April 14, 2008
Internal Revenue Service
cc: Congressman Raul Grijalva; Senator John McCain; Senator Jon Kyl; Senator Barrack Obama; Senator Hillary Clinton; (P)resident George W. Bush; Alan Gamble, Executive Director, Peace Tax Foundation
Dear Sir or Madam,
As calculated on the enclosed 1040 form, I am liable from tax year 2007 for 1,923 dollars in federal income taxes. This is quite a bit of money. In fact, it would be enough to pay for almost half a second of the wars that the U.S. is waging in various parts of the world. Yes, that’s right, our country is spending about $4000, every second, to violently destroy other countries and murder the people in them. In fact, Joseph Stieglitz, former head of the World Bank, has calculated that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will, in the end, cost about 3 trillion dollars.
I cannot with good conscience be a part of this. Starting about 6 years ago, I realized this moral imperative that I had, and since then I can say that my tax money has not willingly gone toward this carnage or any other miliary ventures, and I’m proud to say that this is true once again for me this year. Sadly, 382 dollars of my taxes were already unwillingly seized from me last year via W-2 witholding. I can’t do anything about that, and it fills me with despair that about 50% of those dollars (according to the War Resisters League federal budget calculations) are now paying for people to be killed. If I am to believe Ben Metcalf’s excellent article, “Why I Pay My Taxes” in the April 2008 issue of Harper’s magazine, a bullet for an M-16 machine gun costs about 30 cents. That means that I might have paid for about 600 bullets. I hope and pray that none of those bullets found their mark, and if they did, that they caused only a minor and temporary injury. Or perhaps my 191 military dollars only went to pay for 2% of a JDAM “smart bomb,” (about $24,000, according to Metcalf) and that that particular bomb fell far from its intended target or any “collateral damage.” I can only hope that the use of my taxes was a best-case scenario of some harmless waste such as these, but I fear far worse. I can only take comfort in knowing that I did not contribute even more to the carnage, and willingly never will; that the remaining $1541 that I owe will not go toward any further death, and that all the moneys I have withheld from this evil and unjust purpose in past years is also not paying for death.
Instead, these funds have been used by me to pay for peaceful and charitable causes in my community, both local, national, and global in scope. I do believe that a citizen of this country has the obligation to do his or her part, financially, to contribute to the common good. Hence, I do not just keep these withheld taxes for my own personal gain, but I donate them to socially beneficial purposes that the government should, in a just world, be taking care of.
I realize fully that this course I describe is not sanctioned by current law. I would gladly follow the law and pay my taxes if there were a way for me to also follow my conscience and do the right thing. One way this might happen is with the Peace Tax Fund legislation, which has been introduced to Congress repeatedly over the last few decades (currently H. R. 1921). I am encouraging my elected representatives in both the legislative and executive branches to work toward making this type of option available to the citizens of our nation so that they could decide to pay for good and peaceful works of the federal government without supporting killing. Until that time I will continue to refuse to fund war in the only way that I can.
In closing, I would like to note that there are more and more citizens (voters, consumers) who feel the same way as I do. More and more people are realizing that their government is committing horrible atrocities all over the world in their name and with their money. Furthermore, more and more of these people have had enough, and are deciding to do something about it by refusing to pay for this insane horror, for the violence that the U.S. government is committing on the rest of the world. You, whatever bureaucrat or policymaker who is reading this letter and the hundreds like it arriving in your in-boxes this year, you may be able to ignore it this year, or answer it with lip service and form letters, but someday this tide of resistance will be so great that there will be no way to ignore it without severe consequences. I urge you to do something: do the right thing, before that day of reckoning comes. Change not only the options for taxpayers, but change the homicidal, and indeed suicidal, course that this country is on, before it is too late.
originally published here: http://detritus.net/steev/mt/archives/000998.html