History of tax resistance

History of tax resistance

Tax resistance has probably existed as long as those in a position of power have imposed taxes. This page describes briefly some notable historical examples of tax resistance.

Jewish Zealots, 1st century A.D.

In the first century A.D., Jewish Zealots in Judaea resisted the poll tax instituted by the Roman empire. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 1-7] Jesus was accused of promoting tax resistance prior to his torture and execution (“We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King” — Luke 23:2). [Swartley, W.M. "The Christian and the Payment of Taxes Used for War" 1980 [http://peace.mennolink.org/articles/wartaxes.html] ] :"See also: Render unto Caesar..."


In the 16th century, Hutterites refused to pay taxes for war or capital punishment. One wrote:

For war, killing, and bloodshed (where it is demanded especially for that) we give nothing, but not out of wickedness or arbitrariness, but out of the fear of God (1 Timothy 5) that we may not be partakers in strange sins. [Bender, Harold S. “Taxation” "Mennonite Encyclopedia", Vol. IV (1959)]
Another wrote:
[When] the government requires of us what is contrary to our faith and conscience — as swearing oaths and paying hangman’s dues or taxes for war — then we do not obey its command. [Friedmann, Robert “Claus Felbinger’s Confession of 1560” "Mennonite Quarterly Review" XXIX (April 1955) p. 147, and Klaassen, Walter "Anabaptism: Neither Catholic nor Protestant" (1973), p. 56]

English Civil War

In 1627, John Hampden was imprisoned for his opposition to the loan Charles I authorised without parliamentary sanction, and he also refused to pay ship money to the Royal Navy. The attempts to imprison resisters like Hampden led to the English Civil War. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 9-16]

From the summer of 1646 through 1648, the city of London refused to pay taxes to the New Model Army which was occupying the city. [Gentles, Ian “The Struggle for London in the Second Civil War” "The Historical Journal" 1983]

Algonquin resistance

In 1637, the Algonquin resisted being taxed by Dutch colonialists to pay for improvements to Fort Amsterdam.

French and Indian War

In the mid-18th century, American Quaker John Woolman led many Quakers to question and refuse the payment of taxes to pay for the French and Indian War. In 1755, Woolman addressed the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with his concern, saying in part:

Some of our members, who are officers in civil government, are, in one case or other, called upon in their respective stations to assist in things relative to the wars; but being in doubt whether to act or crave to be excused from their office, if they see their brethren united in the payment of a tax to carry on the said wars, may think their case not much different, and so might quench the tender movings of the Holy Spirit in their minds. Thus, by small degrees, we might approach so near to fighting that the distinction would be little else than the name of a peaceable people. [Gummere, A.M. (ed.) "The Journal and Essays of John Woolman" (see also "The Harvard Classics: The Journal of John Woolman", "The Journal of John Woolman" 1872 edition, pages 124-129, and "We Won't Pay" pages 20-23) [http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=woolman] ]
A group of several like-minded Quakers, including John Woolman, John Churchman and Anthony Benezet then sent a letter to other meetings, which read in part:
[B] eing painfully apprehensive that the large sum granted by the late Act of Assembly for the king’s use is principally intended for purposes inconsistent with our peaceable testimony, we therefore think that as we cannot be concerned in wars and fightings , so neither ought we to contribute thereto by paying the tax directed by the said Act, though suffering be the consequence of our refusal, which we hope to be enabled to bear with patience. [Farrington, Abraham, "et al.", "Dear and Well Beloved Friends" (letter) 16 December 1755, as found in Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 23-25]

The “Regulator” movement

The Regulator movement against the corrupt colonial administration of North Carolina from around 1767 to 1771 presaged the American Revolution. It began with organized groups of rural North Carolinans refusing to pay inflated taxes to corrupt authorities, and eventually built to an armed rebellion (which was crushed). [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 77-79]

American revolution

American colonists used various methods of tax resistance to resist the British in the years leading up to the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party action, the Gaspée Affair, and “spinning bees” in which revolutionary-minded women would make untaxed domestic cloth (prefiguring Gandhi’s homespun cloth campaign) and a boycott of other taxed goods. [Macdonald, Anne "No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting" 1988, Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 81-90]

:"See also: "

