March 6, 2006
To the people working in the IRS, to President Bush, to Senators Nelson and Martinez, and to Congressman C.W. Bill Young:
This is my annual letter of conscience and plea to my government to begin to respect the consciences and religious freedom of those of us who are opposed to war. And my plea that we all respect the basic human needs of our impoverished and war-devastated sisters and brothers around the world.
I am writing during the Christian penitential season of Lent, as our country enters the fourth year of waging war in Iraq. I am enclosing my Peace Tax Return for 2005 which explains briefly that I am paying $100 of my income tax to a group risking their lives in Iraq in non-violent peacemaking; this redirecting a symbolic amount from war to peace is an important part of my annual Lenten spiritual discipline.
The $100 is symbolic of the estimated $100 billion that the Administration plans to spend on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming year, beyond the $563 billion for “current military” spending for the coming year (see “Where your income tax money really goes” athttp://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm). I have paid the rest of the income tax (shown on my 1040 for 2005) to the U.S. Treasury, with deep regret at this violation of my conscience.
While my government is spending more and more on killing, it is spending less and less on caring for the poor. With each escalation of violence and the predictable counter-violence, it becomes increasingly evident that no amount of military preparedness can truly make our country or other regions of the world secure. In fact, the only way to real security is through the long, difficult process of real peacemaking, helping to lead the nations of the world into real relationships of mutual aid, with special care for the hungry, the sick, the unemployed, the defenseless children, the war-traumatized members of our human family.
My commitment to Jesus Christ, who taught love of enemies and refused to use violence in his work of liberating all of us, is what requires that I redirect this symbolic portion of income tax. Each year my government essentially requires that I violate my conscience. The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill, which has been proposed annually in Congress since 1972, would allow citizens like myself (conscientious objectors to war) legal alternative service for the military portion of our income taxes. For more information on this bill see http://www.peacetaxfund.org/thebill/why-a-ptf.htm. Until that bill passes I continue to struggle with this annual violation of my conscience.
Mary Ann C. Holtz