War Tax Resistance in the Friends Journal in 2012

War tax resistance in the Friends Journal in

There were a few scattered mentions of war tax resistance in the Friends Journal in .

A obituary notice for Kenneth Hilbert Champney in the issue noted:

He volunteered printing services for the Peacemakers, a group dedicated to nonviolence, to start a newsletter. Ken believed in resisting the income tax in order to oppose military spending. He withheld what he judged to be the military portion of the taxes on his employees, continuing this practice even under threat from the IRS. He kept his own income low enough and his charitable contributions high enough to stay under the taxable limit year after year. In later life, Ken devised an investment system that enabled him to avoid paying income taxes.

Kyle Chandler-Isacksen promoted war tax resistance in an article in the that asked the reader to imagine the taxpaying process as if it were more of a personal encounter with the government, or with its embodiment, “General Sam.” The about-the-author note below the article read:

Kyle Chandler-Isacksen and his family have been war tax resistors for the past five years by living below the poverty line. They are the founders of Be The Change Project, an urban homestead devoted to family learning and service in a low-income neighborhood in Reno, Nevada.

David and Jan Hartsough had a letter-to-the-editor in the issue (which I’ve already covered, in the Picket Line). That issue also had brief review of a children’s book based on the tax resistance of American women’s suffrage activists Abby & Julia Smith.

Merry Stanford, in an article on the conscientious use of money, alluded to her war tax resistance:

By the time I was a young mother and attending Quaker meeting, my life had taken several surprising turns, and my resources were very scarce. Living on a poverty income in order to resist paying war taxes, I didn’t consider myself someone who had much to share with others.

That issue also contained a review of the NWTRCC-produced documentary Death & Taxes. Excerpts:

The film puts a human face on the subject, telling and showing the stories of those whose ultimate protest against war is their refusal to pay for it. The resisters are sincere, some even joyful, and their clarity of conscience is inspiring. They are folks with whom one would want to have more conversation, and the film will have its greatest use as a discussion starter for classes and study groups.

We live in an era when many taxpayers are objecting to the way their tax dollars are spent. Some taxpayers object to paying for publicly funded health care, public universities, public employee pensions, prisons, research, foreign aid, or for social security. How to sort out which public sector activities are moral and which are immoral is not a question the film does much to answer, however, I have no doubt that the people interviewed have given this subject thoughtful attention, but one needs to go beyond the film to probe more deeply. Refusal to pay taxes is a rather blunt instrument, except in the few cases where a tax or surtax has been specifically put in place to pay for a military undertaking. The film barely addresses this social complexity.