitator Abritel-HomeAway.
- Have you caught the tax evasion bug?
The recent leaks of the “Panama Papers,” with their details of how the 1% stash their money in shell companies in tax havens, have increased perceptions that the tax system is gamed by the rich and powerful — and have decreased the willingness of the average joe to continue getting fleeced.
[IRS chief] Koskinen says the main factor that drives ordinary Americans to stop paying their taxes, or to try to cheat on their taxes, is the perception that others are doing the same. If you think that your neighbors are not paying their fair share, you’re just a little less likely to pay your own tax bill in full or in part.
In other words, tax evasion is contagious.
- Lateef Mangum, a resident of Washington, D.C., stopped filing federal tax returns thirty years ago because residents of that district do not have voting congressional representatives and Mangum takes the “no taxation without representation” slogan seriously.