The Latest War Tax Resistance News

Some war tax resistance news that has scrolled by on my screen in recent days:

  • Erica Weiland, at the War Tax Talk blog, has uncovered a case of successful war tax resistance from the archives of NWTRCC’s newsletter. The anonymous resister in question filed income tax returns, refused to pay the amount “owed,” and then began to watch those unpaid amounts disappear behind the statute-of-limitations curtain and beyond the reach of the IRS. The resister made some attempts to make collection more difficult — not owning big-ticket property, setting up a “gift annuity” and outright giving money away to make current assets less-collectible, moving accounts from bank to bank — but in part it seems to be IRS negligence or laziness that gets the credit. Good enough for government work!
  • Canada’s Globe and Mail published an obituary for Eldon Comfort, a World War Ⅱ vet who became an anti-war activist. It quotes from a letter he sent to the minister of revenue in :

    Today, modern technology has introduced weapons of mass destruction. Their cost is staggering. … So, in a very real sense when I pay my income tax, I am complicit in the deployment of such armaments.

    I am, therefore, claiming conscientious objection to the conscription of my tax for military purposes. The percentage of the federal budget designated for DND is deemed to be 8.1 per cent, so I have reduced my income tax by that amount. This portion is being directed to Conscience Canada’s peace tax fund.

    When the Canadian military operations were restricted to peacekeeping (in its restricted sense), to search and rescue, and to succour during national natural disasters, I had no quarrel with paying my taxes in full. When the priority for the resolution of conflict, once again, becomes a peaceful and diplomatic enterprise, I shall resume full payment.

  • Greg Slepak recognizes that by paying his taxes he becomes complicit in what the government does with his tax money, but he has chosen a different approach to that of conscientious war tax resisters. Instead of no longer paying for the government’s misdeeds, he has identified one of the victims of these misdeeds and attempted to compensate him in proportion to how much he’d victimized him. “To such a person, I have a sense of… indebtedness, as though I owe him something. After thinking on it, I realized there might be some truth to that.”
  • I recently became aware that a biography of Maurice McCrackin has been put on-line, including a chapter that covers his introduction war tax resistance and the early days of the Peacemakers group. His tax resistance began, according to the book, when Wally Nelson noticed the pacifist minister removing toy guns and other war toys from those in a donation pile, and told him: “Do you ever think that next March 15 [then the income tax filing deadline] you’ll be paying for real guns?” The next chapter covers his imprisonment for refusing to cooperate with an IRS summons. Another chapter concerns his removal as a minister by officials of his Presbytery who were upset about his war tax resistance.
  • Matt Hisrich at the Quaker Libertarians blog takes issue with Quaker organizations who frame their opposition to government military spending in terms of reallocating that spending to other government priorities. Excerpts:

    This approach puts forth the false notion that national governments sit atop vast reserves of wealth that should be spent on nonviolent rather than violent ends.…

    National governments cannot spend new wealth without either issuing new debt (that will have to be repaid) or extracting it directly from taxpayers through the implicit or explicit threat of violence. If Quakers (or anyone else for that matter) want to be known as “Champions of Peace,” it would be better to strive toward a reduction in the war spending that seeks to keep funds in the hands of individuals to peacefully pursue their own ends instead of merely shifting line items in national budgets. The former focuses on individual and local empowerment, and the latter focuses on somehow “winning” in the national political game.

Here’s a note about the Chicago property tax strike during the Great Depression, from The Jacksonville [Illinois] Daily Journal:

Delinquent Property Is Being Sold

300,000 Parcels Will Be Auctioned Off In Cook County

By R.S. Kleckner

 — For sale: 300,000 parcels of Cook county real estate because of delinquent taxes.

The gavel dropped today as sheriff’s officers started auctioneering to carry out blanket court judgments against the properties.

Ten tracts near Barrington were forfeited to the county today when no other bids were made on the first of the series of tax sales. Only one parcel is to be sold daily during the next month, County Treasurer Joseph B. McDonough said, to comply with the court orders. But after the month sales will go on full schedule.

The county possesses about 1,300,000 parcels of property — 600,000 on the delinquent list. On 260,00 parcels, objections and injunctions have been filed against the assessments.

Delinquencies in Cook county can not be traced alone to pinched finances, county authorities said. For example, there has been a taxpayers strike in progress.

The association of real estate taxpayers, contending large tax-bills should be split of the personal property tax were enforced, put on a drive to resist tax payment.

The association at first attempted to force authorities to levy against trust funds, corporation holdings, and similar large investments. Later it made a drive for members among small property holders and its officers now claim 28,000 persons joined in the tax protest.

Charging that the association was interfering with normal processes of law, and hence involved in a conspiracy, the state’s attorney’s office launched an investigation at the request of unpaid school teachers whose wages were chalked overdue because of slow tax payments.

The investigation closed last week and authorities said apparently the association would be cleared of accountability for local financial prostration.

Included in the delinquent lists were 1,000 school teachers and other city employes who have been unpaid. They filed tax exemptions on the ground they were unable to collect their salaries. County Judge Edmund K. Jarecki, who issued the sale orders, said their homes would not be sold if they promised to meet their taxes as soon as they received wage payments.

Thousands of other property owners have taken advantage of a quarterly tax payment plan.

About $148,935,000, slightly more than half the real estate taxes due, have been collected to date on the levy.

The deadline for first payments on the quarterly plan was extended until . County Treasurer Joseph McDonough said 34,842 tax-payers, most of them small home owners, had taken advantage of the plan paying $2,519,712 on the first payment up to .