You'd be surprised how easy it is to stop paying war taxes
You're against the war in Iraq, and the "Doctor Evil"-like neocon fantasy of world domination. You're against the bafflingly misguided economic policy of vast deficit spending to support military adventures. In short, the government has long since lost your moral support.
And yet, with every paycheck you earn, you're paying taxes that subsidize the same government and the same policies you oppose. If only you knew how easy it is to cure this ethical schizophrenia.
Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, famously dismissed the people who were protesting against the arms race by saying, "let them march all they want, so long as they continue to pay their taxes."
And that just about pegs it: Write all the letters-to-the-editor you want, carry your signs and banners downtown, practice your chants and put that bumper-sticker on your car - the folks in power don't much care: that sort of thing has never gotten in their way before. If you're still paying your taxes, the government can consider you a supporter no matter what you've got on your T-shirt or your weblog.
The conventional wisdom is that "death and taxes" are life's inevitables. But the conventional wisdom has got it wrong. As it turns out, the federal income tax is far from inevitable.
Today, about 25% of the people who file federal income tax returns in the United States end up with a big zero on the line that says how much they owe. It may sound incredible, but a quarter of U.S. "taxpayers" don't pay any federal income tax at all.
I swear I'm not trying to sell you something - I don't have some shady overseas investment scheme or an invitation to a seminar about some weird legal theory that makes the IRS roll their eyes and call their lawyers. I'm just telling you the facts as they are: Lots and lots of people in the United States don't pay taxes because they don't have to.
How do they do it? Most of them just plain don't earn enough money to rise above the threshold of taxation in the first place. The number of convenient tax deductions available to low-income filers has increased in recent years, and now it's easy to earn a low but comfortable income that keeps you below the tax line but still keeps the wolf far from your door.
Now that you know how many income tax filers are not helping to row the ship of state - ask yourself: why do I continue to row? You see where the ship is going. You know who's at the helm. And now you know that to avoid being an accessory to the crime is so easy that fully one quarter of your fellow "taxpayers" are getting away with it.
This year I made more money than 90% 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 those shady dodges. If the IRS comes and audits my returns next year, I won't have anything to be afraid of - I'll come out smelling like a rose!
Go on strike! You'd do it for more pay, better benefits, and safer working conditions, so why not go on strike to protect your conscience from participation in what you know to be wrong? Why not go on strike and take back for yourself those hours of the day you used to spend working to satisfy the warped spending priorities of a bunch of craven politicians?
Yes, you may have to make less money than you're making now - I'm making about a quarter of what I was before I stopped paying taxes. You'll still be filthy rich compared to most of mankind, and if that isn't good enough for you I'm sorry because you're not likely to find a better deal.
Ask yourself what you'd have to change in your life in order to live under the tax threshold, and then start doing it. Get out of debt, watch your spending, reconsider expensive pastimes and possessions. The best things in life are free, so start taking bigger helpings.
And here's something to sweeten the pot: earning less money takes less time - so you'll have more time to enjoy those best things in life.
It feels good to wash the blood from your hands, to be living a life where your actions match your principles. But a step like this isn't only a personal gesture of withdrawal - it can be a potent call for change:
If you and your friends hold up a banner in front of the federal building, well, that's just a sign. But if you and your friends go on strike - that's a Sign. It's a sign that you're really fed up, that you're not just going to complain about it but you're going to change the way you're living to do something about it. And that's a sign that the politicians will sit up and take notice of because it's written in money, a language that they understand.
Dave Gross runs a weblog about his experience with tax resistance at http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/