- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Tax day is here, and Susan Quinlan hasn't filed her form 1040 yet. She doesn't plan to.
As an anti-war activist, she objects to paying taxes that fund the nation's defense budget.
Most of the 10,000 or so conscientious tax resisters nationwide send letters to the Internal Revenue Service each year explaining that they are withholding their cash and putting the money into an interest-earning fund. Then they donate the interest to what they deem life-affirming, peaceful causes.
"We're upset that our tax money is funding militarism," said Larry Harper, a tax resister from Sebastopol.
"This is not tax evasion," said Bill Ramsey of St. Louis, a spokesman for the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. "This is tax refusal and redirection. It's a public act and an act of conscience."
The practice isn't without risk the IRS considers resisters to be tax cheats. Mr. Harper said the IRS took $1,200 from his bank account the first time he resisted in 1982 but has left him alone ever since.
Critics argue that tax resisters could take advantage of charity tax credits, already part of the tax system. They also say resisters are selfish because they benefit from government services funded by citizens who do pay taxes.
"The vast majority of salaried employees file and pay voluntarily," IRS spokesman Anthony Burke said. "Most Americans, I think, are law abiding and honest citizens."
Just days before today's tax-filing deadline, Miss Quinlan and Mr. Harper led a workshop in Berkeley and dispensed brochures, information and support to 15 tax-resister recruits.
The movement started after the Vietnam War and rose again during the Persian Gulf war. Miss Quinlan said interest has been piqued this year by the war in Afghanistan.
"I wondered after September 11 if we'd be deluged with people," Miss Quinlan said. "We weren't initially. But we are seeing more now."
Instead of putting a check in the mail today, Miss Quinlan and some of her fellow Northern California resisters will have a party and make contributions to charities from $10,000 earned as interest on their diverted tax endowment, which they call the People's Life Fund.
Mr. Ramsey and 50 resisters in St. Louis have purchased $10,000 in medical equipment for clinics in Afghanistan. Outside the IRS office in St. Louis today, they will present the equipment to nurses who will take the supplies overseas.
Nearly 29 alternative funds across the country plan to use $100,000 in interest this year to make grants to shelters for battered women, homeless programs and AIDS prevention.

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