Rick Gottesman

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April 13, 2008

Internal Revenue Service Center
PO Box 37002
Hartford, CT 06176-0002

To Whom It May Concern:

Enclosed is a payment voucher for the amount of federal income taxes I owe for 2007. My tax return (Form 1040) was prepared and filed electronically on April 2, 2008. You will notice that I have not included payment.

According to my last Social Security statement, I began paying income taxes in 1968. In the intervening 40 years, I have paid my taxes fully and without fail, because as a citizen of the United States I felt it my civic responsibility to contribute to the welfare of this country and my fellow citizens. I may not have always agreed on how my money was spent, but I always had an underlying belief that my government had the best interests of its citizenry at heart. That is no longer true.

With each passing year and most especially in the last seven years of the current administration, ever more of our resources are being allocated for military purposes while our country languishes. According to official government figures, military expenditures account for 20% of the federal budget. This figure deceptively excludes the ongoing cost of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans’ benefits, interest on past debt, and spending that has no congressional oversight—so-called “black projects”. If these were included, the actual military portion of the budget would exceed 50%. That translates into less money available for the things this country so desperately needs, as well as a crippling debt our children and grandchildren will have to bear.

Far more tragic, however, is the enormous cost in human suffering. In Iraq alone the body count for U.S. service personnel has topped 4,000, with tens of thousands more wounded. The estimates of Iraqi casualties—overwhelmingly innocent civilians—range from many hundreds of thousands to over a million. Those numbers do not include the hundreds of thousands of children who died from starvation and disease as a result of 13 years of sanctions after the first Gulf War. Nor do they include the many thousands of lives that, for generations to come, are destined to be destroyed by disease, malnutrition and our abandoned munitions and depleted uranium. All that is tantamount to genocide.

The United States, at one time considered the “last best hope of earth”, a country widely regarded as a moral authority, has become the world’s most hated and feared aggressor. The once sacrosanct principle of due process of law has given way to secret tribunals and indefinite imprisonment without legal recourse. We are a signatory to the Geneva Convention Protocols and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet our government sanctions torture and “extraordinary rendition”. The U.S. currently has more than 700 military bases outside our borders with more being planned and constructed. Reason, compassion and peaceful diplomacy, hallmarks of a moral and civilized society, have been supplanted by fear, hate and violence.

It is clear that the goal of our government’s policy, whether or not explicitly stated as such, is world domination by eternal war. Paying federal taxes makes me an accomplice to this never-ending violence. My conscience will no longer allow me to participate in this immorality. I therefore refuse to pay any federal taxes. In the spirit of serving life rather than mindless destruction, however, I will redirect the amount I owe directly to organizations that promote non-violence and the healing of our planet.

Rick Gottesman
Greenwich, NY