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The Case for an American Tax Strike

Nice oligarchy you’ve got there. Be a shame if we quit paying for it…

Entering the last year of Trump’s first (and last?) term as president, it’s fair to say that a good chunk of the country is “fed up.” Either you’re furious at the sham trial in the Senate that has played out following a House vote to impeach, or you’re a sentient MAGA hat close to a rage stroke because there were any consequences at all to his behavior, or you don’t really care what’s up with the Washington soap opera and are focused instead on how the government is directly screwing you, day after day.

So I’ve got a question: Are we really paying taxes this year?

As another April 15th approaches, my disgust with the current regime is more intense than ever. I imagine my money spent toward shitty walls and vile concentration camps, on defective fighter jets, landmines and whatever “Space Force” is supposed to be. Meanwhile, budgets for science and social programs are drying up. But you don’t have to agree with me politically to get angry over taxes. Conservatives have complained of this burden for generations (yet seem to lessen it only for companies and the ultra-rich). Libertarians call taxes theft outright. The left is always deprived of what they’d want this money spent on: healthcare, environmental sustainability, new mass transit, education. The centrist moderates and non-voters? They don’t like kicking up to Uncle Sam either.

Also, Cardi B has some relevant questions:

Tax resistance is, in that sense, a cause that touches every part of the ideological spectrum, and there is arguably nothing as American. “No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of the colonies as they threw off British rule in the 18th century, and the same principle was later cited by suffragettes and black civil rights activists seeking the right to vote. For liberal opponents of Trump, a tax revolt in 2020 might fall closest to Henry David Thoreau’s notion of civil disobedience: He wouldn’t pay poll taxes in the 1840s because the U.S. was waging war on Mexico and still enforced the laws of slavery.

Past the moral disagreements, however, you have that original basis for refusing to give up cash to the feds: Do they really represent you anymore? Regardless of who you like to vote for, you’re bound to have a despairing answer here.

It’s enough to make you wonder if stiffing the IRS is the move — provided enough of us do it, I mean. One recalls the logic of the viral “Storm Area 51” Facebook event: “They Can’t Stop All of Us.” You can’t jail an entire country. Not filing your taxes is a hell of a lot easier, and not as immediately dangerous or impractical, as armed rebellion; it’s also a cause with the broadest imaginable populist appeal. If an employer treated their workers the way D.C. treats the average citizen, a strike would be well justified. We keep America running, and we might bring it to a halt.

On top of taxes, there’s all that unpaid debt. Yeah, nice oligarchy you’ve got there. Be a shame if we quit paying for it…

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