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Tax resistance
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Tax resistance is the refusal to pay
tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attr ...
because of opposition to the government that is imposing the tax, or to government policy, or as opposition to taxation in itself. Tax resistance is a form of
direct action . A general strike is an example of confrontational direct action. Direct action originated as a political activism, activist term for economic and political acts in which the actors use their power (e.g. economic An economy (from Greek la ...
and, if in violation of the tax regulations, also a form of civil disobedience. Examples of tax resistance campaigns include those advocating home rule, such as the
Salt March
Salt March
led by
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti-colonial nationalist politics in the t ...

Mahatma Gandhi
, and those promoting women's suffrage, such as the Women's Tax Resistance League. War tax resistance is the refusal to pay some or all taxes that pay for
war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, g ...
, and may be practiced by conscientious objectors, pacifists, or those protesting against a particular war. Tax resisters are distinct from " tax protesters," who deny that the legal obligation to pay taxes exists or applies to them. Tax resisters may accept that some law commands them to pay taxes but they still choose to resist taxation.


History

The earliest and most widespread forms of taxation were the corvée and
tithe A tithe (; from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...
, both of which can be traced back to the beginning of
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood ...

civilization
. The corvée was state-imposed
forced labour Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, violence including death, compulsion, or other ...
on
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, three classe ...
s too poor to pay other forms of taxation (''labour'' in
ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word t ...
is a synonym for taxes). Low taxes helped the Roman aristocracy increase their wealth, which equalled or exceeded the revenues of the central government. An emperor sometimes replenished his treasury by confiscating the estates of the "super-rich", but in the later period, the resistance of the wealthy to paying taxes was one of the factors contributing to the collapse of the Empire.#Morris, Morris, p. 184. Because taxation is often oppressive, governments have always struggled with tax noncompliance and resistance. Indeed, it has been suggested that tax resistance played a significant role in the collapse of several empires, including the ancient Egypt, Egyptian, Roman Empire, Roman, Spanish Empire, Spanish, and Aztec Triple Alliance, Aztec. Reports of collective tax refusal include Zealotry, Zealots resisting the Roman Tax per head, poll tax during the 1st century AD, culminating in the First Jewish–Roman War. Other historic events that originated as tax revolts include the Magna Carta, the American Revolution and the French Revolution. War tax resisters often highlight the relationship between income tax and war. In Kingdom of Great Britain, Britain income tax was introduced in 1799, to pay for weapons and equipment in preparation for the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleonic wars, whilst the Union (American Civil War), US federal government imposed their first income tax in the Revenue Act of 1861 to help pay for the American Civil War.


Views and aims

:Tax resisters, Tax resisters come from a wide range of backgrounds with diverse ideology, ideologies and aims. For example, Henry David Thoreau and William Lloyd Garrison drew inspiration from the American Revolution and the stubborn pacifism of the Quakers. Some tax resisters refuse to pay tax because their conscience will not allow them to fund war, whilst others resist tax as part of a campaign to overthrow the government. Tax resisters have been violent revolutionaries like John Adams and pacifist nonresistance, nonresistants like John Woolman; communists like Karl Marx and capitalists like Vivien Kellems; solitary anti-war movement, anti-war activists like Ammon Hennacy and leaders of independence movements like Mahatma Gandhi. Leo Tolstoy, a Christian anarchism, Christian anarchist, urged government leaders to change their attitude to war and citizens to taxes:


Methods

As an example of the numerous tax resistance methods, below are some of the legal and illegal techniques used by war tax resisters:


Legal


Avoidance

A resister may lower their tax payments by using legal tax avoidance techniques.


Paying under protest

Some taxpayers pay their taxes, but include protest letters along with their tax forms. Others pay in a protesting form — for instance, by writing their cheque on a toilet seat or a mock-up of a missile. Others pay in a way that creates inconvenience for the collector — for instance, by paying the entire amount in low-denomination coins. This last method is less effective in countries where small coins are legal tender only in limited amounts, allowing the tax authority legally to reject such payments; for example in England and Wales, 1p coins are legal tender only in amounts up to 20p.


