A New Resister Gets a Scary Letter from the I.R.S.

Sinfonia at Blast Off! writes that “the IRS is mad at me.” Excerpts:

Back in , I told you about my first real foray into civil disobedience, my participation in the War Tax Boycott. I withheld 15% of my total tax liability as a protest against the use of federal tax funds to operate an illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan…

The IRS has begun to catch up with me, though. On  — Christmas Eve, for Jeebus’ sake — I received a certified letter from the IRS

My mother, who was visiting at the time, was aghast that I would have done such a thing as not paying my full tax burden in order to make a statement, and she strongly urged me to pay my back taxes immediately. Since my children were in the room, too, I thought it was an excellent opportunity for what I like to call a “teachable moment.”

“The problem with American society today,” I began, understating the number of problems severely, “is that too few people are willing to stand up and make a statement against the government. They’d rather let the government, which presumably is elected by the people and works for the people, ‘do’ things to us — to accept the rulers’ decisions passively rather than try to shape them actively.” I paused for a beat. My mother blinked almost imperceptibly but said nothing, and I continued. “Well, I’m not going to sit here on my butt and watch the government walk all over us without a fight. If they want to throw me in jail, fine. But someone’s got to make a stand. Otherwise they’ll keep ‘doing’ to us until there’s nothing more to do.”

The point I was trying to make is a simple one: there seems to be a strong value attached to not “making waves.” Don’t speak out against bad policy decisions, just let things happen as they will, because “they don’t affect me anyway.” Well, they do affect me, and they affect you, too. I realize not everyone is willing to risk losing property or worse to send a message that the war is wrong, and I realize that, in isolation, my own meager statement is almost meaningless. But it’s not an isolated message, and there are many things you can do that won’t subject you to the kind of risk I’m taking. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me from this point forward, but I know that I’m not paying those taxes unless and until the war is over.…

ntodd, at Pax Americana follows up on Sinfonia’s essay with some of his own thoughts on tax resistance and a continuation of his series on Gene Sharp’s 198 methods of nonviolent political force.

The IRS did fewer audits and collected less money in its enforcement efforts than in .

A new report says that with 2% fewer employees working on enforcement cases, the amount of money the agency collected in this way dropped by almost 5%. The rate of audits fell across the board for both businesses and individuals — following a recent trend, this auditing drop was most dramatic for wealthy individuals and big businesses.