April 15, 2015
To: Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Diane Feinstein
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
Internal Revenue Service Center, San Francisco (with Form 1040)
Commissioners of the Internal Revenue Service
President Barack Obama
Clerk, San Francisco Friends Meeting, Religious Society of Friends
People’s Life Fund
This letter concerns my IRS Form 1040 for calendar year 2014. I’m sending a check to the Internal Revenue Service Center in San Francisco along with Form 1040 in the amount of $1,097.00. I am withholding $1,163,00 of my 2014 federal income tax obligation as it represents 40% of my total tax (Line 63) liability for 2014. In the 2013-2014 federal budget, 40% is earmarked to pay for war preparations, wars, present, future, and massive debt payments resulting from past wars. Although there are many organizations that closely monitor the excessive military spending of the United States Government, I am using as a source the Friends Committee on National Legislation –http://fcnl.org/issues/budget/taxday/
I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. Throughout our 350+ history, Friends have opposed all wars and supported the nonviolent resolution of conflict. Our Peace Testimony of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice speaks to my conscience and religious beliefs:
“Friends oppose all war as inconsistent with God’s will. As every person is a child of God, we recognize God’s Light also in our adversaries. Violence and injustice deny this reality and violate the teachings of prophets. Friends challenge their governments and take personal risks in the cause of peace. We urge one another to refuse to participate in war as soldiers, or as arms manufacturers. We seek ways to support those who refrain from paying taxes that support war. We work to end violence within our own borders, our homes, our streets, and our communities. We support international order, justice, and understanding.”
Simply, my deeply held beliefs through reflection and prayer are:
- As a Quaker, I believe that there is that of God in every living thing and that human beings should never kill.
- I am opposed to all wars, research and preparations for war that are a substantial part of a bloated military budget, military aid and all weapons transfers/sales to over 100 countries around the world.
- I don’t believe that men and women should be forced to kill others for nation/state domination, ideology, theology, or the enrichment of corporations or individuals.
- I believe that it is an inalienable human right of conscience to refuse any form of participation in war, be it by military service in or by payment of war-supporting taxes.
- The freedom of individual conscience is affirmed by international treaties and covenants that are signed and ratified by the United States of America as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by the United States Congress. My own human right to freedom of conscience is violated when I am coerced to pay taxes that are used in support of war and killing.
- I take complete responsibility for my actions in this matter.
I am not a tax evader nor a Libertarian. I strongly believe in a system of public taxation in which rich individuals and corporations as well as ordinary wage earners pay their fair share. I strongly believe that the first responsibility of our government and real security is to provide medical care, education, employment, food, and shelter for all, particularly the poor in our midst, whose numbers have rapidly increased during the last seven years.
My refusal to voluntarily pay for war can be characterized as an act of civil disobedience under current law. The portion of my withheld taxes will be deposited into an escrow account and when I am not coerced to pay for war and killing and US policies change, I will gladly pay the amount of withheld taxes.
I understand this action will cost me considerable time, effort and money to pursue these deeply held beliefs. Ultimately, I know the IRS might recover these withheld taxes. However, I will not voluntarily pay for war, suffering, and killing. Fortunately, as a member in good standing of the Quaker faith community and in accordance with our Peace Testimony, I will be supported by F/friends in this act of conscience.
At any time, I am eager to discuss these issues with any official in the U.S. Government responsible for implementing the current policies of increased militarization here in the U.S. and abroad and also representatives of the IRS. These policies, in the midst of great wealth and growing inequality perpetuate pain, suffering, and the tragic loss of life both here at home and overseas.
Stephen L Leeds