War Tax Resisters to Hold National Strategy Conference

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is holding its National Strategy Conference in Brooklyn .

Committed peace and justice activists are converging on Brooklyn (NY) , for a national strategy conference to broaden the network of people who refuse to pay for war. The purpose of the conference will be to develop more effective and creative methods of war tax refusal in order to extend its reach in the United States, while providing additional support for existing individuals and groups across the country deeply engaged in war tax resistance. If more people refuse to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this will tighten the screws of nonviolent resistance against the U.S. war machine.

We will critically look at strategies and campaigns that have worked well in the past and what we can do to improve them. We will brainstorm new ideas and techniques. We will see what can be done to encourage other constituencies to adopt this tactic for their communities. We will identify the roadblocks to resistance (e.g., fear of the IRS) and attempt to address them. And we will celebrate our ability to take away the government’s control of how our tax money is spent.

We hope you will join us!

I won’t be able to make it , but I’ll keep an eye out for reports of goings-on at the conference and will report any interesting developments here.

The Tax Foundation has been the best source of pithy press releases, reports and graphs about the “Lucky Ducky” phenomenon — that is, that there is an increasing number and percentage of people in the United States who don’t earn enough money to pay any income tax.

Alas, they see this as a problem, while to me it is a solution.

But anyway, they’ve got a new “Fiscal Fact” out that tries to make this point that we could lower the tax rates on all the income that is taxed now if only we would start taxing all that income that isn’t.

By their estimation, fully 60% of the income earned in the United States today is covered by credits, deductions, exemptions, or is an untaxed transfer or benefit, or is earned in the underground economy and undeclared, or is earned by people too poor to need to file tax returns in the first place. In other words, only 40% of the income earned in the United States is taxed at any rate at all by the IRS.

They hope this shocking fact will encourage lawmakers to “broaden the tax base” — which is to say, make more of that 60% taxable, so they can lower the tax rates on the 40%.

This analysis does the traditional wealth-lobby think tank tax trick of pretending that the Social Security / Medicare / payroll / FICA tax doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. It’s pretty clear that much of the reason for the lower-income exclusion from income tax is the larger burden of FICA for people at a low income.

With the federal government siphoning off this FICA money into the general fund, and with none other than the President himself saying that the IOUs given in return are worthless, it’s hard to believe that FICA is anything but an additional form of income tax — like the federal income tax and the AMT.

Remarkably, though, the Republicans in Congress immediately thought of squeezing the poor in this way when it came time to try to find money to pay for the coming Katrina boondoggle (what? you expected them to look for offsetting spending cuts?):

The Republican effort to offset some of the costs of hurricane relief expanded on to include proposals that would freeze inflation adjustments for tax credits and deductions, cut Treasury and IRS funding, and crack down on the suspected abuse of the earned income tax credit.

(Somehow they’ve convinced themselves that “freez[ing] inflation adjustments for tax credits and deductions” isn’t the same as raising taxes.)

This gave Democrats the opportunity to take the high road, and, uncharacteristically, given this opportunity — they took it:

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Tuesday she was willing to return to the federal Treasury $70 million designated for San Francisco projects in the new highway and transportation bill and use the money to help pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Don’t worry, San Francisco, nobody is really going to call that bluff. You’ll get your pork, and everywhere else with powerful enough congresscritters will too, and Halliburton will get its boondoggle cash to themeparkize New Orleans, and they’ll just put it on our tab as usual:

My favorite was Louisiana Sen. Bennett Johnston (D), who breezily dismissed questions about who would pick up the tab. “It will be paid for out of the deficit,” Johnston explained. “The deficit is big enough to encompass this too.” All I can say to that is that we here in Miami thank God for prescient public servants like Johnston who were prudent enough to squirrel away a nice large deficit for use on a rainy day.

“Americus” puts forth a mighty rant over at The Claire Files:

So World War Ⅲ has begun, and I’m in the bad country. Our President is totally F’ing mad, he and his millennial dispensationalist raptureists backers are trying to fulfill an ancient religious prophecy about an all-destroying battle between good and evil, and the most powerful propaganda industry in history is strangely backing him up, pretending he’s sane and reasonable, leading Americans on a cult of global-scale murder-suicide that may very well leave our country in ruins. How did we come to this?

Bush is already being set up as the scapegoat, like Hitler before him, so Americans can pretend we’re all good people who just got a bad ruler by some fluke and we were “only doing our jobs” or “we didn’t know.” But nobody is born with an urge to conquer and exterminate, with an active resistance to empathy, with an inability to psychologically adapt. People like this are made, and in a healthy society they’re seldom made and never given influence. In America we crank them out by the millions and tend to make them our leaders and congress critters. Wishful-thinking lefties say the American people are against this war, but I don’t see it. I see every part of the government and every large business going along with the war, and I see a majority of people who either actively support it, or refuse to give any attention to politics, or secretly feel good about “their” side ruling the world and are happy that they don’t have to admit it, happy the system is set up so they can benefit from brutality just by continuing to behave normally, whatever that term may mean.…

And it doesn’t stop there… The trick is to bottom-out in this sort of rhetorically nifty anger and frustration and then somehow pull out of the dive into some hopeful and believable imagining. “Americus” gives it a pretty good shot.