This War Threatens Our Democracy
Tax Resistance Is Easy. Why Won't We Say So?
Two News Stories the IRS Would Rather You Not Read
Woman Triumphs over IRS in Million-dollar Tax Case
Former IRS Agent Says: Don't Worry about Paying Taxes
April 12, 2004
On October 15, speaking on the steps of the Federal Building in San Francisco, former tree-sitter, author and internationally-known environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill announced her intention to re-direct more than $150,000 in Federal taxes from the Pentagon and instead, direct it into various not-for-profit social services and environmental organizations. Hill stated that her reason for re-directing the tax money was "to speak out and stand up against the devastating effects of the US-led war machine." Hill's refusal is considered the single-largest act of war-tax resistance in US history.
|Julia addresses a packed crowd at Slee Hall during an event hosted by the UB Green program of the State University of New York at Buffalo.|
'This War Threatens Our Democracy'
Julia Butterfly Hill
The full text of Julia Butterfly Hill's October 15, 2003 statement.
The annual US military spending far exceeds that of China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Libya combined. Yet, for all this spending, we as a nation are not safer, only more brutal. We live in a time of profoundly devastating war -- a war that threatens our democracy, human rights, free speech, education, health care, social security, environment and of course, there is the murdering of an unknown tens of thousands of innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq who we dare to marginalize as casualties.
United States soldiers are being killed nearly every day. And what is this war for? To protect the big-money oil interests of the elite. Now the Bush administration is demanding $87 BILLION DOLLARS from US citizens to rebuild a country that was destroyed by our bombs on the exaggerated pretense of Iraqs alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, the greatest accumulations of weapons of mass destruction exist right here -- in the United States. These weapons of death are funded by US citizens tax dollars stolen from the basic necessities that better our society such as social services, education, health care and the safeguarding of human rights and our environment.
For example, under the Bush tax cuts that help to provide for war funding, Medicaid benefits are cut by $93 billion; food stamps will be cut by $13 billion; temporary assistance for needy families will be cut by $8 billion and in a move that reminds us who truly benefits from war and who loses, $14.6 billion is being cut from benefits for veterans, including money for disabilities.
Furthermore, our tax dollars are not only being spent to build the largest death machine humankind has ever known, but also the largest prison industrial complex in the world.
We seem to be able to come up with endless billions for war, yet we have children without textbooks in schools that are falling apart, where it is statistically more likely for a child of color to end up in prison than to get into college, where the laws that protect air and water quality and biodiversity are being destroyed, and health services are not equally accessible to all citizens as is the case in every other civilized nation on earth.
I was raised by Christian parents who taught me about the Ten Commandments, the first of which is Thou shall not kill. Paying for the murder of innocent people with my tax dollars is something that I cannot do in good conscience. It goes against every moral fiber of my being to support this cycle of uncontrolled madness, especially at the expense of such critical human necessities.
I find it especially disturbing to see the Bush administration's blatant ties to convicted corporate criminals such as Halliburton, which formed 35 offshore tax shelters when Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO. While Halliburton has been avoiding paying untold millions of dollars in federal taxes, it was awarded a closed-door, no-bid contract from the Bush Administration to secure the oil supply of Iraq.
Unfortunately, this is just one example of the many instances where a corrupt system allows politically connected mega-corporations to avoid paying taxes while the working class is forced to pay subsidies for big business with their hard-earned tax dollars.
Thousands of others before me have taken this stand. I am not avoiding paying taxes. I have thought through this very carefully, and with a clear mind and heart I am humanely re-directing my tax payments to where they belong, because our current federal government refuses to do so.
Julia Butterfly Hill is the author of The Legacy of Luna and The Power of One and the founder of the Circle Of Life Foundation (which got its start as an Earth Island Institute project). She is currently touring the US and inspiring others to make a difference. For more information: www.circleoflife.org.
Tax Resistance Is Easy. Why Won't We Say So?
This letter was sent to The-Edge in response to Gar Smith's Edge article,
"War Strike," written on April 11, 2003 and syndicated on the AlterNet news service.
I read your article on war tax resistance on AlterNet. I hope you will revisit this issue in your writing because something wonderful happened while we weren't paying attention -- war tax resistance became easy.
Today 25 percent of the people in the United States who file income tax returns end up owing nothing at all. Fully one quarter of Americans live under the tax line. A prospective war tax resister no longer has to join a lonely fraternity of persecuted conscientious objectors, but instead just has to do what one in four Americans already do.
The war tax resistance movement has been caught flat-footed. The 2003 edition of War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military is so behind-the-times that it suggests that tax resistance through income reduction is an arduous undertaking only for the brave: "For most people in this country, this is not a realistic option, and it leaves them little room to incorporate war tax resistance into their lives. Promotion of this method may discourage people who might otherwise be sympathetic to war tax resistance."
How far this is from reality! And how discouraging it is to find this in a book supposedly devoted to encouraging war tax resistance! Far from being the case that "for most people in this country, this is not a realistic option." In fact, for a quarter of the people in this country, it is already a fact of life!
The question should not be "are you up to the challenge of joining the few brave souls who are risking extreme poverty to avoid taxes?" but "while 25 percent of this country is successfully avoiding supporting the war machine, what is your excuse for continuing to subsidize it?"
