Tax Resistance, Bank Runs, and IRAs

At his blog, Pax Americana, “NTodd” has, among other things, been going through Gene Sharp’s list of 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action one-by-one, with a goal of blogging on each one in detail and providing some up-to-date commentary.

His latest is #86: Withdrawal of bank deposits, and he shares the story of how he’s withdrawn the money from his IRAs in support of his tax resistance.

…the IRA system is part of the whole IRS structure and allows me another chance to take money that I can refuse to pay taxes (and penalties) on now as protest. Sure, when they catch up with me it adds to my pile of infractions, but that’s part of the point, and I’ll have pulled even more of my consent from the matrix of control and war enabling the government’s revenue represents.

Part of my strategy for keeping my money out of the government’s hands has been to use tax-deferred retirement accounts like the IRA. One of the unintended consequences of this is that I now have a retirement nest egg that may hatch into a sitting duck for IRS seizure.

Under the rules of the game, (with some exceptions) I can’t withdraw this money until retirement-time. Meanwhile it sits in a brokerage account, vulnerable to government seizure, and there’s precious little I can do to protect it. If I were to withdraw all the money, NTodd-like, the IRS would add a big hunk of taxes due and penalties to what I’m already deciding not to pay voluntarily.

I suppose I could do this, or at least try to do it (I’m worried that there may be some automatic-withholding process that gets triggered when you try to cash in an IRA early and all at once). Then I could keep the money in a mattress, metaphorically-speaking, and safe from the grasp of the IRS. This is a bigger commitment than I’m prepared to make just now, but I’m considering it.