Refusing to Pay Income Taxes for the Trump Agenda
The inauguration of Donald Trump has been met with some of the largest street protests in U.S. history. The executive order to close immigration to refugees and travelers from particular countries brought out more days of protest. Social media has been alive with calls to openly defy the Internal Revenue Service and redirect income tax dollars to those groups harmed by Trump administration policies.
Many protesters are asking themselves how can they write checks for policies that they find abhorrent. With the tax filing deadline of April 18 approaching, deliberate refusal to pay taxes may become a significant tactic to supplement the public protests, which show no signs of abating.
On January 26, after Trump announced that U.S. taxpayers might have to front the money for the border wall, actress Mia Farrow tweeted: “I refuse to pay a penny of my taxes toward Trump’s insane, insulting wall.” Six weeks before Trump became president, Sicangu Lakota spiritual leader Leonard Crow Dog spoke at Standing Rock, urging people to not pay taxes if the U.S. government does not honor its treaties with Native American tribes.
On December 9, 2016, feminist leader Gloria Steinem talked about giving some of her taxes to Planned Parenthood instead of the IRS, in defense of women’s healthcare. Other campaigners are calling on taxpayers to redirect their taxes to sanctuary cities if federal funding is cut off as Trump has threatened.
Riding the tide of the current popularity of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, longtime war tax resister Ed Hedemann has proposed that new resisters reduce their payments to the IRS by $19.84, or $198.40, or $1984. Others say they won’t pay their taxes until Trump releases his tax forms.
Tax refusal has a long history in the U.S., from the Boston Tea Party, to Thoreau’s refusal of the poll tax collected for the Mexican-American War, to widely practiced tax resistance during the Vietnam War. Refusal to pay taxes for war has been continually practiced since World War II, at times by only small groups of pacifists; at other times, such as before and since the invasion of Iraq, by thousands opposed to war.
Today the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) calls on U.S. taxpayers to reinvigorate this form of resistance in order to challenge federal policies, spending priorities, and actions. We oppose Trump administration plans to boost the Pentagon budget and cut social spending. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (border and immigration control, and the 1033 program that sends military weapons to local police forces) and the Energy Department (nuclear weapons), among other agencies, are major parts of the military budget..
NWTRCC provides information and support to all people of conscience who openly refuse payment of some or all of their federal income taxes to the IRS and instead send refused taxes to groups targeted by Trump administration policies. Prior to the inauguration, NWTRCC had already called on affiliate groups to participate in a “collective redirection” of resisted taxes to organizing led by people of color. In addition, many may choose to redirect their taxes to groups like Black Lives Matter, indigenous rights organizations, homeless shelters, refugee aid groups, threatened health clinics, immigrant sanctuaries, climate change and environmental activists, and peace and antiwar organizations.
War tax resisters use various methods to practice this act of civil disobedience. Some live on incomes below the taxable level, some refuse to pay part of the taxes due, others refuse 100% of tax money owed to the IRS. The website nwtrcc.org is a resource for information about how to resist and potential consequences from IRS enforcement, as well as how to connect with groups around the country.
By redirecting our taxes from the IRS to groups in need, we are divesting from war and investing in people, we are saying ‘NO!’ to the militarization of the U.S. federal budget the wars and occupations, the militarized border and local police forces, and the inevitable crackdown on civil rights,” says NWTRCC organizer and longtime war tax resister Erica Weiland of Seattle, Washington.
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) is a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war. NWTRCC was formed in 1982 to oppose the buildup of the U.S. military under the Reagan administration.
Ruth Benn is Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215, (718) 768-3420 or (800) 269-7464, www.nwtrcc.org.