Get Ready to Fill Out a New W-4 Form

One side effect of the recently-enacted tax legislation is that many, maybe even all American employees will need to fill out new W-4 forms with their employers. These forms govern how much federal income tax is withheld from employees’ paychecks. New rules regarding exemptions and credits mean that people need to recalculate how much should be withheld.

This is an opportunity for those of us trying to encourage tax resistance. The first place to resist the federal income tax, for most Americans, is in this W-4 form. By having less tax withheld, you give yourself the opportunity to refuse to pay whatever is left over when you file your annual tax return. If too much is withheld from your paycheck over the course of the year, you have nothing to resist but a refund, which isn’t very effective.

NWTRCC has a good pamphlet on how to use your W-4 form to adjust your withholding. I expect they’ll update it somewhat to reflect the new tax law, but the basic process won’t change.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that the new tax law will result in more “lucky duckies” — people who owe zero federal income tax — than were expected under the law as it stood before the new legislation passed. Before, 43.4% of non-dependent Americans were expected to fall into this fortuitous category; now 45.8% are.

The federal government struck out again trying to convict participants in the Bundy standoffs. Last year, Ryan and Ammon Bundy were acquitted by a federal jury for their actions during a public land occupation in Oregon. And then , a judge declared a mistrial in the case against them, their father Cliven Bundy, and another man, for their actions during a standoff over government attempts to seize the Bundys’ cattle in  — saying that the prosecution had unethically and illegally withheld evidence from the defense.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a jury acquitted six defendants of charges of rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property. They had been charged after their participation in Inauguration Day protests . The defendants were not charged with having done any specific acts of rioting or property destruction, but were prosecuted under the theory that by participating in the protest, they became co-conspirators with any other protesters who did riot or destroy property.

Such a theory, if validated by the courts, would make it that much easier for the government to criminalize manifestations of dissent. A jury decided not to stand for it.

This was the first of several cases, involving hundreds of defendants, in the pipeline, and it remains to be seen whether the prosecution will change its theory or merely refine its technique going forward.

But it’s surprising and heartening to see this sort of push-back against prosecutors, in a country that usually gives them free rein.