War tax resisters redirect tax dollars from the Pentagon to people
From now through the last day to file federal income taxes on Tuesday, April 18, hundreds of people across the United States are taking public action to call for a change in federal budget priorities away from military spending and toward human and environmental needs. Individually and in groups, many of these concerned activists will divest from war by refusing to pay some or all of their federal income taxes.
“Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons,” say members of the Raytheon Peacemakers, who will hold an urgent peace vigil on Tax Day, April 18, at the gates of Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. Raytheon stock prices climbed after their missiles struck targets in Syria on April 6. Jack Cohen-Joppa of the Peacemakers says, “Our federal and local taxes have supported the expansion of this plant to produce weapons that are Tucson’s largest export. Tucson needs good paying jobs, but we should not 'develop’ our own community by destroying others around the world.”
In Lynchburg, Virginia, Larry Bassett is making public his one-person protest. Bassett is refusing to pay $128,000 in federal taxes to the IRS and paying it instead to peace and justice organizations and to meet human needs around the world. In his letter to the IRS, Bassett expresses some fear about what the IRS will do but says, “I take this action of resisting and redirecting federal income taxes because my conscience will not allow me to do otherwise.”
“Pie, Pie, & Pie Charts” is the title of a program on April 13 in Denver, Colorado, where eating pie will be combined with talk of where tax dollars go, alternative budgeting, and a presentation from the Denver War Tax Boycott on the reasons and process for not paying for war.
National tax marches demanding President Trump release his taxes have been called for Saturday, April 15. War tax resisters will join those actions in many communities, while still planning public rallies, vigils, and leafleting at post offices, IRS offices, federal buildings, and town squares on Tax Day, April 18, to bring attention to the harmful effects of military spending. See the list at http://nwtrcc.org/programs-
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) has coordinated tax day actions since 1983. During the current tax season, NWTRCC is giving special emphasis to collective redirection of war taxes by local groups to organizations led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous organizers. In Philadelphia, $7,000 is being redirected, and organizer Sam Koplinka-Loehr says, “I believe redirecting tax dollars is a beautiful and powerful act. First we are refusing to financially support violence, and second we are giving money to organizers who are targeted by state violence.”
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. In 2011, the International Peace Bureau called for Global Days of Action on Military Spending, and today many groups combine their protests of war spending in the U.S. with a demand for global disarmament and a shift in priorities to sustainable development.