War Tax Resisters Redirect Taxes to Charity

From the Afro American:

Tax resisters give money to agency

Several hundred tax resisters, who have refused to pay their taxes as a protest against government military spending, turned over their tax money to a Roman Catholic agency which runs a soup kitchen for the poor at a ceremony in Philadelphia .

The event at St. John’s Hospice, 13th and Race Sts, is part of a war tax resisters’ witness and rally which started at noon at City Hall West, Philadelphia.

The funds were received by Brother Stanley O’Neil. The hospice is run by the Brothers of the Good Shepherd.

Following the presentation at the Hospice rally participants met with Senators Arlen Specter and John Heinz at their offices in the Federal Building, 6th and Arch Sts, Philadelphia, to petition for the transfer of military taxes to peaceful purposes.

The rally is being organized by the War Tax Concerns Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Bill Strong, of the committee staff, said a growing number of Quakers and other Philadelphians are refusing to pay their taxes through a variety of methods including: non-payment of the military portion (34 percent of income taxes goes for current military spending), non-payment of the three per cent “military tax” levied on phone bills, adaptation to a simpler life style below the taxable level, and general protest activities.

Speakers at the rally included Peggy Hasbrouck, of the Brandywine Peace Community; Robin Harper, of Pendle Hill, a tax refuser for the past 19 years; Lillian Willoughby, a founder of the Movement for a New Society, a social change agency based in Philadelphia; Joe Volk, peace education secretary of the American Friends Service Committee and Father Paul Washington, Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia. The program will include music by several high school choral groups.

For a while, it seems, Bill Strong was the Philadelphia go-to guy for quotes about Quaker War Tax Resistance. Here’s another article, from that confusedly refers to war tax resistance as a modern invention among Quakers rather than an old tradition being rediscovered after nearly a century of near-dormancy:

Quakers consider withholding taxes to protest arms

For three centuries, Quakers have refused to go to war. Now, an increasing number of them are considering whether they also should refuse to help pay the country’s military bills.

Tax resistance — withholding all or part of tax payments as a protest against military spending — will be the central topic of discussion among Quakers gathered at the Friends Meeting House here for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

The program for the yearly meeting, which began and concludes , lists tax resistance as a “burning concern” for Quakers to consider.

A grass-roots interest in tax resistance has developed among Quakers in the 100 monthly meetings — local Quaker congregations — in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland that make up the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, according to William Strong of the yearly meeting’s War Tax Concerns Committee.

The issue was one of three main topics of concern suggested by the monthly meetings for this year’s agenda, said Betty Balderston of the yearly meeting’s Committee on Aging.

Some Quakers “never have seen their own financial involvement” in war, even though they might have worked for peace, said Strong, a former bank trust officer.

Historically, the burden of opposing war has fallen on young Quaker men who refuse to fight, Strong said. Tax resistance spreads the responsibility to other Quakers.

And here’s an Associated Press dispatch from :

Quaker-Led Tax Protest Gets Boost from Other Faiths

Quakers are taking the lead in a growing movement that subjects members to a painful dilemma — obeying the law or following their pacifist beliefs by refusing to pay taxes that go to the military.

When most Americans meet the Internal Revenue Service deadline Friday for filing income tax returns, up to 10,000 forms from Quakers will contain adjustments for withholding the “war tax,” said Bill Strong, a member of the Religious Society of Friends’ War Tax Committee.

“I used to think three years ago that this was an off-the-wall, peculiar obsession of a handful of particular Quakers,” said Strong, who has chosen to keep his income below the taxable level for three years.

“But we’re convinced now that this is moving to the center. You’re getting people who are thinking about it for the very first time. That’s exciting,” Strong said.

Other churches are beginning to join the movement, Strong said, adding he’s particularly heartened by support from Roman Catholics.

“We’re 100,000; they’re 50 million. When our concern starts bouncing back as their concern, don’t you think we feel good?”

Some members of the two faiths were preparing to join in protest , when several hundred protesters planned to turn over their tax money to the Catholic hospice Brothers of the Good Shepherd during a Quaker witness and afternoon rally at City Hall.

The protest was among 70 planned across the country, with thousands of Quakers participating, said Strong, 53, who is on leave from his job as a trust officer at a bank to advise tax resisters.

Quakers, who abhor killing and live by the creed of “God in every man,” helped lead the struggle to free American slaves in the early 19th century. Some were imprisoned for refusing to fight in World War Ⅰ; others persuaded Congress in to establish a conscientious objector provision to the draft laws.

The Quakers’ tax resistance has taken many forms.

Some have refused to pay a 3 percent excise tax on their telephone bills, which Strong claims raises $2 billion a year for the military.

Others refuse to pay 36 percent of their income taxes, claiming 28 percent goes to the military and 8 percent represents interest on the Social Security trust fund which they say goes to the military.

And some have also withheld an additional 17 percent of their taxes that they say covers the cost of past wars, including veterans payments and war-related interest on the national debt, Strong said.

“For others, withholding 53 percent isn’t enough because they know that no matter what taxes you put in, they go to the military. And they refuse all taxes, turning in a blank 1040. That’s a criminal offense,” Strong said.

A Quaker in Seattle, Irwin Hogenauer, 70, says he hasn’t paid taxes since .

“I’ve lived a life of principle and I’ll continue to stand by it,” he said.

Hogenauer was the subject of my Picket Line entry. A different version of the above article continues as follows:

Hogenauer, who is now retired, managed for most of his working life to keep his income below the taxable level.

“People who are conscientious objectors often mold their lifestyles so they don’t have any taxes to pay,” said Helen Provost-Kees, an IRS spokeswoman in Seattle.

Single people who earn $5,400 or less a year or couples who earn under $7,400 owe no taxes, she said.

Still, the decision to break the tax law is difficult for many.

“It troubles us to find ourselves in conflict with what we judge to be a fair obligation to pay the taxes,” said Joe Volk, secretary of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace Education branch and a tax resister since .

Robin Harper is still an active tax resister. Lilian Willoughby remained a dedicated activist into her 90s, and died in . Joe Volk is now the executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Paul Washington died in after a long career of shaking things up in Philadelphia.