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  • Molly Lee

The Military, the Wall and Taxes



Having my taxes support endless war is bad enough, but now #45 wants to use military dollars and personnel to fortify the border and to build his wall.

I cringe when bills are passed (by one tie breaking vote of the VP) that allow tax money be removed from Planned Parenthood and other health organizations, taking away healthcare for many because some don't want their taxes going to one small part of healthcare, abortion. I fume because my position against excessive military and against the wall can't get the same congressional action. It isn't for lack of trying.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is a current organization for pacifists who have been resisting military taxes since around the 1940's. They do legislate for a legal option, but in the meantime refuse various amounts of income tax in protest. There are degrees of tax resistance that range from easy to difficult, from symbolic to withholding the total military percent, from minimal risk to major.

Their website has a variety of options listed along with risk involved. For example, I have participated in the past. Objecting to military excursions into Latin America and the Iraq war, I chose a relatively easy means, resisting the federal excise tax associated with the telephone bill (all were landlnes at that time). It seemed safe because the amount appeared too small to be pursued, and historically that tax had been levied during World War II to help fund the war. One sent a letter, monthly, with each telephone bill payment. There was a formula wording to use. And one subtracted the tax from the total when writing the check. It was, of course, a token gesture, but it had the possibility of educating whatever staff handled the payment about how much tax money goes to the military. There had been a legal case that determined that one's phone could not be turned off so long as one paid the actual phone bill portion; however, some phone companies will threaten to discontinue service and getting it straightened out can be a hassle.

For me, it worked well until the IRS started using computers. One year, instead of getting my refund, I got a letter saying IRS was checking to see if I owed anything. When the refund finally came, my telephone tax for the year had been deducted. At that point I decided it wasn't worth the effort anymore if IRS was going to get the money anyway. There are others who feel it is better for the government to seize the money than to volunteer it, even if it means the government gets more money in interest and fines. It is important to browse the site as well as interesting. If you have any interest in trying any means of resistance, a careful reading of the associated risks is helpful because some seemingly benign actions can involve fines, such as the "frivolous filing" penalty for writing a protest statement directly on the 1040 form. There are local war tax resistance counselors, who can advise on ways to lessen risk, listed on the site as well as a local support group.

One legal means to protest war taxes is to sign a petition for the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund, last introduced in 2017. Watch for updates.

A blog post last year suggested paper filing instead of e-filing. Perfectly legal. That was my action last year.

This year #45's bellicosity and threat about immigrants and the wall and diverting military to the border has me seeking a new degree of participation.

#editorial

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