286 U.S. War Tax Resisters Are Surveyed. Here’s What They Said.

I summarized the results of a survey that NWTRCC conducted of former war tax resisters. I summarized their survey of activists who had never done war tax resistance. I summarize the survey of 286 current war tax resisters.

What sort of tax resistance do we engage in, and how long have we been resisting?

Of the current resisters, 50.3% resist the federal excise tax on telephone service and 87.1% resist the federal income tax. If you compare this to the former resisters, you’ll see that these percentages are pretty much swapped (81.9% & 68.1%). This, I guess, reflects that people with less commitment to tax resistance (indicated by their having quit) also tended to choose the less-risky and less-ambitious form of resistance.

Those of us who indicated that we did participate in each variety were also asked how many years we have resisted:

phone taxincome tax
1 year6.9%5.2%
2 years7.6%9.2%
3 years13.2%12.0%
4 years8.3%7.2%
5 years2.8%4.8%
6 years7.6%4.0%
7 years2.8%2.8%
8 years1.4%1.2%
9 years2.1%0.4%
10 years2.1%2.8%
10+ years71.5%53.8%

Those of us who resist the federal income tax were asked how much we resist. 60.2% say they resist all of it; the rest say they resist a portion and pay the remainder of what is due.

How much do we resist each year?

The tax resisters were asked “On average, how much do you think you resist per year?”

Hard to quantify because I intentionally live below taxable income32.7%

I was surprised to see that a third of war tax resisters report that they are resisting income tax by deliberately living below the tax line. I didn’t realize that this method was as popular as that.

Resisters were also asked “Approximately how much do you think you’ve resisted in all your WTR years?” Responses ranged from $11 to $120,000, and averaged $15,904.

Do we redirect?

73.3% of those who responded say that they redirect the money that they refuse to pay in taxes to a humanitarian cause.

Are we part of a war tax resistance group?

Only 34.7% of those who responded reported that they were a member of a local war tax resistance group. 62% said that they (or their local group) were affiliated with NWTRCC. (Since the surveys were distributed in NWTRCC mailings and at NWTRCC events, this probably biases these results somewhat.)

Would an organized tax strike strengthen their commitment to tax resistance?

Asked, “Would it strengthen your commitment to continue WTR if thousands joined in a one-year commitment to refuse to pay a portion of federal income taxes?”, 65.9% said that it would.

Who are these tax resisters?

Finally, demographic information was collected. The war tax resisters who responded to the survey are by-and-large, older than the population as a whole:

AgeWTRsU.S. population
Under 180.4%25.7%
Over 6522.8%12.4%

We are divided almost equally male and female (48.8% / 50.9%). By race, we overwhelmingly skew “Caucasian”:

RaceWTRsU.S. population
Native American2.8%0.9%

(The two sets of percentages may not refer to exactly-equivalent concepts; I took the “U.S. population” numbers from a census table.)

Asked about their marital status and number of children (“at home or in college”), those surveyed responded as follows:

Marital statusWTRsU.S. population
Civil union or common law9.6%
Divorced or separated14.6%11.9%
# of ChildrenWTRs

(I haven’t found any equivalent figures for how many children adults have in the U.S. as a whole.)

Asked their “religion or persuasion,” those surveyed tended more toward the eclectic and skeptical than the population as a whole:

ReligionWTRsU.S. population
Peace Church (Quaker, Brethren, Mennonite)22.1%

Asked “What is the highest grade or year you finished in school?”, resisters skewed overwhelmingly to higher-education, with a majority claiming a post-graduate degree (compared to 8% of the U.S. population as a whole):

Completed EducationWTRsU.S. population
8th grade or less0.4%6.4%
Some high school0.4%13.7%
High school diploma3.9%29.8%
Post high school, not college0.7%—%
Some college14.6%26.0%
College degree27.8%16.0%

Asked our “total household income,” those surveyed tended toward the lower end of the income scale (which is to be expected if a third of us have lowered our incomes deliberately in order to stay under the tax line):

Household IncomeWTRsU.S. population
Less than $15,00027.0%14.6%
Over $100,0002.8%17.2%