After the revolution was underway, taxes instituted by the American patriot side were also widely resisted. One 1781 tax in Connecticut, for example, was designed to raise £288,233 but raised only £40,000 due to unwillingness to pay. [Pole, J.R. & Greene, J.P. "A Companion to the American Revolution" (2003)] Some Quaker meetings recommended that their members not pay taxes to the revolutionary governments, and other Quakers refused to use Continental currency which the revolutionary governments were using for seigniorage. [Coffin, Linda B. (ed.) "Handbook on Military Taxes & Conscience" Friends Committee on War Tax Concerns, 1988, p. 46+; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 90-114]

African-American protests against taxation without representation

In 1780, African-American Paul Cuffe and his brother resisted the state tax of Massachusetts. Cuffe wrote to the state legislature: “While we are not allowed the privilege of free men of the state having no vote or influence in the election with those that tax us. Yet many of our color, as is well known, have cheerfully entered the field of battle in the defense of the common cause.” [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 115-117] (In 1783 free, taxpaying African-Americans in Massachusetts were given full citizenship rights, including the right to vote.)Fact|date=February 2007

Tax resistance during the French Revolution

During the French Revolution and its aftermath, customs houses were burned by mobs, tax rolls were destroyed, and excise collectors were made to renounce their jobs and then were run out of town (or in some cases killed). Popular tax resistance was directed both against the toppling monarchy and against the governments that would try to replace it. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won’t Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" (ISBN 1434898253), pp. 139-153]

Tax resistance against Charles X of France

When Charles X of France attempted to bypass the legislature and enact its own taxes in 1829, French liberals in the Breton Association organized tax resistance and created a fund to defray the costs of any tax resisters who were prosecuted. Six Parisian newspapers who printed the Association’s manifesto were prosecuted by the crown. Fifteen regional organizations, including "Refus de l’impôt" and "Association parisienne", were formed specifically to engage in tax resistance. [Rader, Daniel L. “The Breton Association and the Press: Propaganda for ‘Legal Resistance’ before the July Revolution” "French Historical Studies" 1961; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 155-160]

Tax resistance in Georgian England

In the 1820s and 1830s, activists like William Benbow and Thomas Wooler and groups such as the National Union of the Working Classes and National Political Union advocated and practiced tax resistance. [Prothero, Iorwerth “William Benbow and the Concept of the ‘General Strike’” "Past and Present" 1974]

Tax resistance for the Reform Act of 1832

Tax resistance was an important tool in the arsenal of the Birmingham Political Union and its allies who forced the crown and the House of Lords to capitulate over the Reform Act of 1832. [Roebuck, John Arthur "History of the Whig Ministry of 1830, to the Passing of the Reform Bill" (1852); Jephson, Henry "The Platform: Its Rise and Progress" (1892); "The Annual Register" (1832); Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 161-167]

Mexican-American War

Perhaps the most famous American example of a tax resister, Henry David Thoreau, was briefly jailed in 1846 for refusing to pay taxes in protest against the Fugitive Slave Act and the Mexican-American War. In his essay on civil disobedience, he wrote:

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year, no more, in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then.… [Thoreau, H.D. "Resistance to Civil Government" [http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=rtcg#p21] ]
…If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. [Thoreau, H.D. "Resistance to Civil Government" [http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=rtcg#p22] ]
Thoreau was following in the footsteps of his fellow New England transcendentalists Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane who had also been arrested for conscientious refusal to pay the poll tax.

Karl Marx prosecuted for promoting tax resistance

During the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, the royal and military aristocracy prohibited the first popularly-elected parliament from assembling, and that parliament responded by declaring the government out-of-business:

So long as the National Assembly is not at liberty to continue its sessions in Berlin, the Brandenburg cabinet has no right to dispose of government revenues and to collect taxes.

Karl Marx, via his newspaper, the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung", published this decree, adding: “From today, therefore, taxes are abolished! It is high treason to pay taxes. Refusal to pay taxes is the primary duty of the citizen!” [Marx, Karl “No Tax Payments!” "Neue Rheinische Zeitung" #145 (November 1848) [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/11/17c.htm] ] Marx was later prosecuted for promoting tax resistance, but was acquitted after arguing that it was not illegal to promote tax resistance against an illegal government. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 239-261]

Tax resistance amongst Prussian democrats

In 1850 Lothar Bucher, leader of the radical democratic party in the Prussian national assembly, and others of similar views, were convicted for encouraging citizens to stop paying taxes to the autocratic government.