We should give a more accurate picture of how easy it is to resist taxes in this way. A single person, under 65, with no dependents and perfect eyesight can still earn $20,000 or more and not pay taxes -- without using some crackpot legal theory that makes the IRS roll their eyes and call their lawyers.
This year, I made more money than 90-95% of the people on Earth and I'm not paying a dime of it in federal income tax. And I'm not trying to declare myself a sovereign citizen of Freedonia, or insisting that income isn't really "income," or hiding my money in Barbados, or any of that nonsense. I'm using legitimate exemptions and deductions in a completely above-board manner, because, as with 25 percent of the rest of us, the IRS is happy to say I don't owe them anything.
Those of us in the war tax resistance movement would be doing a better service by promoting and explaining the income tax deductions that make this sort of thing possible than we are by publishing outdated and discouraging information.
On my weblog at www.sniggle.net/Experiment I discuss my ongoing experiment in tax resistance and what I'm learning along the way.
Two News Stories the IRS Would Rather You Not Read....
Woman Triumphs over IRS In Million-dollar Tax Case
WorldNetDaily.com and News Sources
(August 12, 2003) -- On August 8, 2003, in a Memphis Federal Court, Vernice ("Vernie") Kuglin was found not guilty of six counts of tax evasion and willful failure to file tax returns. Ms. Kuglin's Attorneys Larry Becraft and Robert G. Bernhoft told reporters that Kuglin was indicted seven months ago and had refused to plead the case out for a lesser sentence.
On Friday afternoon, the five-day trial ended when the jury returned not guilty verdicts on all counts. Jurors declared Kuglin, 58, not guilty of evading $920,000 in taxes. Barbara Snodgrass, one of the jurors, told the paper the panel chose to acquit Kuglin because "we all felt that the prosecution didn't prove its case."
After the jury had been excused, the US Attorney demanded that the judge order the defendant to file her forms, pay her taxes and obey the law.
The judge refused, advising the US Attorney curtly: "Sir, I don't work for the IRS."
"I think it is safe to assume the IRS will attempt civil collection, but she is not guilty of tax evasion," defense attorney Bernhoft told the Commercial Appeal newspaper. Kuglin told reporters: "I feel justified." Kuglin could have received up to 30 years in prison.
Government prosecutors claimed she filed false W-4 forms for the years 1996 through 2001. Kuglin said she had paid taxes like most other wage earners until about a decade ago, when she began to question the tax code. She researched legal documents, court cases and the tax code itself, but claimed she could not find a specific section that stated she is liable to pay taxes. Rather, she found a series of contradictions.
In 1995, Kuglin wrote to the IRS twice with questions about her obligation to pay taxes, but said she never received a response. Federal prosecutors said Kuglin had an opportunity to sit down and discuss her obligations with the IRS but failed to do so. Kuglin left open the possibility of future IRS cooperation, without admitting she owes any money. "I will pay all the taxes for which I am liable," she told reporters.
Following the jury's acquittal verdict, defense attorney Becraft stated that the federal tax code "at best is a walking due-process violation."
Former IRS Agent Says: 'Don't Worry about Paying Taxes'
Excerpted from a San Francisco Chronicle report by Henry K. Lee
(January 13, 2004) -- Joseph Banister was a gun-toting Internal Revenue Service special agent who investigated tax cheats for six years. Now, the San Jose certified public accountant is in hot water for telling clients that they don't have to pay taxes.
Bannister was an IRS criminal investigator from 1993 until he resigned in 1999 because he felt that he was breaking the law by investigating alleged scofflaw taxpayers. Banister has failed to pay his taxes since then. He operates a Web site that proclaims "The Income Tax is a Hoax" and features a picture of him holding a gun next to the headline, "Feeling Outgunned?"
His theory: Those who owe income tax are Americans who have foreign-earned income or foreign investments and nonresident aliens who come to the United States to work. "But the average American, just living here, working here, as far as I can tell, does not," Banister said.
"They commit deceit and fraud against people," Banister, 40, of San Jose said. "There's plenty of ways they could do it legitimately, but cheating people seems to fill their coffers the best so they keep doing it that way."
Banister has advised clients they don't have to file income-tax returns on the grounds that the 16th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to collect income taxes, was not properly ratified and that only foreign-sourced income is taxable.
The IRS disagrees. "This frivolous argument -- and others -- have consistently been rejected by the federal courts," IRS spokesman Jesse Weller in Oakland said.
In a December 24 ruling, administrative law Judge William Moran ordered Banister not to represent tax clients before the IRS. "The very significant problem with Banister's advice to his clients is that it is absolutely wrong," Moran wrote.
Robert Barnes, a Milwaukee attorney representing Banister, said that he intends to appeal the judge's decision, saying he wrongly denied Banister the chance to fully present his case. "Pretty much the government's response routinely in all of these cases is to say, 'Well, your idea's so bad we don't allow your ideas to be debated,' " Barnes said.
Banister said he is ready for the prospect of being on the receiving end of IRS special agents, many of whom now shun him and refuse to take his calls. But he insisted that some ex-IRS employees support his beliefs.
He quit after telling his bosses, "If you can't show me the error of my analysis, I can't continue in my job because I'd be breaking the law." Their response, he said, was "Fine, if that's your position, get the hell out of here."
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
For more information contact: