On Being Brave And War Tax Resistance
“You’re so brave. I wish I could do that.” A personal account of war tax resistance.
(National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Erica Leigh) It’s been almost ten years since I decided to start resisting war taxes. It’s been about eight years since I was actually able to start resisting the payment of some portion of my taxes.
I don’t think of myself as a particularly brave person. Sometimes I find the potential consequences of resistance daunting, just as I did when I was a new resister (although the concerns are different now). On the other hand, some folks don’t feel any fear or nervousness after making this decision.
That’s not me.
Civil disobedience is sticking your neck out in some way. This particular form of it doesn’t always involve showing up in public somewhere, breaking the law in a discrete way, and getting arrested. Instead, it’s a civil disobedience that you do every day, and some days might be more challenging than others.
I don’t get too nervous about tangling with the bureaucracy, having money seized from my accounts, or enduring temporary financial hardship. The IRS is a joke – it represents a fundamentally unjust and ineffective system that I don’t want to cooperate with. I’ve been both privileged and lucky to be able to make resistance work for me, as someone who doesn’t make much money but still owes some taxes.
Mostly what makes me nervous is the prospect of explaining my actions to someone who could deny me work or a place to live, or who would disagree so deeply with me that they would not want to maintain a connection with me. Basically, I hate confrontation and I spend time being worried about the possibility of it.
At the same time though, I’m never scared enough to give up: start paying taxes again, start contributing to the war machine. The risks of not doing this are greater.
But I didn’t have to have it all figured out to begin. I read NWTRCC’s Practical War Tax Resistance pamphlets and our flyer on the W-4 (pictured). I also learned from the wisdom of our network of resisters, and over time, I reduced my W-4 withholding, donated money, and restructured my life and finances. I talked with my family and friends, I spoke out about war.
If fear of consequences is keeping you from resisting, I hope some of the stories and facts on NWTRCC’s Consequences page are reassuring. Please get in touch with us or with a local contact or counselor if you have questions or concerns about starting your own war tax resistance. We are here to support you!