FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS:
WAR TAX RESISTANCE
What is the experience of war tax resistance in bringing
policy change/ what impact can this really have on the
War tax resistance is a personal witness in resisting
war. It requires individuals to make a personal and
powerful statement that deepens their commitment. Civil
disobedience implies a willingness to take a personal
risk for one's belief.
This war is being waged with the tacit cooperation
of millions of people who oppose it. War tax resistance
is a powerful statement of non-cooperation that contributes
to the overall strength of the movement against the
What are the consequences of not paying taxes?
For those resisting by claiming more allowances on their
W-4 forms, the most likely consequence is that the IRS
concludes that your withholding is too low, and they require
your employer to change the number of allowances that
you receive. The IRS could also impose a $500 civil penalty,
although tax resisters are not aware of this happening
for decades. Far less likely are criminal charges, including
one year in jail and a fine up to $100,000. Since the
1970s only one war tax resister has been prosecuted, and
he was sentenced to 8 hours per week of community service.
How much of our taxes are allocated for funding the war
In 2008, 7% of the Federal income tax will be spent on
the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (estimated
The percentage of taxes slated for current military spending
in 2008 will be 31%, or $585 billion. This calculation
includes current war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan,
military personnel, operations and procurement, NASA,
International Security, Homeland security, the Executive
Office of the President, and much more.
Finally, 51% of all taxes go to the total of military
spending. This includes all of the figures from above,
plus Veteran's Benefits, interest on the national debt,
human resources, human resources, general government costs,
and physical resources.
Some war tax resisters end up giving the government more
money than they originally resisted due to interest and
penalties. Why would we bother to go though this hassle
only to end up paying more to the government in the end?
War tax resisters believe they have a civic obligation
to throw a wrench into the gears of the war machine. It
is a symbolic act, but when thousands of people join together
it withdraws legitimacy from the government's conduct
of the war.
Not all war tax resistors end up paying
any/all of their backlogged taxes, interest and penalties.
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
cites "Many tax refusers have prevented almost
all collections from them, for periods ranging up to
fifty years in the case of some of our older colleagues."
Also, understanding one's motives for War Tax Resistance
may help to answer this question. Are you resisting
war tax as a symbolic action, a statement of values,
an act of disobedience, a way to redirect taxes for
useful purposes, or another purpose?
|5. How does one withhold taxes
if they have automatic deductions from their salary throughout
When a person begins a job with an employer, they are
required to fill out a W-4 form which helps the IRS determine
the amount to tax to be withheld from an employees wages
or salary. Most War Tax Resisters include additional allowances
into their W-4 forms in order to prevent withholding of
the amount of tax they intend to resist. Anyone may fill
out a new W-4 at any time, and must do so whenever her
or his exemption status changes.
Employees are responsible for the number
of allowances that they claim on their W-4 forms. Therefore,
employees are not required by law or etiquette to justify
their allowances to employers. The law requires that
only the W-4 form be filled out; you should not return
the worksheet to your employer.
Employers can only reject a W-4 form if 1) a person
has altered or added to any of the printed language
on the W-4, or 2) a person has verbally communicated
that s/he is claiming allowances or exemptions not permitted
by the IRS rules. It is not advisable for a person to
justify their war tax resistance claims to an employer.
Many War Tax Resistors choose to redirect the resisted
taxes into projects that confirm with their conscious
and serve the common good.
6. What is the formula to determine
how much to withhold on my W-4 Form?
The formula to determine the amount of withholding can
adjust from 50%, to 100%, or any other amount of tax
you feel is appropriate to withhold.
In 2006, the first $2,650 of a single person's income
is automatically exempt ($8,000 for a married couple).
Each allowance made on the W-4 exempts another $3,300.
Therefore, the resist war taxes, claim an additional
allowance for each $3,300 amount of the taxable income
to be protected from withholding.
of resisting 50%
A Single Person without children in 2006
Single person with annual wages of
Allowance available for having just one job
Total legal allowances: 2 x $3,300 =
(in 2006 each allowance represents $3,300)
Add the $6,600 to $2,650 (amount exempt from
withholding in 2006) = $9,250
Which represents the amount exempt from taxation
To calculate your estimated taxable income,
subtract that amount from your annual wages ($25,000
- $9,250) = $15,750
To resist 50% of war taxes on that taxable income:
$15,750 x 0.50 = $7,875
needed to reduce withholding to 50% is 7,875/3,300
= 2.39 or 3 additional allowances needed to reduce
your withholding to 50%
Can they take your house away if the amount you owe is
more than you have?
$6,250 of your personal property and household goods is
exempt from seizure. The IRS rarely attempts to enter
homes and seize personal belongings,
except in the case of people who are quite wealthy and
own the IRS large sums of money. The IRS has a policy
of not seizing a person's primary residence, Social Security
or Medicare payments, welfare payments, IRAs or pension
plan proceeds, unless collection is in jeopardy. In general,
the IRS does not seize valuable property to satisfy small
Why are we withholding money for military activities in
Afghanistan did not go to war against the United States.
A small group of terrorists, most of whom died in the
planes, was responsible. They didn't live in Afghanistan,
they lived in Hamburg. They didn't train in Afghanistan,
they trained in Florida. They didn't go to flight school
in Afghanistan, they went to flight school in the mid-west.
They may have been inspired by someone living in Afghanistan,
but that did not give the U.S. the right to invade Afghanistan
weeks after the attack. That is not self-defense.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were huge
crimes - crimes against humanity. But they were not
acts of war. The United Nations Charter, the ultimate
repository of international law AND supreme in U.S.
domestic law since it was ratified by the Senate in
1945, allows a nation to go to war only in two instances:
if approved by the Security Council, or in immediate
self-defense. Neither of those requirements was met.
Article 51 of the Charter allows a country to use military
force in self-defense, but with two important restrictions.
It applies IF an armed attack occurs, but only UNTIL
the Security Council can meet to determine how to respond.
The Council met on September 12, and passed unanimously
and with great fervor and human solidarity the exact
resolution the U.S. had proposed - but that resolution
said NOTHING about going to war against Afghanistan.
Not because the U.S. feared the UN wouldn't approve
it, but because the Bush administration didn't want
to acknowledge the UN's legitimate right to regulate
the use of international force. The Council decision
involved financial efforts to track terror organizations
- not war. If the Pentagon had scrambled fighter jets
to take down the second plane before it hit the second
tower, that would have been self-defense. The U.S. invasion
of Afghanistan was not self-defense, and it was illegal.
And bringing NATO into the picture, with European NATO
troops taking much of the burden off U.S. troops so
more of them can be sent to Iraq, has done nothing to
make the war and occupation of Afghanistan illegal.
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Tax Resistance FAQS