Similarly, in 1864 the delegate Johann Jacoby served six months behind bars for a speech calling for tax refusal, delivered in the presence of the King, an early manifestation of oppostion to the rule of Bismark.

Tax resistance launches the First Boer War

The First Boer War broke out when the British occupation government seized a wagon from a man named Bezuidenhoudt who had refused to pay a tax. When the government attempted to auction off the wagon to raise the tax money, supporters of Bezuidenhoudt seized it, and met government representatives who came after them with armed force. [Russell, A. “The South African Republics” "Journal of the American Geographical Society" 1889: “ [T] he people of the country adopted an attitude of passive resistance, they refused to pay any taxes or in any way to acknowledge the alien government. In this manner two years passed away, when a change came over the attitude of both parties, the Boers, convinced that mere appeal to Engand was useless, had determined to take up arms to vindicate their rights, the British Government were becoming dissatisfied that no profits were forthcoming from their new investment. They established a military despotism over the Boers, and when the first attempt was made to enforce the payment of taxes by sending troops to seize on personal property, the first shots were fired which opened the Boer war.”; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 169-174]

The Irish Land League calls for a rent strike

In 1881, the Irish Land League issued a manifesto calling on Irish tenants to refuse to pay rent to their absentee English landlords. [“A Manifesto for the Land League” "Plattsburgh Sentinel" 21 October 1881; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 263-266]

British Nonconformists

In 1903, British Nonconformists began resisting the part of their taxes that paid for sectarian schools. Over 170 would eventually be jailed for their tax refusal. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 291-305]

The Women’s Tax Resistance League

The British women’s suffrage movement, in particular the Women’s Tax Resistance League, used tax resistance in their struggle, and explicitly saw themselves in a tradition of tax resistance that included John Hampden. According to one source, “tax resistance proved to be the longest-lived form of militancy, and the most difficult to prosecute.” [Nym Mayhall, Laura E. "The Militant Suffrage Movement: Citizenship and Resistance in Britain, 1860-1930" [http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=14Dec04] ; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 323-325]

Tax resistance among the American women’s suffrage movement was less-organized, but also practiced. Julia & Abby Smith, Annie Shaw, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were among those who practiced and advocated tax resistance as a protest against “taxation without representation.” [e.g. Smith, Julia “Abby Smith and Her Cows”; Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 325-331]

The Russian Revolution

During the Russian Revolution of 1905 a coalition of anti-government groups in Petrograd issued a manifesto calling for mass tax resistance and other economic non-cooperation against Russia’s czarist government. It read, in part, “There is only one way out: to overthrow the government, to deprive it of its last strength. It is necessary to cut the government off from the last source of its existence: financial revenue.” [manifesto quoted in "The Picket Line" 27 November 2005 [http://sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=27Nov05] ]

In 1906, when the Czar dissolved the First Duma, its members fled to Finland where they issued the Vyborg Manifesto which called upon the people of Russia to refuse to pay their taxes until representative government was restored. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 307-312]

World War I

Although the decision of whether or not to purchase war bonds to support the United States military effort in World War I was ostensibly voluntary, those who chose not to buy them were subject to strong pressure, including mob violence. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 313-321] John Schrag was beaten, arrested and prosecuted and he and his property were smeared with yellow paint by a mob for having refused to buy war bonds. One witness said:

[T] hey tried to get him to buy liberty bonds during the war, and he wouldn’t buy none.… They brought him in and he never said a word, and the questions or anything they’d ask him, he never, never complained or never put up no resistance whatsoever.… I never saw so much yellin’ and a cursing and slapped him. And buffeted him and beat him and kicked him. He never offered any resistance whatsoever. One of the fellows went and got a, a hardware store and got a gallon of yellow paint. And pulled the lid off and poured it over his face. He had a long beard, kind of a short heavyset man, had a nice beard, and that run down all over his eyes, his face, and his beard, and his clothes. Of course that was yellow.… He never offered no resistance whatsoever and they, one man went to the hardware store again and he got a rope and put it around, got there, and put around his neck and marched him down to the, close to the city jail, a little calaboose there. Had a tree there and they was going to hang him to this tree.

