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Are you praying for peace and paying for war?

Write-Off: The Tax Blog

I am the curator of The Tax Museum, the largest collection of tax artifacts in southern Chapel Hill (probably, we may have unknown rival tax museums). This means that every once in a while, usually late at night, I just roam around the internet looking for interesting tax things on the internet, some of which could eventually be tied to physical items I could acquire for my collection. I recently ran across the website of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, and, ordered some items from their store. These items were promptly and personally shipped, and I was delighted with these items.

What is the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee? It is a group of folks that assert, correctly, that crazy amounts of money are spent by the U.S. government on its military. There are only about 20 countries on earth whose entire GDP is more than just the military spending of the U.S. government, which is around $700,000,000,000.00 these days. These vast sums of money are used to fight wars, which end in people getting killed, wounded, and, otherwise destroying life. The committee holds that those opposed to war should have no role in funding that government, and should refuse to pay taxes that support war. They completely understand such refusal has consequences—indeed, all over their site, and, in the literature they sent me, are references to “consequences.” But, my impression is these are extremely principled people who are not just looking for a way out of paying taxes, but rather, who really hate war, and will do whatever they can to stop it, regardless of the consequences.

This is a tax blog, and, not necessarily the place for opinions on the net benefits or costs of the U.S.’s extremely vast (and expensive—where the taxes come in!) war policies and practices.* Certainly there are a lot of bad people in this world who wish the U.S., its citizens, and its allies, a great deal of harm, and, many are unlikely to respond to being asked nicely to leave us alone. But, regardless of your feelings on war, or defense, etc., my interactions with this committee has left me with many thoughts, including this one: What a free country we live in! These folks literally set up a website, with physical addresses, that encourages people to violate the law based on extremely deeply held moral convictions. The material I was sent was not sent from a prison. These people are allowed to roam free, despite their political beliefs, and actively voice strong disagreement with the government. There are many places that simply would not fly. For sure some of them are facing consequences for their tax evasion, but, from their site, I am not seeing any consequences of their political activism. Amazing. Freedom!

*One interesting note–we would generally talk about “defense policy.” Just like we have we have a “Department of Defense.” Before 1947, we had the less euphemistically named “Department of War.”

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