Another year of tax resistance
Yesterday, I joined the annual Tax Day protest coordinated by the Rockland Coalition for Peace & Justice — it was one of dozens of such vigils being held around the country. For a day, I was a "celebrity." An article had been published on the front page of the day's regional newspaper, "Money Talks for Peace Activists — Taxes: Residents Say They Won't Pay for War" — and my spouse and I were featured in the piece.
It hadn't been an easy decision for Rima and I to choose to do tax resistance. I had been writing protest letters to the IRS for many years, and we have lots of financial concerns and bills to handle as a result of our nonprofit positions and educational debt. But each of us have been in more peace and justice marches and vigils than we could possibly count, and that never seemed to make a difference in the decisions that our political leaders were making. How could we really make a difference?
So we chose tax resistance, one year ago this month. Both of us have a number of connections to Quakers, and we learned that a Quaker group, the Purchase Quarterly Meeting of the New York Society of Friends, had a peace tax escrow account which could be used as a place to send monies that one doesn't want used for military purposes. So we sent 51% of our fairly large income tax assessment to that escrow account, in accordance with last year's pie chart published by the War Resisters League, "Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes." (This year, the military figure is an astronomical 54% of each tax dollar!)
It's been an interesting year. We've received tons of correspondence from the IRS, firmly pushing us for the money we owe them, but as our letter to the IRS last year said, while we completely support paying taxes, we don't intend to pay this percentage of our taxes until the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has ended. It will be difficult to keep up this witness — my wages at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, as of yesterday, are now being levied by the IRS — but we are going to try. The most encouraging thing is the powerfully supportive response that we have received from so many people. Clearly, our small action has struck a chord with others who similarly oppose this war, and are unsure about what they can do to help stop it.
In the meanwhile, we'll keep trying to share our story, in the hopes that it will help to build a larger war tax resistance movement. I was interviewed at yesterday's protest by local cable news channel 12, which had learned about our witness by the lead story in the morning newspaper. Each media interview we can get will help.