Links of Interest to War Tax Resisters

I’ll take a break today from the ongoing Evil and Human Agency-a-thon and cover some things I’ve been pushing to the side to make room for that increasingly bloated book review.

First off: the folks at Peacework Magazine have included a transcript of the speech I gave at a San Francisco Federal Building protest in their latest issue. The speech is also available as an audio file (though it’s not me giving the speech but someone else reading the transcript).

Next: Michael McCarthy, a leader of Blue Water Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization from Port Huron, Michigan, shares some post-tax-day thoughts about war tax resistance. Excerpts:

The Gospel calls on us to defeat evil with good.… [A] growing group — 10 to 15 members of five to six local churches — is taking its federal income tax dollars (in $100 amounts we name “Iraq Peace Bonds”) from supporting this war, and redirecting some of the money to local needs for public education — in this case, our county library. We gave checks totaling $1,360, and are now in ongoing, collective, open civil disobedience to an unjust war tax.

Most taxpayers have withholding from their paychecks. They overpay during a tax year and receive refunds. This leaves no way to stop paying some portion for this unjust war. So we have been fine-tuning our finances and W-4 allowances now, so that something will be owed at the end of this tax year .

The process is to withhold less now, so that each will pay $100 less for war . Some of us already have done this for the tax year. We file our 1040s, and pay the balance due, minus $100. We notify the Internal Revenue Service and Congress, of what is owed, but hold it instead in a peace escrow account, or donate the money — to the library, for example. We know the IRS still would bill us for that amount.

There are risks to this witness. Participants in this act of civil disobedience violate federal law.

We do this as a community, discussing details with friends, family, and tax preparers. The IRS likely will respond with form letters within months requesting payment with penalty and interest that accrue at 1–2% monthly.

Therefore, an initial $100 Iraq Peace Bond could cost about $125 with IRS penalties and interest by the end of a year.…

And Eric Stoner and Bryan Farrell ask the readers of ZNet “Why Pay for War?” Excerpts:

For those whose conscience demands action now, there is another option, carved out by a long history of war tax resisters. According to the War Resister’s League, tens of thousands of Americans — including Dorothy Day, Joan Baez, and Noam Chomsky — have at some point resorted to civil disobedience by not paying their taxes .

Some resisters have deliberately chosen to live below the poverty line to avoid paying taxes, while others simply do not pay part or all of what the government demands for its addiction to war. These actions no doubt come with risk and sacrifice, but it’s often not as bad as people think. Only rarely has anyone lost their house or car or faced jail time, while many have resisted for decades without significant consequences.

The War Resisters League and the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee offer numerous resources on their websites concerning every facet of this form of resistance, as well as contact information for local support groups.

While the U.S. government has been spendthrift when it comes to building its arsenal, Americans, by and large, have been the misers, refusing to pay any significant price for their convictions. As Father Daniel Berrigan, no stranger to personal sacrifice, once remarked, “Because we want peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course continues, because the waging of war, by its nature is total — but the waging of peace, by our cowardice is partial.”

Finally: this sort of news always brings a smile to my face. Excerpts:

Two anti-war campaigners who broke into an airbase to sabotage US bombers at the outbreak of the Iraq war have been cleared of all charges.

Protesters Toby Olditch, 38, and Philip Pritchard, 36, used bolt cutters to enter RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. They had intended to clog the planes’ engines with nuts and bolts when they were arrested by Ministry of Defence police.

The men pleaded not guilty at Bristol crown court to conspiring to cause criminal damage, claiming the B52s would have been used to commit war crimes in Iraq.

Speaking outside court, Mr Pritchard said: “I am delighted. It is a great relief — and a huge vote of confidence for anti-war protesters — that a jury were convinced that our actions were lawful.”

This is only the latest in a series of cases in which protesters seeking to disable American military equipment have been acquitted after raising the defense that they had been acting to prevent acts of criminal war.