My Lifetime Commitment to Not Pay Federal Income Taxes

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The last time I filed a federal income tax return was in 2014. That was likely the last federal income tax return that I will have ever filed. In 2015, I made a lifetime commitment to resist federal income taxes. Quite simply, I have vowed to not pay federal income taxes for the rest of my life.
 

Why I’m Not Paying Federal Income Taxes

Theoretically the income taxes that we pay as individuals are to be utilized for the well-being of our society. They are to be utilized to serve all Americans in a manner that it is equitable and just.

For the first decade of my working life, I paid my taxes and I didn’t pay any attention to where the funds went once I wrote my check or had it deducted from my accounts. I wasn’t paying much attention at all to any of my financial transactions beyond making sure that I got paid what I was owed and that I got what I paid for. I didn’t think about the intricate web of industrialization and globalization that was tied to every dollar I earned and spent. I didn’t think about where the things I purchased came from, how they got to me, or the impact these items had on the planet. I didn’t think about the people who were working to make the things I purchased. There really just was not that much thought at all, beyond myself.

In 2011, I awoke to the truth behind our financial systems – the corruption in the big banks, the lobbyists who purchased our politicians, the inequity in wealth – and so much more. And I learned that the United States of America’s usage of money was far from what they portrayed to the public.

When it came to taxes, I learned that an incredible percentage of all of our tax dollars are used to fund wars and the Military Industrial Complex. I learned that our tax dollars were used to prop up the big banks when these corporations had blatantly stolen from the American public. I learned that our taxes are being used to fund the building of prisons and to fight a “War on Drugs” that has led to an era of mass incarceration that exceeds any other nation on Earth. I learned that our taxes fund police brutality against Black and Brown communities. I learned that our taxes are disproportionately distributed to the communities who already have enough resources and withheld from the communities that are most underserved. It became incredibly clear to me that the taxes I was paying were not serving my fellow citizens of the US or my global neighbors. In fact, my taxes were doing the opposite, they were contributing to systems of oppression and exploitation. Through paying taxes, I was funding so much that I stood against.

These systems of oppression and exploitation I was funding were not just harming my fellow humanity. We live in a time when approximately 200 species of plants and animals are going extinct every day, where hundreds of acres of forest are destroyed in the time it takes to read this paragraph, where entire ecosystems are being lost. This way of life is destroying life as we know it. Many of us taxpayers in the United States are sheltered from this. We just don’t see it and that is by design. The destruction is focused where the privileged are least affected by it. Instead, the burden of our current systems is placed on the communities who are already suffering the most from the inequality of our political and corporate systems. Our taxes are funding the corporations that are dumping their toxic waste into low-income communities of color. Our taxes are funding the multi-national corporations like Monsanto that are controlling the seeds and destroying the lives of peasant farmers around the world. Our taxes are funding the corporations that are sucking our public water sources dry and selling it right back to us in bottled water. Quite simply, the majority of our taxes are put into systems of mass destruction and systems that benefit the few at the expense of the many.
 

My Alternative Tax System

I cannot in good conscious be complicit to the US government’s usage of our tax dollars. I refuse to contribute to these systems of oppression, exploitation and mass destruction. I refuse to take part in systems of brutality, inequity, and environmental degradation. I refuse to believe that the US is more important than any other nation on Earth or that our citizens should be prioritized over our global humanity.

Yet, at the same time some of our taxes are distributed in a manner that serves the people – education, housing, food assistance, health care, public transportation, social security for the elderly and welfare for those in need are some of the ways in which our taxes are used to serve the people. I have certainly benefited from our taxes, especially from government support I received growing up with a single mom and by receiving federal grants to attend university. I have many friends who benefit from programs of the federal government and I still benefit from some of the programs funded by federal taxes today. I am grateful to every one of my fellow citizens who has contributed in a manner that I, and many others in my life, have benefited from.

Some choose to believe that we must pay taxes in order to be a contributing member of society. Some choose to believe that we must pay taxes, or else we are a drain on our fellow citizens. I understand where they are coming from. The federal government has designed a system that sure would like us to believe that this is so. However, I have devised my own tax system that allows me to resist these systems of oppression and exploitation while contributing just as much as taxpayers.

The purpose of our taxes is to take care of the people, right? The purpose of our taxes is to create a system that requires all of us to contribute to society, right? So, that’s exactly what I’ve chosen to do, but not through the federal income tax system.

I have made a lifetime commitment to donate 100% of my media income directly to grassroots nonprofits and organizations that truly serve the people. Since 2015, I have alternatively redistributed my funds at approximately a 70% tax rate in this manner – a rate much higher than I am required to by federal income taxes. The organizations I support provide resources to people who are not receiving equitable benefits from the tax system. I prioritize distributing my finances to Black and Indigenous women-led organizations. They represent the people that are most underfunded, underrepresented and underserved by our political systems. They represent the communities that are most harmfully affected by the corruption in our government and corporations.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that are used for war, I put my money into the hands of people who have dedicated their lives to making peace.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that are used to put Black people in prison, I put my money into the hands of the people who are protecting their people from mass incarceration and police brutality.

