You Don't Have to Pay for War

Andy Mager

The Bush administration continues to move ahead with its plans for war despite tens of millions of people demonstrating, contacting elected officials, signing statements against the war and more. This has left many people wondering what else they can do. Protests which appeal to elected officials to heed our concerns are valuable.

But there is also an important role for nonviolent resistance—for actions which seek to directly create the world in which we want to live by acting on our deeply held convictions. One such approach is refusing to pay for governments to wage war. War tax resistance has a long tradition in the US, beginning with Quakers and other religious pacifists, continuing with Henry David Thoreau, radical abolitionists and more recent nonviolent activists.

In the middle of April, I will again refuse to pay federal income taxes. I have taken this stand of conscientious opposition to war for all of my adult life. With a US attack on Iraq appearing imminent, the clarity of my convictions is reinforced. I will redirect the money that would otherwise go to the IRS to perhaps a dozen local, national and international organizations which carry out the life-affirming work which I believe government should be doing.

Most war tax resistance violates federal law. There are a variety of methods that people use to redirect their money from the Pentagon. The specific risks depend on a variety of factors. While very few people have been imprisoned, many have had their money or other assets seized.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is circulating "A Call to Non-Cooperation with the War on Iraq" for people who are ready to commit themselves to refusing to pay for a US war. A second statement is being circulated for those who wish to publicly support war tax resisters. Both statements, as well as background information, are available from: NWTRCC, PO Box 6512, Ithaca, NY 14851, 1-800-269-7464,, email:

People interested in learning more about war tax resistance are invited to a discussion on Tuesday, March 25, at 7:00 pm at the Peace Council.

Andy Mager is the co-coordinator of the Peace Council and an advocate of nonviolent resistance.