April 12, 2003
Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0015
To whom it may concern:
Last year, $X in federal taxes were withheld from my paycheck. According to my completed income tax return, which is enclosed, I owe the federal government an additional $377. According to the U.S. Constitution, however, I say it is the government that owes me “no taxation without representation.”
As a DC resident, it bothers me to hear my government talking about bringing “democracy” to the Middle East, while at the same time denying full democracy to the residents of our nation’s capitol. The residents of the capitols of 183 democracies around the world have representation in the national legislature equal to that enjoyed by their fellow citizens. The U.S. is the only nation which does not.
On October 10, 2002, the residents of DC were not represented when Congress gave a blank check to George W. Bush to go to war against Iraq. We should have been. We pay more federal taxes per capita – half of which go to pay for past, present, and future wars — than the residents of all but one state. Furthermore, DC residents have fought and died in every war since the War for Independence. During the Vietnam War, DC had more casualties than 10 states, and more killed per capita than 47 states. And DC residents served in the Gulf War in greater proportionate numbers than the citizens of 46 states. In short, since we disproportionately pay for and fight in wars, we should certainly have a say in whether or not our country goes to war.
The day before this now infamous Congressional vote, the Washington Post reported that the CIA did not view Iraq as a serious terrorist threat, but if we invaded the country, an attack against Americans would be much more likely. On September 11, 2001 many innocent DC residents perished when a hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon. As the nation’s capitol, we are a prime target for future attacks. DC residents should have a say in whether or not our country takes a course of action that could increase the risk of terrorism.
Furthermore, on “9/11”, DC residents suddenly understood firsthand what the term “collateral damage” really means. As a DC resident, I find it viscerally abhorrent that more innocent civilians should be killed abroad in my name. On 9/11, 3,000 innocent American lives were taken. But we have since violently extinguished many more civilian lives than that in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether by a hijacked plane or a cluster bomb, the killing of an innocent mother, father, daughter, son, sister, or brother, is the same. In Iraq, a country where about half the population is children, thousands of civilians have been slaughtered in just a few weeks by our “smart bombs.” I have seen gruesome photos of Iraqi children, brains blown apart and literally “disarmed.” These are the tax dollars of DC residents at work, in a war waged without our consent.
Meanwhile, in DC, many schools opened the school year without books. And there are more and more residents without housing and food. Our oldest hospital, relied upon especially by the poor, has been shut down. Our libraries are in shambles. It seems that the government favors using its resources to destroy lives abroad, instead of improving our social infrastructure at home. Indeed, there is much destruction in the world today – both abroad and at home – and it is inextricably connected.
And while war rages, and we are asked to make do with less, the government seems determined to give fat tax breaks to the rich, while failing to crack down adequately on corporate tax evasion. Corporations, it appears, enjoy more representation in the White House and Congress than U.S. Citizens, least of all the residents of DC. A resident of DC is no match for the CEO of an oil company or arms manufacturer, when it comes to getting the government’s ear.
In conclusion, I strongly believe in paying taxes. In fact, I would be willing to pay even more taxes, if they went to improve the social welfare of our nation – our schools, healthcare, education, housing, parks, and libraries – rather than war and occupation in another.
According to the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all citizens should have equal protection under the law — including voting representation in Congress. Until DC residents are treated like first-class citizens and the U.S. ends its global path of death and destruction, I cannot in good conscience pay the remaining $377 of my federal taxes.
Instead, I plan to donate the $377 I “owe” to support human needs in DC, the campaign to end taxation without representation in our nation’s capitol, humanitarian efforts in Iraq, and international peace initiatives.
Anna L. White