…I don’t know how many people walked right up to him and spit in his face and he never said a word. And he just looked up all the time we was doing that. Possibly praying, I don’t know. But there’s some kind of a glow come over his face and he just looked like Christ.… (inaudible). Enemies smite you on one cheek, turn the other and brother he did it. He just kept doing it. They’d slug him on the one side of the face and he’d turn his cheeks on the other. He exemplified the life of Christ more than any man I ever saw in my life. [“The near lynching of John Schrag” "Mennonite Life" September 1975 [http://www.swissmennonite.org/feature_archive/2004/200411.html] ; see also: Kaufman, Donald D. "The Tax Dilemma" 1978, p.39]

American Samoa

In 1927 The Committee of the Samoan League organized tax resistance against the United States Navy’s occupation of the American Samoa. [Chappell, David A. “The Forgotten Mau: Anti-Navy Protest in American Samoa, 1920-1935” "The Pacific Historical Review" 2000]

Indian independence campaign

Mahatma Gandhi’s independence campaign in India used a variety of tax resistance strategies, including attacking the British taxed monopolies on salt and textiles by advocating the illegal production of salt outside of the monopoly system and the home-based spinning of cloth. In 1930 this tax resistance culminated in Gandhi’s famous convert|240|mi|km|-1|sing=on Salt March to Dandi to harvest sea salt in contravention of British law. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 350-373]

Great Depression

During the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Americans throughout the United States formed thousands of taxpayers’ leagues to protest high property taxes. In some cases, these groups illegally withheld taxes through tax strikes and other forms of resistance. The largest tax strike was in Chicago and led by the Association of Real Estate Taxpayers. At its height, the Association had more than thirty-thousand dues-paying members. [Beito, David T. "Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance during the Great Depression" (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).]

World War II

During World War II the Christian anarchist and pacifist Ammon Hennacy refused to register for the American draft and announced that he would not pay his income taxes. He also tried to reduce his tax liability by adopting a life of simple living and bartering. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 383-391] He wrote:

…I [learned] the principle of voluntary poverty and non payment of taxes… from Tolstoy and the ["Catholic Worker"] . When I was working a man asked me “Why does a fellow like you, with an education, and who has been all over the country, end up in this out-of-the-way place working for very little on a farm?” I explained that all people who had good jobs in factories, etc. had a withholding tax for war taken from their pay, and that people who worked on farms had no tax taken from their pay. I told him that I refused to pay taxes. He was a returned soldier and said that he did not like war either, but what could a fellow do about it? I replied that we each did what we really wanted to. [Hennacy, Ammon "The Book of Ammon" 1994 [http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=16Feb06] ]


In 1936, in what one author called “the first truly grass-root rebellion/uprising by Palestinians,” 150 Palestinians called for a general strike and tax strike to protest the British occupation. [Qumsiyeh, Mazin “Palestinian nonviolent resistance” [http://qumsiyeh.org/palestiniannonviolentresistance/] ]

Between 1941 and 1948, there was widespread resistance by Jews in Palestine against the income tax imposed by the British occupation, and many Jews instead voluntarily paid taxes to Jewish organizations. A few years after Israel gained its independence, its government became the target of widespread tax evasion and resistance, including a major tax strike in 1954. [Wilkenfeld, H.C. "Taxes and People in Israel" Harvard University Press, 1973]

The birth of the modern war tax resistance movement

In 1948, a Chicago conference on “More Disciplined and Revolutionary Pacifist Activity” attracted more than 300 people, and resulted in the formation of the group Peacemakers and its “Tax Refusal Committee.” This is considered to be the birth of the modern organized war tax resistance movement in the United States. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 446-447]

The Amish gain exemption from social insurance programs in the United States

In 1965 the United States Congress allowed the Amish to be exempt from the Social Security tax, following a persistent resistance campaign from some Amish who regarded insurance programs as mistrustful of God and therefore against their religious teachings. [“Pay Unto Caesar - The Amish & Social Security” [http://www.amishnews.com/amisharticles/amishss.htm] ] See usc|26|3127 and usc|26|1402(g). (This exemption also covers Medicare taxes.)

