"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..." - Thomas Jefferson
Leaders in the Trump administration have stated their intent to "deconstruct the administrative state" by delegitimizing the government in favor of privatization and abolishing government programs that help everyday Americans in favor of enriching a military-industrial complex that is well above what is needed to keep us safe.
When our elected leaders use our tax dollars to undermine the government we support, we, the people, are within our right to act, using tax resistance -- after First Amendment actions have failed -- to express our conscientious objection.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
As we recognize that deciding to withhold $100 of federal tax payment for 100 days may feel frightening to some people, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions below.
The answers provided are based on information provided by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Since 1982, NWTRCC has represented a coalition of local, regional, and national groups supportive of war tax resistance. NWTRCC is not a party to the 100-Day Tax Strike, but has deep experience using tax resistance as a form of conscientious objection to war and government militarization; we also share their concern about increased military spending and nuclear proliferation by the Trump administration.
While we understand the potential costs associated with tax resistance, we hope that by a) keeping the amount of withholding small and time-limited and b) inspiring people to simply take the Tax Strike 100 pledge as a first step, we can show the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress we cannot be ignored.
*Please note that the statements below should not be construed as legal advice.*
1. What could the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) do if I withhold $100 from my federal tax payment for 100 days?
We believe that if enough people join in time-limited, nominal (small) tax resistance, the government will find it more difficult to pursue any individual for more than a standard financial penalty and interest. Filing for an extension and withholding $100 for 100 days, for example, may result in an I.R.S. collection letter, a late penalty, and added interest, but is unlikely to result in more serious action. The I.R.S. page explains fines and penalties here. That being said, we cannot guarantee how the I.R.S. will respond, and recognize that tax resistance is a more serious form of resistance than marches, petitions, or phone calls.
2. Could I withhold $100 without telling the I.R.S. what I'm doing?
We believe showing the correct tax due, but including a letter stating you are withholding $100 for 100 days as a form of conscientious objection, is the most honest way to deal with the I.R.S. The I.R.S. has provided a memorandum outlining penalties related to "frivolous" claims of conscientious objection versus those that are illegal but not "frivolous." The memorandum states:
"As explained in legislative history, “the penalty [$5,000] could be imposed against any individual filing a ‘return’ showing an incorrect tax due or a reduced tax due, because of the individual’s claim of a clearly unallowable deduction, such as . . . a ‘war tax’ deduction under which the taxpayer reduces his taxable income or shows a reduced tax due by that individual’s estimate of the amount of his taxes going to the Defense Department budget, etc. In contrast, the penalty will not apply if the taxpayer shows the correct tax due but refuses to pay the tax.” S. Rep. No. 97-494, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. 277-78, reprinted in 1982 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News. 781, 1024 (emphasis added). The section 6702 penalty should not be assessed against a taxpayer who encloses with, or attaches to, an otherwise accurate and complete tax return documents articulating frivolous arguments. Congress did not intend for the section 6702 penalty to apply in this limited circumstance."
To ensure a unified message, we have provided a sample letter that Tax Strike 100 participants can use or adapt.
3. What should I do when filing my taxes?
We cannot tell each person exactly how to participate in the 100-Day Tax Strike, as we understand this is a decision each person must make consistent with his or her beliefs and conscience. However, we suggest participants submit and pay their taxes on April 18, 2017, but include a letter stating that -- for moral, ethical, religious, or spiritual reasons -- they are withholding money as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. The letter also lets participants indicate which actions Donald J. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have taken that go against their beliefs. The letter states your understanding that you may incur a penalty for late filing, but are willing to do so to force the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress to take your concerns seriously.
4. How can I protect my assets if I participate in the 100-Day Tax Strike?
We have purposely chosen time-limited, nominal tax resistance so as not to put anyone's assets in jeopardy. For those who hold a major asset, such as a home, you may wish to speak to your bank (if you have a mortgage) and/or a real estate lawyer first to understand how participating in time-limited tax resistance may affect you. While we do not believe the I.R.S. can legally take action beyond imposing a late fee and interest penalty for withholding $100 for 100 days, we suggest contacting professionals if you have concerns. Some people, for example, place their assets in a revocable trust when participating in long-term tax resistance.
5. Can I be put in jail for withholding $100 for 100 days?
By conducting time-limited, nominal tax resistance, we do not believe the government will have sufficient grounds to arrest any participant. Approximately 32 people have gone to jail since World War II related to war tax resistance. Often they were jailed for refusing to tell the I.R.S. about assets – whether they had them or not.
6. What fines or penalties am I likely to incur if I don't pay on April 18, 2017?
If you file an extension on April 18, 2017, and do not include full payment, the I.R.S. will assess a late penalty; more detailed information can be found on the I.R.S. website. Those participating in the tax strike should consult an accountant and/or lawyer to discuss their specific situation.
7. What will happen after 100 days if Donald J. Trump and the Republican Congress have not done anything to address his refusal to release his taxes or conflicts of interest?
For now we are focusing on the first 100 days of this administration and our own parallel resistance. We plan to continue updating this site as the year progresses and are prepared to take further action if needed. We hope, for now, that simply encouraging people to take the pledge will show the administration the depth and breadth of our support.