Why a Tax Protest Against Abortion Wouldn’t Work

Someone wondered aloud whether we could stop abortion simply by bringing the U.S. government to its financial knees. All we have to do is stop paying our taxes!

So I ran the numbers.

There are approximately 300 million people in the United States, but only 100 million taxable returns are filed with the federal government, representing about 140 million people (nearly half of all returns are Married Filing Jointly or Surviving Spouse). In the general population, about 20% believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. This figure fluctuates slightly from year to year, dipping as low as 13% in the mid-90’s.

There is good reason to believe (and no countervailing evidence) that the taxpaying population is no different from the general population on this question (that is, views on abortion do not vary significantly by income level). So, 13% of 140 million = 18.2mil people. This can be taken as our “base.” Surprisingly small numbers of people are willing to participate non-violent civil disobedience, especially this sort that may run afoul of Biblical commands (“Render unto Caesar…”). Based on some polls I’ve read (but can’t find), you would be rather lucky to get 20% participation in this, and that may be too high by a factor of ten. This leaves us with an optimistic base for tax protest of 3.7mil people.

This is not small, but it is not huge, either. It is about 1% of the total U.S. population, representing almost 3% of its income tax base, or $24bil. Compare to the NASA budget ($17bil), the National Institutes of Health budget ($30bil), the annual spending on the Iraq and Afghan Wars combined (~$150bil until recently), the Obama stimulus ($800bil), or annual spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined ($1494bil).

It is important to remember that the government gets less than half its funding from income taxes — and it spends quite a bit more than it takes in. Two-thirds of Washington’s money ($2314 bil, in 2010) comes from legitimate revenue. The rest ($1156 bil) is either printed or borrowed, driving inflation and the national debt, and unaffected by tax protest.

So a tax protest against abortion is unlikely to be effective, even if it can be reconciled with Biblical teaching.

This entry was posted in Analysis. Bookmark the permalink.