Bay Area Robin Hoods Steal from the Government and Give to the Solidarity Economy

In mid-April, people across the United States struggle to fill out their federal income tax returns. This shared calamity has created something of an inverted holiday season — with grumbling about paperwork and frustration towards government bureaucracy replacing the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” of the Yuletide.

But at a church in Berkeley, California, this past April, people were handing over their taxes with a smile. They were members of the group Northern California War Tax Resistance, and they were smiling because their checks — averaging more than $1,000 (more than €800) apiece — were not made out to the federal government, but to twenty-seven local groups including the Bay Area Community Land Trust, the Berkeley Food Pantry, the Biketopia Community Workshop, Oakland Sustaining Ourselves Locally, People’s Community Medics, and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

The money came from a war tax resisters’ “alternative fund” called the “People’s Life Fund” — one of more than a dozen such funds in the United States. The Fund’s annual mid-April “granting ceremony” brought together representatives from each of the recipient groups, who accepted their checks and briefly summarized their work for the benefit of the other attendees.

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