A court in the United Kingdom rejects war tax resistance

In 1968, in the UK case of "Cheney v. Conn", an individual objected to paying tax that, in part, would be used to procure nuclear arms in unlawful contravention, he contended, of the Geneva Conventions. His claim was dismissed by the court, the judge ruling that "What the [taxation] statute itself enacts cannot be unlawful, because what the statute says and provides is itself the law, and the highest form of law that is known to this country."Fact|date=February 2007

Vietnam War

In early 1968, 448 writers and editors put a full-page ad in the "New York Post" declaring their intention to refuse to pay taxes for the Vietnam War. The signatories included Nelson Algren, Bob Avakian, James Baldwin, Russell Banks, Sally Belfrage, Eric Bentley, Bill Berkson, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Herbert Blau, Robert Bly, Richard O. Boyer, Kay Boyle, Susan Brownmiller, Jerome Charyn, Noam Chomsky, Robert Claiborne, Peter Collier, Fred J. Cook, Robert Coover, Philip Corner, Robert Creeley, James Crumley, Peter Davis, Emile de Antonio, David Dellinger, Barbara Deming, Philip K. Dick, Martin Duberman, Robert Duncan, Andrea Dworkin, Garrett Eckbo, Stanley Elkin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Leslie Fiedler, Donald Freed, Betty Friedan, Eugene D. Genovese, Mort Gerberg, Allen Ginsberg, Todd Gitlin, Paul Goodman, Daniel Greenberg, Donald Hall, David Harris, James Leo Herlihy, Edward S. Herman, Jane Jacobs, Galway Kinnell, James Kirkwood, Jr., Richard Kluger, Andrew Kopkind, Hy Kraft, Paul Krassner, Saul Landau, Sidney Lens, John Leonard, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, Walter Lowenfels, Staughton Lynd, Dwight Macdonald, Jackson Mac Low, Norman Mailer, William Mandel, William Matthews, Peter Matthiessen, Milton Mayer, Ed McClanahan, David McReynolds, David Meltzer, Henry Miller, Merle Miller, Helen and Scott Nearing, Jack Newfield, Michael Novak, Carl Oglesby, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Victor Perlo, Frances Fox Piven, Richard Poirier, Jefferson Poland, Thomas Pynchon, Anatol Rapaport, Anton Refregier, Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Marshall Sahlins, Kirkpatrick Sale, Ed Sanders, Richard Schechner, Robert Scheer, Orville Schell, André Schiffrin, Peter Dale Scott, Robert Sherrill, Irwin Silber, Bennett J. Sims, Robert Sklar, Susan Sontag, Terry Southern, Benjamin Spock, Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Sterling, Donald Ogden Stewart, William Styron, Robert Sward, Norman Thomas, Hunter S. Thompson, Judith Viorst, Milton Viorst, Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Waskow, Lew Welch, John Wieners, Laird Wilcox, Alice Wolfson, Sol Yurick, Gordon Zahn, and Howard Zinn. [January 30, 1968 "New York Post"]

In 1970, five Harvard and nine M.I.T. faculty members, including Nobel laureates Salvador E. Luria and George Wald, announced that they would be resisting taxes in protest of the war. [Jacobs, Scott W. “Five Members of Faculty Will Withhold War Taxes To Voice Vietnam Dissent” "The Harvard Crimson" 9 April 1970 [http://www.thecrimson.com/printerfriendly.aspx?ref=352705] ]

In 1972, Jane Hart, wife of U.S. Senator Philip Hart, said that she would be resisting the federal income tax. By this time, every major I.R.S. center had a staff member assigned to be the “Viet Nam Protest Coordinator.” [“The War Tax Protesters” "Time" 19 June 1972 [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877781,00.html] ]

Also in 1972, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania decided the case of "United States v. Malinowski" [347 F. Supp. 347, 73-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9355 (E.D. Pa. 1972), "aff'd", 472 F.2d 850, 73-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9199 (3d Cir. 1973), "cert. denied", 411 U.S. 970 (1973).] That case involved John Paul Malinowski, an instructor in theology at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia and a member of the Philadelphia War Tax Resistance League protesting the use of tax money in the Vietnam War. The taxpayer had filed a false Form W-4, and admitted he knew that he was not legally entitled to claim the exemptions (i.e., the allowances) he claimed on the W-4. Malinowski was convicted, and his motion for a new trial or acquittal was denied.

