If you thought the last round of protest idiocy was counterproductive, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Just when you think they’ve hit rock bottom, the liberal protests hit new lows. The Guardian recently published an article detailing a revival in “tax resistance,” which is a practice of not paying your taxes to “resist” government:
Andrew Newman always pays his taxes, even if he hates what the government is doing with them. But not this year. For him, Donald Trumpis the dealbreaker. He’ll pay his city and state taxes but will refuse to pay federal income tax as a cry of civil disobedience against the president and his new administration.
Newman is not alone. A nascent movement has been detected to revive the popularity of tax resistance – last seen en masse in America during the Vietnam war but which has been, sporadically, a tradition in the US and beyond going back many centuries.
“My tax money will be going towards putting up a wall on the Mexican border instead of helping sick people. It will contribute to the destruction of the environment and maybe more nuclear weapons. I think there will be a redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy elite and Trump’s campaign for the working man and woman was an absolute fraud. If you pay taxes you are implicated in the system,” said Newman, an associate professor of English and history at Stony Brook University on Long Island, part of the State University of New York.
It is quite amusing that an educator from SUNY academia, which is in part financed by federal funding, managed to list everything he had issue with, while at the same time omitting everything the state does that he does not object to… notably paying his salary.
So, how exactly can a state employee do this, if his taxes are already taken out of his paycheck via payroll?
Newman, 48, regrets that his 2016 taxes have already been automatically taken out of his paycheck. He intends to write to the government accusing the Trump administration of a planned misuse of those public funds. Then he will change his 2017 arrangements so that he will get a bill from the Internal Revenue Service, instead, and will refuse to pay it, donating the money to causes he deems more socially responsible.
Simply changing your pay “arrangements” so your taxes are not omitted is not easy – there is a lengthy (and often difficult) procedure that one must go through. And though the National War Tax Resistance website details the procedures one must take, you are quite naive if you think the IRS will all of a sudden not notice you aren’t paying any federal taxes, especially given the outrageous lengths the institution already goes through to punish taxpayers, all for being a “citizen” of the United States.
Take note: though the Tea Party lodged heavy protest against excessive government and taxation, and the draconian measures the IRS goes through to make life for US citizens miserable, the institution never once set about to advise Americans to break the law, only to do whatever they could within the law to pay as little in taxes as possible. Also take note: the Tea Party protests led to the ouster of several incumbent Republicans and the successful election of many anti-tax Tea Party endorsed politicians, notably Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2012.
So, how do you think the “protest” of tax resistance will go? Apparently, the NWTRCC thinks you’ll be able to just get away with getting a fine and interest bill:
“I’ve been discussing this with friends and colleagues and they are extremely interested,” he said. “People are very responsive but they also say ‘I don’t want to go to jail.’”
He is far more likely simply to be fined and charged interest on the unpaid taxes by the IRS.
“There have been very few people who have spent time in jail for not paying taxes as an explicit act of political resistance,” said Ruth Benn, coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a campaign group that encourages federal tax boycotts in the name of peace and advises citizens on how to go about it.
The committee was created in 1982, around the time Benn stopped paying her federal income tax, as a protest against the nuclear arms race during the cold war.
“I’ve never been taken to court,” she said. IRS agents have questioned her a couple of times, most recently in 2009, saying she owed $40,000 in back taxes. They once took a small amount of money from her bank account, she said, but the consequences have been few – though IRS letters in her mailbox still “put fear in my heart”, she said.
And there’s the truth about Ruth Penn’s tax resistance – In 2009, the IRS said Ruth Penn only “owes” $40,000 in back taxes. If you take 1982 as her “start date” for paying no federal income tax, she owed an average of $1,379 annually in back taxes, including all penalties and interest accrued. So she has either 1) been paying a significant portion of her taxes all along, lying about the extent of her “tax resistance”, or 2) hardly generated any taxable income in 29 years, and still had funds seized from her bank account in spite of the low overall sum she owed to the IRS.
The example of Randy Kehler is likely more pertinent, as he is someone who appears to have earned enough tangible income to become a real target for the IRS for tax resistance:
But some people are bound to get the collywobbles when they look at Randy Kehler. He spent 10 weeks in a county jail in Massachusetts in the early 1990s after years of very publicly refusing to pay taxes in protest at war spending (he also spent 22 months in federal prison for refusing to cooperate with the Vietnam war draft).
In 1989, the feds had tried to seize his house. In a long legal battle, he ended up behind bars, only getting out when the authorities finally auctioned off his and his wife’s house.
Take note: the more you make, the bigger your tax bill is. And a big unpaid tax bill is like a magnet to the IRS. The very public case of Wesley Snipes and his “tax resistance” is a pertinent one to cite:
From 1999 through 2001, Wesley Snipes avoided $7 million in taxes. He surely would have paid it willingly had he known that the government would go after him in a full court press. The government was able to nab a high-earning celebrity and teach a lesson to tax protesters at the same time. Sadly, Mr. Snipes followed an accountant and an anti-tax advocate down a dangerous and costly path.
The advisers claimed that they did not legally have to pay taxes. Sounds alluring, doesn’t it? Snipes was such a well-known figure and high earner—raking in about $40 million from 1999 to 2004—that not paying taxes was hard to fathom. In fact, Mr. Snipes claimed that he relied on Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas P. Rosile. They were convicted of tax fraud and conspiracy, and both got longer prison terms than Mr. Snipes did.
In 2008, Mr. Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns. He was sentenced to three years, and reported to the McKean Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison in Pennsylvania, on December 9, 2010. He finished in 2013 at the adjacent prison camp, a minimum security Club Fed as inmate number 43355-018.
So, tax resistance, at a minimum, will lead you to live your life in fear of the IRS, wondering when they will confiscate funds from your bank account. In the most egregious examples, it will land you in prison, with your assets sold off at auction to fund your unpaid debt to Uncle Sam.
Does tax resistance strike you as a particularly effective form of protest? It shouldn’t, but then again, you’re probably not out there protesting in the first place.
For the record, I’m (obviously) not a fan of excessive and wasteful government spending, and of heavy-handed tactics employed by the IRS to enforce excessive taxation upon US citizens. Like most Americans, I hire an accountant to help me take as many deductions as possible, and to be sure I pay the absolute lowest amount in taxes within the confines of the law. If for whatever reason I were to get audited, after an initial stage of cursing and venting frustration at the IRS for wrongfully targeting me, I’d go about providing them whatever they needed to demonstrate that what I paid in income taxes is indeed correct.
Nearly everyone in this country has issue with something, if not more, that the federal government wastes money on. Of the myriad of federal agencies, which are already for the most part incredibly unpopular with Americans, the IRS likely ranks at or near the bottom of the list. The only thing a “tax resistance” protest against Trump will accomplish is to have the IRS breathing down your neck for the rest of your life, or until you pay all the back taxes you owe plus a massive penalty. The Tea Party was THE anti-tax movement, and even they advocated no such thing.
But then again, it takes the mind of a liberal protester to go down the route of thinking this will be a productive protest, especially considering Trump is the “law and order” President. Whatever you think is or isn’t in his tax returns, he’s certainly paid a lot of federal taxes in his lifetime, and isn’t likely to turn a blind eye to those choosing to pay nothing to protest him.
Just when you think protesters have hit rock bottom… they hit a new low. It would be sad, but at this point, its all become so amusing, it’s hard not to laugh.