Reducing taxable income and consumption

Other tax resisters change their lifestyles so that they owe less tax. For instance; to avoid consumption taxes on alcohol, a resister might Homebrewing, home-brew beer; to avoid excise, excise taxes on gasoline, a resister might take up Vehicular cycling, cycling; to avoid income tax, a resister may reduce their income below the income tax threshold, tax threshold by embracing simple living or a freeganism, freegan lifestyle. For example, British citizens pay no income tax if their income is below the personal allowance. In the US the equivalent tax-free annual income is the standard deduction, though many deductions and credits allow people to earn much more than this and still avoid income tax. Opposition to war has led some, such as Ammon Hennacy and Ellen Thomas, to a form of tax resistance in which they reduce their income below the tax threshold by taking up a simple living lifestyle. These individuals believe that their government is engaged in immoral, unethical or destructive activities such as war, and that paying taxes inevitably funds these activities. These methods differ from tax evasion in that they stay within the tax laws, and they differ from tax avoidance in that the goal is to pay as little tax as possible rather than to keep as much post-tax income as possible.


Illegal


Evasion

A resister may decide to reduce their tax paid through illegal tax evasion. For instance, one way to evade income tax is to only work for cash-in-hand, therefore circumventing withholding tax.


Redirection

Some tax resisters refuse to pay all or a portion of the taxes due, but then make an equivalent donation to charity. In this way, they demonstrate that the intent of their resistance is not selfish and that they want to use a portion of their earnings to contribute to the common good. For instance, Julia Butterfly Hill resisted about $150,000 in federal taxes, and donated that money to after school programs, arts and cultural programs, community gardens, programs for Native Americans, alternatives to incarceration, and environmental protection programs. She said:
I actually take the money that the Internal Revenue Service, IRS says goes to them and I give it to the places where our taxes ''should'' be going. And in my letter to the IRS I said: "I'm not refusing to pay my taxes. I'm actually paying them but I'm paying them where they belong because you refuse to do so."
Groups like the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (United States), Peace Tax Seven (United Kingdom), (Germany), and Conscience and Peace Tax International are working to legalize a form of conscientious objection to military taxation which would enable conscientious objectors to designate their taxes to be spent only on non-military budget items. They see this as a legalized form of war tax redirection.


Refusing specific taxes

Some resisters refuse to willingly pay only certain taxes, either because those taxes are especially noxious to them, or because they present a useful symbolic target, or because they are more easily resisted. For instance, in the United States, many tax resisters resist the telephone federal excise tax. The tax was initiated to pay for the Spanish–American War and has frequently been raised or extended by the government during times of war. This made it an attractive symbolic target as a "war tax". Such refusal is relatively safe: because this tax is typically small, resistance very rarely triggers significant government retaliation. Phone companies will cooperate with such resisters by removing the excise tax from their phone bills and reporting their resistance to the government.Not paying phone tax becomes war protest
''San Francisco Chronicle'' 4 December 2005


Refusing to pay

The most dramatic and characteristic method of tax resistance is to refuse to pay a tax – either by quietly ignoring the tax bill or by openly declaring the refusal to pay. Some tax resisters resist only a portion of the taxes due. For instance, some war tax resisters refuse to pay a percentage of their taxes equivalent to the military percentage of the government's budget. Other resisters withhold a symbolic amount – for instance, in the United States, some might hold back $17.76/17.76% (symbolic of the revolutionary year 1776) or $10.40/10.4% (in tribute to Form 1040, which is used in federal income tax returns).


See also

* Tax choice * Taxation as theft


References


Further reading

* War Resisters League (2003) ''War Tax Resistance: A Guide To Withholding Your Support from the Military''. * Donald D. Kaufman (2006) ''What Belongs to Caesar?: A Discussion on the Christian's Response to Payment of War Taxes''. * Donald D. Kaufman (2006) ''The Tax Dilemma: Praying for Peace, Paying for War''. * David M. Gross (2008) ''We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader''. * David M. Gross (2009) ''Against War and War Taxes: Quaker Arguments for War Tax Refusal''. * Marian Franz (2009) ''Persistent Voice: Marian Franz and Conscientious Objection to Military Taxation''. * David M. Gross (2011) ''American Quaker War Tax Resistance''. *


External links


Climate change and my tax returnConscience Canada
*
Death and Taxes
' - National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, NWTRCC film about war tax resisters and their motivations
History of War Tax Resistance
by Peace Tax Seven (U.S./UK focus)
Resistance to Civil Government
by Henry David Thoreau
Silence and Courage: Income Taxes, War and Mennonites 1940-1993
— tax resistance in the women's suffrage movement

by Lawrence Rosenwald {{Lady Godiva Tax resistance, Civil disobedience Community organizing Protest tactics Anarchist theory Libertarian theory Tax noncompliance