Resistance to the Larzac base

In 1970, when the French defense minister announced plans to expand a military base in Larzac, José Bové and other activists led a campaign to withhold 3% of their taxes (an amount they said was equivalent to the amount the government was spending on its base-expansion campaign) and redirect this money toward agricultural projects. [Bové, José & Dufour, François "Food for the Future: Agriculture for a Global Age" (2005) p. 130]

Efforts to legalize conscientious objection to military taxation

In 1972 United States Congressman Ronald Dellums introduced legislation that would legalize a form of conscientious objection to military taxation, allowing some taxpayers to designate their taxes for non-military spending only. Advocated by National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, this legislation is regularly reintroduced in the United States Congress and has a number of cosponsors. The legislatures of other countries are also considering similar legislation. Many war tax resisters support this, but others feel that such a law would not actually address the problem that leads them to resist taxation. [Gross, David (ed.) "We Won't Pay: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 429-435]

Archbishop Hunthausen resists

In 1982, Catholic Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, Washington announced that he would be refusing to pay half of his income tax in protest against the nuclear arms race.

Citing a previous pastoral letter he wrote on the subject, Archbishop Hunthausen stated that certain laws may he peacefully disobeyed under serious conditions, and that there may be times “when disobedience maybe an obligation of conscience.”

“I believe,” he said, “that the present issue is as serious as any the world has faced. The very existence of humanity is at stake.” [“Archbishop to withhold tax to protest arms race” "North County Catholic" 3 February 1982]

Beit Sahour

:"See also: Tax resistance in Beit Sahour"In 1988-9, during the first Intifada, the Palestinian resistance urged people to resist paying taxes to Israel. [Marysdaughter, Karen “Palestinian Tax Resistance Update”"More than a Paycheck" April 1997 [http://www.nwtrcc.org/mtap96-97/mtap0497.htm#3] ] The people of Beit Sahour responded to this call with an unusually organized and citywide tax strike. As a result of the tax strike the Israeli military authorities placed the town under curfew for 45 days and seized goods belonging to citizens in raids.

Israel’s occupation military forces had the authority, independent from the rest of Israel’s government, to create and enforce taxes in occupied areas. As a result, they would impose taxes on Palestinians as collective punishment measures to discourage the intifada, for instance “the glass tax (for broken windows), the stones tax (for damage done by stones), the missile tax (for Gulf War damage), and a general "intifada" tax, among others” [“A Matter of Justice: Tax Resistance in Beit Sahour” "Nonviolent Sanctions" Albert Einstein Institution, Spring/Summer 1992]

Among those prominent in Beit Sahour’s tax resistance were Ghassan Andoni and Elias Rishmawi.


In 1991 Cameroon’s major opposition political parties called for tax resistance in support of their campaign to end one-party rule. [Krieger, Milton “Cameroon’s Democratic Crossroads, 1990-4” "The Journal of Modern African Studies" 1994 ]

Native Americans in Canada

For 29 days in 1994, a group of Native Americans occupied one floor of the building housing the Revenue Canada Taxation Centre in downtown Toronto, in protest of Canada’s plans to tax Native Americans who had previously been exempted from taxation as a result of treaty provisions. Many continue to resist the tax.

ame-sex marriage rights

In the United States, some gay people have adopted a form of tax resistance to protest the government’s lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriage. [see, for instance: Infanti, Anthony C. “Tax Protest, A Homosexual, and Frivolity: A Deconstructionist Meditation” "Saint Louis University Public Law Review", Forthcoming [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=572246] ]

UK council tax

In the United Kingdom, senior citizens in opposition to steep increases in council tax, claiming that increases of as much as 30% are not affordable to those living on a pension, refused to pay the tax in full or in part (some paying the previous year’s amount plus an inflationary rise). One of these, Sylvia Hardy of Exeter, was jailed for seven days.Fact|date=February 2007

Organized resistance to paying Mafia

In 2006, after the arrest of Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, 100 shopkeepers in Palermo, Italy declared publicly that they would stop paying taxes to the Sicilian Mafia. They encouraged consumers to support the resisters by buycotting their stores. [Moore, Malcolm “We won’t pay you protection, traders tell Mafia” "Telegraph" 28 April 2006]

External links

* [http://www.warresisters.org/node/328 History of War Tax Resistance] "War Resisters League"


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