National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

Profiles of War Tax Resisters

…who have appeared in “More Than a Paycheck”

Cathy Depp (August, 2013) had her first run-in with the IRS as a direct result of refusing the federal excise tax on telephone service, which was increased by President Lyndon Johnson to help pay for the war in Vietnam. Although LBJ said we could have guns and butter too, we would have to pay for both. My husband and I were University of Illinois graduate students, living on next to nothing anyway but both determined our tax dollars should fight a different kind of war — the “war on poverty” Johnson had promised to wage. As conscientious objectors, we were part of a growing movement to resist the war through refusal to fight for it and refusal to pay for it. [read more]

Aanya Adler Friess (June, 2013) has been resisting war taxes since the 1960s. At age 86, she no longer attends meetings on a regular basis, though she lives below the taxable income level. She discusses war tax resistance with activists from the organizations that make up Albuquerque’s Peace and Justice Organizations Linking Arms (PAJOLA), of which she is a founding member. [read more]

Andrea Ayvazian (February, 2013). When asked about who I am, how to introduce myself, I fumble around and use some or all of these words — I am the proud mother of Sasha Klare-Ayvazian (now 24); I am a woman of faith, a long-time activist for peace, social justice, environmental sanity, and an anti-racist world; I am an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, a former Quaker, a singer, songwriter and poet. [read more]

Seth Berner (August, 2012). My name is Seth Berner. I’m a poverty lawyer and general human rights activist in Portland, Maine. At some point I realized that I could not act for change and help those in need if I blindly supported the status quo and despair by automatically paying all the taxes my government wanted me to pay. [read more]

Carol Dotterer (April, 2012). My 88-year-old mom, Ruth Kirk, was visiting me in South Carolina when we were asked to write a profile for this newsletter after we asked for some Zombie war tax resistance forms mentioned in the December 2011 issue. [read more]

Beth Seberger (February, 2012). In 1970, two years out of college, as a recent arrival to Kansas City, and in the midst of the Vietnam War, I became a war tax resister. Why? [read more]

Lauren Tepper (October, 2011). When I first began war tax resistance, it was not something I wanted to do. It felt like, as Julia Butterfly Hill has called it, a “choiceless choice.” Given my abhorrence of war, I could not justify paying for it with my tax dollars. I had felt this way for years, but it seemed futile for me alone to take a stand. [read more]

Dee Logan (June, 2011). I’ve kept my wages below taxable limits so as not to be required to pay income (war) taxes. And now, due to health issues, I am not employed. However, the year my mom passed on (2002), I did receive some inheritance. Although the financial person said it was not taxable, it was — and so the InFernal Revenue S(C)ircus started writing me letters requesting payment. [read more]

Rod Nippert (April, 2011). I am 61 years young. I live in an intentional community in southeastern Ohio. I have been a war tax resister (WTR) since the early 1970s. I believe being a WTR has profoundly affected my adult life. [read more]

Patricia Tompkins (December, 2010). I just heard on National Public Radio this quote from a Chinese entrepreneur who became an organic farmer. “By chasing after money, we have forgotten the essence of life.” For me, the essence of life is connection to the land and to each other because without the first we cannot live and without the second we cannot be fully human. [read more]

Heather Snow (October, 2010). When I was a young girl around the age of 10, I already understood what a corrupt world we lived in. I had a deep distrust for society and mostly government. I had a few jobs when I was 17, and decided not to pay my taxes as a statement against paying for war and supporting a government who didn’t really take care of its people. [read more]

Liz Scranton (April, 2010). I began my journey with war tax resistance in 1989 and now, over twenty years later, I am still hanging in there with every bit as much resolve. My conviction that it is wrong for my tax dollars to fund wars to “keep us secure” remains strong. [read more]

DeCourcy Squire

DeCourcy Squire (Aug. 2009). It is late winter in the 1950s. My father is closeted with lots of receipts, trying to figure out the taxes. Although he is a brilliant mathematician, he finds arithmetic, especially in these pre-calculator days, tedious and it makes him cross.… [read more]

Mimi Copp (April 2009) Jesus says to love your enemies and your neighbors. In some ways, that is all that needs to be said as to why I have decided to redirect my federal tax dollars away from war-making and towards life giving initiatives. I can’t figure out how to justify the killing of those who Jesus says to love. How am I loving them if I’m a part of their destruction.… [read more]

Becky Pierce (December 2008) I have been a war tax resister for the past 43 years, all of my adult working life. Since 1989, when I stopped filing tax returns, I’ve gotten very little attention from the IRS. Because I am self-employed, my income is not normally reported to the IRS. But a little over a year ago a local agent started… [read more]

A. Jesse Jiryu DavisA. Jesse Jiryu Davis (Aug. 2008). In the summer of 2006, I officially became a Zen Buddhist and promised to uphold the Buddhist precepts. It seemed to me that the gravest of them was Non-Killing, and that the most violent thing I did was to pay my federal income tax… [read more]

Tony SerraJ. Tony Serra (Aug. 2007). He’s been called one of the greatest criminal defense lawyers of the 20th century. He’s also only one of two war tax resisters since World War II to have been jailed for “willful failure to pay” federal income taxes. Last March, Tony Serra was released after spending nine months in Lompoc Federal Penitentiary in California. Twice before — in 1974 and 1986 — Serra had been convicted because of his war tax resistance.… [read more]

