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.
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.
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.