Tax Resistance News from Italy, England, Greece, Mexico, and Spain

Your international tax resistance news round-up:

  • In northern Italy, a group of small businesses have united under the banner “protesta fiscale ad oltranza” (tax protest to the bitter end) to begin to refuse paying taxes.

    We can no longer pay protection money to a phantom state. Join this group of people who have decided to lift our heads, a group of businesspeople who have had enough of this extortion practiced by a corrupt and criminal class with their legal scam of extorting money from businesspeople, from companies, from Italian households to expend revenues on their own interests, while starving citizens who cannot pay more under threats and victimization from the tormenters of the state.

    (Caveat: I pieced this translation together from Google Translate and some educated guesses based on Spanish grammar.)
io non pago il pizzo allo stato

some of the participants in “protesta fiscale ad oltranza” declaring that they won’t pay any more protection money to the government

  • In Italy, Daniela Fregosi has started resisting taxes in protest against the way the government discriminates against the self-employed when it subsidizes medical treatment. Fregosi is battling breast cancer and, when she discovered how flimsy the social security benefits were for self-employed people like herself, she decided to stop paying for them:

    [I decided to begin resisting] in December, when I got the bill from INPS [for the social security tax] — about three thousand Euros! When they asked me for that money, I felt like an ATM with breast cancer. So after having paid the INPS contribution every year , I decided not to pay it.

    Dear Thoreau, father of the fight against the state and power, as well as an emblem of civil disobedience and tax resistance, help me. Sustain and encourage me with your wise words so I do not feel alone: “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to and to resist the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now.”

  • In Italy, Giovanni Paolo Ramonda, general manager of the Community of Pope John ⅩⅩⅢ, spoke at a conference on the theme of “peace is the best defense.” He called on the government to create a “Ministry of Peace” and to allow taxpayers to choose to direct their taxes there instead of to military spending, and, “in the absence of this… we call on everyone to perform war tax resistance.”
  • In England, Hedley Lester has stopped paying his council tax in protest against the U.K.’s militarism.

    Mr Lester told the court that domestic and international laws stipulate that when war is illegal, the collection and payment of council tax to the government is a war crime.

    Mr Lester argued that the money going to Havant council went into a central pot of government cash.

    He told magistrates: “International law applicable to the U.K. as well as our own domestic legislation forbids me from becoming party to criminal acts being committed on an ongoing basis by the U.K. government.

    “It overrides any otherwise lawful requirement placed upon me by U.K. government. I submit it is beyond the scope of the powers of any public body, in this case Havant Borough Council, to require anyone to commit a crime.”

    He added: “I am not trying to achieve national chaos. I am trying to achieve the end of this country’s illegal and immoral use of war.”

    Lester lost his court case and is appealing.
  • In Malakasa, Greece, the mayor, deputy mayor, and aldermen were among those arrested at a toll gate protest at which the protesters raised the gates and waved cars through, and later destroyed some of the tollbooths. In another action in , the mayor of Pelasgias took a city-owned bulldozer and knocked down the railings along the roadside leading up to a tollbooth, creating a bypass around it.
  • A movement that is resisting increased fares on government-run monopoly public transit, which I first noticed in Mexico under the name “Pos Me Salto” has gone thoroughly international. In Rio de Janiero, Brazil, protesters of the passe livre movement occupied the central station:

    After marching peacefully from the Candelaria area dozens of activists from the Black Block group sprinted off and entered the station before police could close the gates. They smashed turnstiles, waved flags and entreated commuters to enter the train system without paying.

    Riot police and station security temporarily regained territory with pepper spray and percussion grenades, but after a brief hiatus the demonstrators regained control of the concourse and started drumming, dancing and singing as passengers — many clutching handkerchiefs to their faces because of the pungent police gas in the terminal — passed by without paying.

    “I totally support this protest,” said Fabiana Aragon, a red-faced, teary-eyed health worker who was heading home after work. The 43-year-old said she spent almost a third of her 1,000 reals income on transport fares but still had to endure long delays, dirty trains and hot, crowded carriages without air conditioning. “The situation now is absurd.”

  • Meanwhile, in London, England, a mini fare strike was launched to support the unions of transit employees. The government is hoping to cut back on ticket booth workers in favor of vending machines; the union, naturally, disapproves. As part of the union’s pressure tactics, they have decided on periodic “revenue actions:”

    This means that station staff will refuse to carry out “revenue duties”, including selling and checking tickets. Ticket office windows will be closed and ticket machines will be powered down. Revenue Inspectors will not conduct checks and issue penalty fares, and, except in cases where crowd control means it’s unsafe to do so, ticket gates will be kept open. In other words… free travel!

  • The December 9 Committee in southern Italy, part of a movement popularly known as Forconi (“Pitchfork”) have started ramping up a tax resistance campaign. They’re starting with a small, easy-to-resist tax: the television licence fee.

    Resources are being organized with sample letters, flyers, and volunteer counselors who will inform and assist anyone who wants to stop paying a tax we consider illegitimate. “We expect a lot of participation, with tens of thousands of people participating and sending a strong warning to those responsible.”

  • In Catalonia, the nationalist movement is pressing for a referendum on independence from Spain, though one which the Spanish government has already said it has no intentions of honoring (or even permitting). The movement has long been engaging in sporadic, and mostly symbolic, tax resistance actions. Recently the Catalan National Assembly considered launching a fresh tax resistance campaign.

    With this campaign (“From disobedience to sovereignty”) the ANC proposes that rather than paying taxes to the national Treasury to pay them into the Catalan Government, to initiate a “progressive disengagement from the State.”

    When the city council of Vilablareix backed a similar plan in , they were taken to court by the state government for this show of rebellion. (The complaint was dismissed on the grounds that the support was rhetorical and did not involve the council in any overt impropriety.) More recently six more Catalan municipalities have begun illegally paying the income tax withheld from the paychecks of city workers as well as the value-added tax collected locally into the Catalan tax agency instead of the federal one. This brings the total number of such municipalities up to 59, with another 172 having expressed that they plan to do so at some point.