Arcadi Oliveres on War Tax Resistance in Spain

Some links that have crossed my browser tabs in recent days:

  • Arcadi Oliveres was recently in Bilbao to speak at a conference on war tax resistance. He was interviewed for El Salto. Excerpts (translation mine):
    What is war tax resistance? What does it cover?
    In Spain, war tax resistance launched in , following our incorporation into NATO . At that time it was said that in order to standardize all of the Spanish armed forces into NATO systems, it was necessary to increase spending a lot on the military tech budgets, arms manufacture budgets, etc. We realized that this was barbarous and began to practice tax resistance, following an analogous path with what had already been done with conscientious objection to military service.

    There were people who did not want to participate in the preparation for war with their bodies and their effort and who therefore declared themselves to be conscientious objectors. The same thing goes for those who do not want to participate with their money in the financing of war. That means that in your taxes, which is where you you can act, you stop paying the percentage that the Defense Department gets in the federal budget. If military spending is 2% of the budget, and I have to pay 100, I will pay 98 because I want to stop paying this amount to the state. The way to go about it is to choose an NGO or some social action, send those two resisted euros, and tell the Treasury: “I would be willing to pay 100 but as two are going for very bad spending, here are the other 98.”
    Is this treated as an act of civil disobedience?
    Obviously the act is not recognized by law, and if they catch you, which doesn’t always happen, they can demand that amount. For all that, things take their course. Up to now you stopped paying the two euros, they demanded them, and furthermore added a fine or costs and so you end up paying eight. Concerning this there is a judgement of the Catalan Superior Court of Justice in which an objector was told that he should only pay the delinquent tax but not the fine.

    With good sense, the judgment held that the Treasury can only impose a fine when the taxpayer has intended to be deceptive. It’s clear that the objector doesn’t have such an intent because from day one he turns up with a receipt from the NGO or group to which he has donated. A single judgement does not create jurisprudence but I realize that it is necessary to keep winning more so that, finally, this is so.
    What other alternatives do citizens have to oppose spending on the military and arms industry?
    There are some that form part of what we would call conscientious objection, and others that would be broader. I think that a basic way of fighting is in education for peace, which is already practiced but less than is needed. From television shows to schools, and especially from families, we have to try not to impose a violent response to conflicts. Certainly, we also have to work politically, with actions for disarmament.

    If we look at conscientious objection, until now we have discussed two actions: objection to military service and tax resistance, but there should be others, such as labor objection. Right here in Bilbao, there was the case of a firefighter who refused to work overseeing the exportation of military equipment. A few years ago in Catalonia, two sailors refused to participate in the transport of Spanish soldiers who were going to the Iraq War, and lost their jobs, but these are isolated cases.

    There is also another type of objection. Some 15 years ago, there was a conference in Zaragoza in which more than a thousand professors declared ourselves scientific objectors, which is to say, signed a manifesto to say none of our scientific investigations were to be used for military purposes. Or, also, there is financial objection. I refuse to put money in a bank so that it will wind up invested in weapons, starting with the one that invests the most money in that business, BBVA.
  • Cincinnati.com looks at the long career in direct action of war tax resister DeCourcy Squire.
  • The Greek “Won’t Pay” movement’s guerrilla electricians have reconnected the power at the home of another needy family cut off by the government utility monopoly for inability to pay new surcharges.
  • Helen Thornley, at Tax Adviser magazine, looks back at The Women’s Tax Resistance League.
  • FiveThirtyEight notes that “Everyone Tries To Dodge The Tax Man, And It Keeps Getting Easier.” Excerpt:

    Three foes in particular are enabling tax dodgers, making their ploys more common and more damaging: reduced support for the IRS, new incentives for people to become cheaters and widening partisan distrust.