The United States is certainly not the only country where people refuse to pay their taxes because too much money is being spent on current and future wars. There is, however, a long history of this kind of resistance, dating way back to the colonial wars where common people chose to stand firm and refused to pay when money was being raised for battle.
In Washington DC, this war tax resistance goes on today and seems as strong as ever. Talk to some protesters and activities and they’ll say that as much as half of collected federal taxes are being used to fund wars and militarization. With so much finance being funneled into this sector, it’s no wonder that the US has one of the biggest military machines in the world.
The refusal to pay taxes or at least withhold some payment is not just about refusing funding for the military. According to many, some less than scrupulous large contractors and arms companies are getting very rich on the tax dollars of ordinary Americans. All in the name of killing people.
War Tax Resistance
The funding of the military in America has led many peace activists and campaigners to get together to withhold their federal taxes. It’s essentially a non-violent way of seeking to change the amount and the way that the USA spends on war. Campaigners in places like Washington DC not only refuse to pay all or part of their taxes but also hold vigils and marches outside the IRS building in the city capital. Their mantra: If you pray for peace, don’t pay for war is a common site on the streets.
- Pay up but submit a letter of protest along with their tax return.
- Refuse to pay a small amount of tax to make a protest.
- Refuse outright to pay their tax.
While for self-employed people this is easy to manage, for salaried workers it is a little more complicated. When you start working for someone you need to fill out a W-4 form which can determine what allowances you have and can be used in a backhanded way to withhold taxes from the IRS. You can change the details on this form at any time. Of course, how big an impact this kind of resistance makes depends on the number of people in cities like Washington DC taking part.
The Peace Tax Fund
Another group that are trying to change things is the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund which is based in Washington DC. They aim to change the tax law so that those who object to their tax dollars going to fund wars can instead divert their payments to better causes. People would be marked as objecting to funding militarization and their tax could go to areas like education or social welfare instead. The bill has actually been around since 1972 and since then has been submitted every two years without fail though it is yet to be passed.
Critics of war tax resistance say that campaigners and activists in places like Washington DC are making very little difference. The Government are still collecting vast amounts of money and using it to spend on the military. Supporters say that it is a non-violent and courageous way to voice their objections and that support for their action, particularly in light of the recent war on terror, is beginning to grow.