We have sent our U.S. Individual Income Tax Return for 2019 electronically. Of the total tax that is due the IRS, we are withholding $200.00. We do this as a way of honoring our values, giving concrete expression to our opposition to war and the use of our tax dollars for financing war.
We are members of the Mennonite church, one of three historic peace churches in the United States, which teaches that war and preparation for war are contrary to the will of God, and that the path to long-term peace is through justice, non-violence and loving our enemies. Article 22 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states that “As disciples of Christ, we do not prepare for war, or participate in war or military service”. In 1988, Community Mennonite Church, the local Mennonite congregation to which we belong, took formal action to support its members who,as an act of faith and conscience, choose to withhold part of their federal income tax. As shown in the attached letter, this act was reaffirmed in 1997 by our congregation.
We continue to be concerned about the extraordinarily high percentage of our Federal tax dollar that is used to finance past, present and future military spending, accounting for an estimated 47 percent (https://www.warresisters.org/resources/pie-chart-flyers-where-your-income-tax-money-really-goes). We are also concerned that, according to U.S. State Department estimates, the U.S. supplies an extraordinarily high percentage of the global arms market – 79 percent between 2007 and 2017 (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/04/global-military-expenditure-and-arms-trade-report.html). The idolatry represented by this picture, as well as the high opportunity cost, is inconsistent with the beliefs and practices of our faith and values. We believe that our federal budget is a moral document: how we spend our money shows what we value as a nation.
We appreciate the freedoms that we have as citizens of the United States and feel a responsibility to support the legitimate institutions of the society of which we are a part. However, this causes us a conflict when it comes to paying all of our Federal Income Tax when nearly one-half of it is for military purposes.
The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (H.R. 4169) provides a means for conscientious objectors to war and military spending to pay our full share of taxes without being complicit in violence or in preparations for war. We would like to see this bill passed and are sending the $200 being withheld to the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and to Mennonite Church USA Peace Tax Fund http://mennoniteusa.org/news/peace-tax-fund/.
Richard A. Yoder Carolyn E. Yoder