Following in the tradition of such great Americans as Henry David Thoreau, Black Olympic athlete and social justice activist Eroseanna Robinson was arrested on January 26, 1960 for her refusal to pay her income taxes. The main concern in her day was the threat of nuclear weapons and their radioactive fallout. To US war resisters like Robinson, the fear was not merely that they themselves may fall victim to a nuclear attack, but that their own government might be responsible for a nuclear attack and all of the attending death and suffering that would follow — once again, not two decades out from the first attacks made on Japan.
(See our post from last week here to learn more about Eroseanna Robinson and her arrest)
There has been much discourse in the last several years about taxes, how high or low they should be, and what kinds of people in our society should pay them. Former-President Donald Trump still remains embroiled in the scandal of his alleged tax fraud. Activists constantly remind us that tech billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg and their respective industry giants have never paid their fair share. Indeed, few Americans are not aware of the existence of the tax breaks and other loopholes the ultra-rich use to hoard their wealth and avoid paying taxes.
The refusal to pay taxes due to a refusal to participate in the war economy is a different matter altogether. Many war tax resisters, like Eroseanna Robinson, choose to live extremely simply so as to make less than a taxable income. Other war tax resisters purposely make enough income to be taxable — whether just barely or at an average income level. Some resist 50% of their income taxes — about the percentage that goes to the military.
And the military budget of the US government only continues to grow. It grew under Bush for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; it grew under Obama, even as he promised to end the war in Afghanistan; it grew under Trump, even as he promised to close off-shore military bases; and it continues to grow under Biden as the military-industrial complex demands upgrades and replacements to Cold War nuclear missiles and other doomsday weapons.
As we have watched in horror the Russian invasion of Ukraine lately, many of us have felt powerless to do anything about the situation. The invasion has been shown clearly to be an unjust act of aggression. Even more disturbingly, the Russian nuclear weapons system has been put on alert in anticipation of a direct NATO military intervention. But let us recall that NATO was established to oppose the Soviet Union, which has been gone for over three decades, and that NATO persists to this day primarily because it is too profitable for the military-industrial complex to give up. And the war-profiteer corporations like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics depend largely on government contracts paid for by US tax dollars and, increasingly, funds from other foreign governments eager to keep up. The refusal to pay war taxes in the United States is the refusal to participate in the funding of “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
(Click the image below to download the PDF version of the original clipping. See also the pie chart from War Resisters League “Where Your Income Tax Really Goes FY2022” to see how much of your tax money goes to the military-industrial complex — an updated chart for FY2023 will be out in a few weeks.)
Visit the War Resisters League (WRL) page on war tax resistance to get an overview explanation of the movement. The WRL website is also where you can find the pie chart of federal income tax distribution, as well: https://www.warresisters.org/war-tax-resistance
Learn more about war tax resistance, including how to resist war taxes yourself, and get involved in today’s national war tax resistance movement at the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee website: https://nwtrcc.org/
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“Federal Budget Card.” The Peacemaker. 5 March 1960, Volume 13, Number 4. Page 8.
“Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes FY2022.” War Resisters League. https://www.warresisters.org/store/where-your-income-tax-money-really-goes-fy2022
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