A tax resistance clinic sponsored by the New England War Tax Resistance (NEWTR) last night attracted a group of approximately 15 people who shared anger and frustration that their federal tax dollars support the nation's military policy.
Tax resisters in the presentation compared the nation's military policy in Central America to Hitlerism in Germany and said that their tax resistance was "a direct reaction to the government's extension of the military--an establishment which is inefficient."
"I won't pay for war, death, or nuclear annihilation. I might die that way, but it won't be by my own hand," a spokesman for the group said.
All those who attended the clinic at the Community Church on Boylston St. in Boston voiced anti-militaristic sentiments, and several had previously been involved in other movements such as draft resistance, phone tax resistance and "Food Not Bombs" groups.
The message of the NEWTR was presented in a 30-minute slide presentation entitled "More Than A Paycheck."
According to spokesmen, tax resistance in the United States has its roots in the Revolutionary War. During the Vietnam War as well tax resistance was popular. Prominent tax resisters in the 1960's included Joan Baez, Alan Ginsberg, Gloria Steinhem and Pete Seeger, the presentation said.
Ed Agro, one of two part-time staff people at NEWTR, said that the IRS estimated approximately 20,000 income tax resisters in the country at the end of the Vietnam War.
"Since then, the numbers have grown. There are now approximately 30 or 40 thousand declared tax resisters and many more undeclared," Agro said.
Tax resistance is illegal, but it has been defended in court, said Becky Pierce, coordinator of the monthly NEWTR tax resistance clinic series.
According to NEWTR representatives, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will first try to access tax resisters' liquid sources such as paychecks and accounts, then cars and real estate.
"But cars and real estate are lengthy affairs, so they don't like to do that," Pierce said.
"You can't go to jail for tax resistance. You can only go to jail if you are guilty of contempt of court by refusing to show financial records if summoned," Pierce said. "If you don't file, it makes it much harder for the IRS to get your money. It means more work for the IRS since they must file your return with approximated figures and assess your tax for you."
NEWTR provides several alternatives for tax resisters. It maintains an escrow fund into which tax resisters can deposit their tax money for an indefinite amount of time. This fund is a security for tax resisters who later decide to pay their debt to the IRS, organizers said.
"The IRS can't seize this money since it is deposited in NEWTR funds anonymously," Pierce said. "At present, the fund is safe," she added.
Another program, a Tax Resistance Penalty Fund, reimburses people if they are charged or penalized by the IRS, a spokesman for the group said.
The Direct Giving Fund is another alternative for tax resisters.
"This fund is for people who feel secure about resisting. They give directly to an organization. Their money is never returnable as in the escrow fund," Pierce said.
Pierce announced that there will be a Tax Day Demonstration at the John F. Kennedy Building in Boston on April 15.