Tim Pluta (April 2007). While serving in the military, it finally occurred to me one day that I might be called upon to kill somebody. I didn’t like the idea very much, so I ended up applying to get out as a conscientious objector (CO). [read more]

Stanley Bohn (August 2006) As war tax resisters the why-we-do-it shapes the what-we-do. Since our reasons for not paying part of our federal income tax are not to avoid all taxes, my wife Anita and I use probably the least clever ways to resist taxes. We reduce our taxable income by giving as much as we can to charitable causes, fill out tax forms, and send.… [read more]

Rev. Bucky Beach (April 2005) It was over 20 years ago that I started nonpayment of taxes owed to the IRS. I was scared, but youth breeds a sense of immortality, which was accompanied by a bit of a chip on my shoulder and a desire to be faithful to what I believed. I did some research and read some stories of property seizures and levies.… [read more]

Joe DeRaymond (March 2002) My war tax resistance began in 1973, when I was 23, in the last days of the United States military presence in Southeast Asia. I had been denied the opportunity to resist the draft because my draft number was just out of the range of being called for duty. Tax resistance seemed like a reasonable method of resisting the war machine… [read more]

Aaron Falbel (April 2003) In December of 1990, I became a war tax resister. Shortly before the Persian Gulf War (#1), I attended a peace rally on the Boston Common. Despite the impassioned speeches given by Howard Zinn, Daniel Ellsberg, and others that day, I had a sinking feeling that standing out in the cold for a few hours, chanting slogans, and marching through the streets of downtown Boston was not going to stop the war from happening.… [read more]

Nancy and Gary T. Guthrie (Feb. 2007 and Dec. 1998) Imagine that you are sitting on a lawn chair atop a straw stack bordering a beautiful organic garden in the heart of Iowa. You are watching a golden harvest moon rise above the rows of corn that stretch out in front of you rustling like a sea of applause. The straw stack is a mulch supply for the beautiful garden… [read more]

Wally Nelson: A Revolutionary Inspiration, remembrance by Bob Bady (August 2002) Wally and Juanita became war tax resisters in 1948 after attending the founding conference of the group “Peacemakers.” This group of war resisters made the connection between the permanent war economy being created and the expansive income tax system… [read more]

Priscilla Adams (April 1997). When I left college in 1974, I joined the Movement for a New Society and earned below a taxable level, filing W-4s as exempt. When I began to earn enough to owe money, I refused to pay 100% and continued to file W-4s as exempt. After a paycheck was garnished I stopped filing my 1040s because I did not want to help them in any way to collect money.… [read more]

Tom Wilson (October 2008). “I am sorry to announce that The Commonwealth has taken action that forces me to close my dental office for non-compliance with licensure and newer infection control protocols. I am deeply saddened that I must abandon patients or face arrest. Your records and x-rays may be picked up at the office.”… [read more]

Peter Smith (February 2006). I was a product of the 50s: Civil Defense drills, the Red Menace, McCarthyism, super patriotism, Korean War, etc. I joined NROTC in college so my parents would not have to pay my tuition and books. I had two younger sisters they needed to send to college. I did not like Navy life and resigned after spending the required four years in service, although my politics were as right wing as ever. While I was in the Navy we had to endure countless counter-insurgency lectures, as the military advisors were already starting their work in Vietnam.… [read more]

Carol Moore (February 2004). In 1975, while living in New York City, I was involved in radical feminism and political comedy, song-writing and play writing. I started supporting myself working off the books. Come April 15, 1976, I found that I owed the IRS more than $1000. I worked double shifts for two months to raise the money. As I sent the $1,000 off — still the largest check I’ve ever written — all I could think was that the money would pay for one big mortar shell that might kill a child or a family.… [read more]

Wally Nelson (August 2002). Wally Nelson died on May 23, 2002. He died in much the same way he lived his life: without fear, and surrounded by people who loved him.… [read more]

Charlie Hurst and Maria Smith (December 2002). My wife, Maria Smith, and I have been war tax resisters for a number of years now. We do not do this out of any quarrel with the tax system or the concept of paying taxes. We are war tax resisters because that is how our faith in Jesus Christ calls us to live and act in the world. We do not pay the military portion (fifty percent) of our federal income taxes; and instead give that money to groups and organizations working for peace, justice, hunger relief, and economic and social development in this country and the world.… [read more]

James Satterwhite (December 2003). In 1969, as I was graduating from college in Florida at the height of the war in Vietnam, I faced a dilemma. Should I go into the military to fight in Vietnam, or was there another option for someone who had come to the position that violence and war are wrong? At that time I was fortunate, as I was able to do “Civilian Alternative Service” as a Conscientious Objector under the Selective Service guidelines in effect at the time.… [read more]

Neil Golder (June 2000). Something sticks in my mind that probably has a lot to do with my decision to stop paying U.S. income taxes. The story goes that after a large anti-Vietnam War demonstration in D.C., Alexander Haig, Secretary of State at the time was heard to have said: “Let them march all they want, as long as they pay their taxes.” The story may not be true, but its essence is. The government needs our money to keep the military going, to prepare for and make war.… [read more]