Sunday, January 02, 2005

Don't Pay for This War!

Martin Luther King used to say "No one can ride your back unless its bent." It is time for the American people to unbend their backs and stop paying for a war that is robbing us of our sons and daughters, bankrupting the country, and creating so much anger against us in the world that we may be in greater danger of terrorism than ever before.

In the coming weeks, I will be researching and posting tips for reducing the amount of money we spend financing this immoral war. Please feel free add your comments and tips for liberating ourselves from the war mongers.

Realistically, it is impossible to entirely avoid contributing toward this war. If you buy a winter jacket, no doubt somewhere along the line, the federal government gets its cut. Still, the more your reduce your tax bill, the harder it is for Uncle Sam to finance the weapons that blow arms off of children.

I am offering a set of suggestions ranging from the highly conventional to the more radical.

1. Open a traditional IRA and contribute the maximum amount to it. You can deduct the amount of money contributed--up to $3, 000--from your taxes. If your purpose for opening an IRA is war tax resistance, don't open a Roth IRA as you cannot deduct money invested in these accounts from your taxes.

It is important to avoid investing this money with defense contractors. You may want to consider investing in mutual funds administered by Pax World Funds. Their website is located at http://www.paxworld.com. This company refuses to invest in military industries and favors investing in companies which are eco-friendly, have fair-hiring practices, and promote international development. Investing in the stock market is always risky, but then again, so is war.

2. If you have children you are planning to send to college, you may want to open a Coverdell account, which is specifically set up to meet educational expenses. The money you contribute to these accounts is not tax-deductible, but money in the account grows without being taxed until withdrawal. In a conventional savings account, you would be required to pay taxes on the interest. While this is not a great way of avoiding taxes, it is better than sticking the money in a CD.

3. If you are an employee of a non-profit institution--like a school teacher--you can open a 403b. These accounts allow you to save much more than an IRA does. You can save up to $13, 000 a year and the money going into these accounts is not taxed until withdrawal. The programs available for investment vary from region to region and must be researched carefully.


4. Hang up on war. Refuse to pay the federal excise tax on your phone bill. Usually, there are two separate taxes, one for local service and one for long distance service. If your local and long distance service are provided by the same company, you have to look for the taxes in two places on the bill.

Every month when paying your phone bill, simply deduct the amount of the excise tax from the total due and pay the full bill minus the federal excise tax. Enclose a note with your check, explaining that you are refusing to pay the tax as a statement of opposition to the war. Ask that the company deduct this amount from your bill. The company will report to the IRS that you are not paying the tax. Usually, this report is done on a quarterly basis.

For more information, visit the website: http://www.hanguponwar.org/

Generally, the risk of doing this is small. The cost to the IRS of collecting such small sums of money is greater than the benefit; hence, they rarely pursue people engaging in this form of resistance.

5. Reduce your purchases. There are various kinds of taxes already hidden in the goods you buy. These are usually paid by the producers of those goods. By reducing your consumption, you are reducing the taxes you pay.

For more information, see the website of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. http://www.nwtrcc.org/

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