War Tax Resistance and “Spiritual Death”

So it's early April, Easter Sunday to be exact and perhaps – given the Christian holiday – you are thinking about the absolute opposition to violence (including imperial state violence) espoused by the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament (see Luke 6.27-38; Matthew 26.52). 

At the same time, United States Tax Day (April 15th) looms and you are uncomfortable (for reasons that may or may not include religious faith) with the possiblity that you are about to write a big check that will help your government wreak yet more bloody havoc on the world, including the ongoing crucifixion it is inflicting on Mestopotamia.

Perhaps you wonder exactly how much of your tax payment will be going to fund Murder for Oil and Empire Incorporated.  Perhaps you'd also like to know how that war tax payment might be better and more usefully and justly spent at home and how to calculate the domestic social opportunity cost of your nation's massive imperial military budget and its continuing criminal war on Iraq. 

Perhaps you have reflected on the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. was likely executed by the U.S. government around this time of year, on April 4, 1968, exactly one year after he gave a famous speech in a Christian Church in which he observed that the United States government was "the leading purveyor of violence in the world" and noted that the Vietnamese must have found the armed forces who attacked their villages on orders from Washington to be "strange liberators" (King, "A Time to Break Silence," April 4, 1967).

The same year in which he gave that speech, you may or may not know, King wrote the following:

"The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.  A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: 'This way of settling diffferences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.  A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on militaty defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death" (King, Where do We Go From Here? [1967])  Sound like anything we can relate to today? 

Perhaps you are thinking that you can't continue to give our present day Caesars financial resources to continue to inflict the horrible consequences of your nation's "spiritual death" on others around the world, including Iraq.  Perhaps you are thinking about withholding war taxes but aren't sure how to go about it and worry about bad things Caesar's tax collectors and judicial authorities might do to you if you dared to give your payment to people working for peace and justice instead of to imperial bloodshed. Here are some Internet resources and links to assist you in sorting all this out:

National Priorities Project (NPP) interactive link on the domestic social opportunity cost of U.S. militarism and Iraq War – broken down by state and congressional district.  

Interactive Tax Chart to show the breakdown of your tax payment – the amount that will go the military versus the amount that will go to social needs.

The War Resisters’ League’s pie chart  and The Center for Defense Information as well as the Quakers.  

Ongoing NPP tabulation of the latest costs of O.I..L (Operation Iraqi “Liberation”… more than $415 billion as of this evening) with national opportunity costs reported for:


War Resisters League (WRL) Brief on War Tax Resistance  

WRL brief on how to resist war taxes

WRL brief on bad things that can happen to you if you refuse to pay war taxes. According to WRL: “Criminal prosecution is possible, but in practice so rare that in most cases the risk is negligible. Since the modern war tax resistance movement began during World War II, only one person (in the 1940s) has been jailed for resisting his war taxes. Only about 30 out of tens of thousands of people in the U.S. who have resisted war taxes have even been brought to federal court and convicted on issues related to their war tax resistance (usually for refusing to reveal sources of assets to the government or, in the 1970s, inflating their W-4 forms by claiming too many dependents).”

WRL list of people busted by IRS Seizure and Court Actions against war tax resisters since 1942.

Reading material on War Tax Resistance.

Organizations that support efforts at war tax resistance.  One of these organizations (National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund) works “for U.S. federal legislation enabling conscientious objectors to war to have their federal income taxes directed to a special fund which could be used for non-military purposes only.”.    

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