While serving in the military, it finally occurred to me one day that I might be called upon to kill somebody. I didn’t like the idea very much, so I ended up applying to get out as a conscientious objector (CO).
Following a lengthy investigation, the U.S. armed services considered my beliefs to be sincere and approved my CO application.
For 25 years after the government recognized me as a CO, I paid federal taxes. My rough calculations are in the neighborhood of $350,000 total federal taxes paid through 2003.
That means that about $175,000 of money I paid went directly to support the military-industrial complex. I paid for bullets that killed civilians; I bought bombs that leveled homes and shattered lives; and I painted the desert, mountains, and other human beings with radioactive depleted uranium. I did all of this while claiming to be a conscientious objector. This made me feel very uncomfortable inside.
It finally dawned on me one day that I am more of a hypocrite than I thought I was. So, in 2003, I stopped paying my federal income taxes and my federal phone tax. Since then, to my knowledge, not a penny of my money in the form of taxes has been used to kill children, invade sovereign countries, steal foreign natural resources, or invent microwave crowd control weapons. This makes me feel very satisfied inside.
The IRS has sent a series of increasingly threatening letters. However, until last week, a human being had not signed any of these letters. They were all computer generated and signed by a computer as well.
Early on in the process, I began to be careful how much money I left in my bank account. As the letters began to increase in threat level, I began to close my accounts and even move money from one bank to the next to decrease the risk of an IRS raid on my minimal savings. After the IRS raided one of my accounts and took more money from it than was actually there, causing me to be penalized by the bank for an overdraft, I decide to move to a cash economy.
I was fortunate for a while that I worked as a consultant so that the IRS could not tap my employer to withhold my wages. They did, however, write to my clients and told them to withhold payment of any money due to me and pay to pay it directly to the IRS. Fortunately, my clients did not owe me anything at the time and so were not required to oblige.
To prevent IRS cherry picking of my one-time belongings, I consolidated all of my assets; closed my 401K account, cashed in the IRA, canned the life insurance, avoided purchasing a new vehicle, and put all of my eggs in one basket — my home. I paid the house off and then gave it to my ex-wife. Even though she is not a war tax resister, she is considered to be responsible for my taxes since we were married for three years of my resistance. The IRS continues to threaten her with auctioning her house even though she is not a war tax resister and has offered to pay a substantial portion of what I am considered to owe in taxes.
I fill out my federal tax forms each year and include a letter explaining why there is not a check enclosed. If I am going to claim to be a conscientious objector I want to really start acting like one, right down to my marrow where I feel the conflict. And since the government has formally recognized me as a conscientious objector, it better get used to me acting like one as well. Maybe in the future, we will even create some laws that will allow me to legally be a CO.
From the April 2007 issue of More Than a Paycheck and updated in July 2010.