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War Tax Resisters Mark April 15 with Call to Stop Military Spending

As military expenses are projected to be 45% of the 2015 federal budget, Americans resist by refusing to pay taxes.
 
 
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Millions of Americans are rushing to file their federal and state taxes today by the midnight deadline. But others are using the day to protest the use of tax dollars to fund war. The War Resisters League estimates at least 45 percent of the 2015 federal budget would be used for current and past military expenses, as well as interest on the national debt, some 80 percent of which stems from military spending. To voice their opposition, some Americans are taking a stand by personally refusing to pay their federal taxes. Lida Shao, a pre-med student at Columbia University, has been a war tax resister for three years with support from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Shao joins us to discuss why Tax Day for her is a day of resistance.

AARON MATÉ: As we continue now to look at issues of finance and justice, we turn now to taxes. Today is April 15th, and many Americans are rushing to file their federal income taxes by the midnight deadline. But others are using the day to protest the use of tax dollars to fund war. The War Resisters League estimates at least 45 percent of the 2015 federal budget would be used for current and past military expenses, including drones and bombs, as well as interest on the national debt, some 80 percent of which stems from military spending.

AMY GOODMAN: To voice their opposition to this, some Americans, like our next guest, are taking a stand by personally refusing to pay their federal taxes. Lida Shao has been a war tax resister for three years. She’s had support from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. She’s been active in working with youth and in food democracy and popular education, and currently is pre-med at Columbia University.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! So, you’re not going to be mailing your taxes in today, at least your federal taxes.

LIDA SHAO: Yes. Thanks so much. I’m so honored to be here. No, I’m not going to be. I actually just printed out the peace return this morning, and I think I might file that instead. And maybe I’ll send them—

AMY GOODMAN: Peace return?

LIDA SHAO: It’s a document that the NWTRCC put together that’s—you can file instead of the 1040, and it’s—

AMY GOODMAN: NWTRCC?

LIDA SHAO: NWTRCC, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. And yeah, you can submit that instead of submitting your 1040, and it explains the reasons why you’re resisting taxes to the federal government.

AARON MATÉ: What consequences, though, could you face?

LIDA SHAO: You could face a bunch. I mean, some people get threatening letters. They get threatening calls. There has been a few cases of fraud. But, I mean, really, it’s a handful of IRSagents trying to control 300 million people, so the chances of getting audited is very low. And I personally haven’t felt any risk. I haven’t gotten any threatening letters or threatening calls or anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you a war tax resister?

LIDA SHAO: I’m most inspired by my father. He was born the year before Nanjing Massacre and lived through it, and he was kind of haunted his whole life about what the war did to his city. And kind of, I guess—I guess I think of my war tax resistance as a practice that I can cultivate throughout my life.

AMY GOODMAN: What if other people decided they didn’t like certain policies of the government, so they would not pay their taxes, either?

LIDA SHAO: I think that that would be great, because you can—then you can divert your taxes towards things that you actually do agree with. So, 45 percent of our tax is going to war. You could take 45 percent of your annual tax refund and donate it to organizations that you support in your neighborhood.

 
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