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More People Are Evading Taxes Over Iraq War

From an approvaing Seattle Times:

Increasingly, war tax resisters defy IRS over Iraq war

By Wayne Woolley

Bryan Nelson’s federal tax return says he owes $3,082. So he mailed his 1040 form to the IRS in time to meet today’s filing deadline. But for the second year in a row, Nelson did not send what he owes.

His reason: “I wasn’t going to pay for an illegal war in Iraq.”

Nelson, 26, of New Brunswick, N.J., told the IRS that in a letter included with his 2006 tax return and did the same thing last year, when he owed about $1,100. Both times, he included a list of charities to which he sent the money instead. One is an organization that aids wounded war veterans.

In taking this step, Nelson joined an estimated 10,000 Americans who will not pay federal taxes or pay only a portion of what they owe as a means of protesting the Iraq war or the nation’s defense expenditures.

The IRS says opposition to government policies is no excuse for not giving Uncle Sam his due.

“Taxpayers have a right to express their opinions,” the agency said. “The actions of expressing your opinion and also fulfilling your legal responsibilities of filing and paying taxes on a timely basis are separate issues.”

Nelson, a union organizer, considers his action one of civil disobedience. He knows his decision could lead to penalties, including fines or jail.

“It’s a serious act to violate the law,” he said. “I respect the law and the tax system. I’m not trying to evade taxes. I’m just trying to minimize my complicity in what the government is doing.”

Although there is no evidence that opposition to the war in Iraq portends an increase in people who practice war-tax resistance, there are signs it is stoking interest in the practice, which dates to the Revolutionary War.

The renewed interest is being tracked by Ed Hedemann, 62, of Brooklyn, who helped found the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee in 1982.

Hits on his organization’s Web site have grown from about 150 a day three years ago to about 800 a day.

“Obviously, not everybody who looks at our site is going to participate in war-tax resistance, but this is at least an indication of the interest,” Hedemann said.

Another sign of interest is the introduction of legislation in Congress to allow people opposed to military spending on religious or moral grounds to have their tax dollars go to federal agencies not involved in defense.

The legislation, which has been introduced in every congressional session since 1972, is expected to have 45 co-sponsors this year, the largest ever, according to the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, a Washington organization lobbying for the measure.

People like Hedemann aren’t waiting for a change in the tax code. The peace activist hasn’t sent the IRS a dime since 1970 and instead has forwarded the $70,000 he owes for his work as a freelance writer and photographer to charity. The government has yet to collect. In general, the IRS cannot collect personal income taxes owed for more than 10 years.

“Sure, they come after me on a regular basis,” he said. “But one of the things that helps me is that I file. I don’t do anything funny with my forms. Plus, I’m self-employed and don’t make a lot of money.”

The closest the government came was in 1999, when Hedemann ended up in federal court. He escaped having to pay what the IRS said he owed.

Peter Goldberger, the lawyer who represented Hedemann, was not surprised. The defense attorney who practices in suburban Philadelphia has represented dozens of war-tax resisters.

He said that in general, the IRS goes easier on war-tax resisters than on the far larger universe of people who aren’t paying because they simply want to keep the money or because they are affiliated with groups that claim the federal government is not legally entitled to collect taxes.

“Some of these folks go out of their way not to earn a taxable income,” Goldberger said of the war resisters. Others generally file timely returns and explain why they’re not paying some or all of what they owe.

“That protects them against most of the penalties the IRS can impose. Penalties are geared toward the level of deceit,” Goldberger said.

The federal government filed criminal charges against war-tax resisters fewer than 50 times since World War II.

Nelson, the New Brunswick man, expects the IRS will come after him for what he owes and is mentally prepared for the worst.

“Jail is extremely rare,” he said. “But if it’s the price I have to pay, it’s the price I have to pay.”

We have noted how some of the (ironically) taxpayer supported 501c3 groups are promoting the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee’s illegal efforts.

The aforementioned National Campaign For A Peace Fund is another exemplary group. They are a 501c3 that lobbies Congress (through a 501c4 sister organization) and encourages people to evade their taxes.

And of course Cindy Sheehan has announced she refuses to pay her taxes. (Not that she ever did before.)

But has any of this really had any effect? 

Note that the headline claims:

Increasingly, war tax resisters defy IRS over Iraq war

While then the article states:

Although there is no evidence that opposition to the war in Iraq portends an increase in people who practice war-tax resistance

Of course the author wants the headline to come true. Indeed, the article is largely an endorsement and advertisement for the practice.

Don’t worry you conscientious tax evaders, “jail is extremely rare.”

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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