Instead of putting my money into law enforcement that oppresses Indigenous people for protecting their sacred land – like we saw at Standing Rock – I am giving this money to Indigenous resistance to government-funded extractive infrastructure projects.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that are given to multi-billion dollar agricultural companies, I support organizations that empower people to grow their own food and create community food sovereignty.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that are given in the form of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, I put my money into the hands of the people who are creating community and better access around cycling and walking.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that contribute to corruption, I put my money into the hands of people who are creating awareness about political and corporate corruption.

Instead of giving my money to federal taxes that contribute to the destruction of our Earth, at the expense of humanity, I put my money into the hands of people who are regenerating our Earth, for the benefit of humanity.

No issue is separate from another. There is no such thing as an environmental issue and a social issue. They are all connected. We are all connected. I have chosen to distribute my funds to people and organizations that understand that we are all connected and act on this belief.

I am transparent with my income and the distribution of funds through my alternative tax system. Yet, I don’t have exact figures of where my taxes go that can be put into a pie chart proving that I contribute in every manner that I also benefit from. I use the public library, but I have not made a financial contribution to them. I am on the public roads, but I have not contributed as much for those as some taxpayers have. But I am not one to believe in separateness. None of us can return equally to everything we have benefited from, including me. I am confident that I am contributing more than is required of me by the federal tax system and am doing it in a way that truly serves the people.
 

Is it Legal to Not Pay Federal Taxes?

By making a lifetime commitment to earning below the federal poverty threshold, it is completely legal for me to not pay federal taxes. I am not breaking any laws. There are thousands of people who have chosen to resist tax through simple and low-income living. My choice to earn below the federal poverty threshold is part of my life design of removing myself from systems of oppression and exploitation.
I’ve shared resources below to learn about how to resist federal income taxes legally.
 

In Service to Earth, Humanity and our Plant and Animal Relatives

Our federal taxes are just one way in which destruction is caused through our monetary system. When one takes the time to look at the truth of our monetary system, it becomes quite clear that this system is central to the great inequity that we are living under today.

My belief is that by living simply I can live independently of the monetary system and all systems that are not in alignment with my ethics and values. Living simply is central to living in truth and integrity for me. My life vows include keeping my net worth to a minimum and to own few material possessions. Living simply is a means of resistance to these systems of oppression and exploitation and a refusal to be complicit. Simple living is a stand against the great inequity of 1% of the human population owning more than 50% of the entire human population combined.

Yet, by living simply I do not aim to hinder my ability to contribute to society. Although I have substantially demonetized my life, my goal is to contribute to Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives more than can be accomplished through our system of taxes.

In fact, I am actively dedicated to training others to remove themselves from the monetary system and to become servants to Earth and humanity.

Although I am contributing financially to society by donating 100% of my media income to the people, my mission is to contribute to society much more substantially in non-monetary ways. Through my nonprofit work, I have provided seeds to 40,000 people to help them grow their own food, built 40 Gardens for the People and planted 2,000 Community Fruit Trees. This work is designed to take small amounts of money and turn it into substantial resources for the people. These programs provide nourishing food for thousands of people who face food insecurity. I could easily get a job and pay taxes to contribute, but instead of working 40 hours a week or more, I take those 2,000+ hours per year and dedicate them as a servant to Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives. I am of service not through my job, the revenue of the job, or the taxes created – but through my very being.

Much to the disbelief of people who think I am a drain on the system, I am teaching people to live independently of the system and to live in a way that actually saves taxpayer dollars. By empowering people with low income to grow their own food, they are less dependent on SNAP. By teaching and empowering people to eat healthier and exercise, they are less likely to end up diabetic or obese and dependent on taxpayer subsidized health-care. By giving bikes to people and inspiring more people to ride bikes, the burdens on our roads are decreased along with the taxes being used to expand our roads. By empowering people to embrace a sustainable life, less environmental destruction is caused, which we actually spend billions of taxpayer dollars dealing with. By teaching people how to substantially reduce their waste, fewer taxpayer dollars are needed to manage landfills and waste processing facilities. By contributing to the creation of tiny home villages for people experiencing homelessness, I aim to get people housed, which reduces the need for tax dollars to programs that don’t focus on the root issues of homelessness. By contributing to a holistic, balanced way of approaching life, it is possible to save millions of taxpayer dollars from being spent, and I believe in my lifetime I will do just that.

Resisting federal income taxes is just one way that I have chosen to be of service to my fellow humanity. This is not the path for everyone. For those who are interested in pursuing this path of resistance and active practice of service to humanity, I have shared resources to aid you on this path.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) and War Resisters League are two organizations that share everything that you would need to know to explore tax resistance.

In the resource section, I have also shared resources that further explain my philosophy and my practice.
 

Resources

War Resisters League pie chart (Where Your Income Taxes Really Go) (War Resisters League)

An International History of War Tax Resistance (NWTRCC)

Practical War Tax Resistance #5: Low Income/Simple Living as War Tax Resistance (NWTRCC)

War Tax Resistance Motivations (NWTRCC)

How to Resist Taxes (NWTRCC)

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander shares in depth about mass incarceration and police brutality that is funded by tax payer dollars.

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