This week, my wife Jan and I have sent our annual letter to the Internal Revenue Service to protest the use of U.S. tax dollars to fund killing and war. Our 2017 letter is published below, at the bottom of this blog post.
First, however, I am sharing a joint statement issued last month by peacemakers throughout the United States who have come together to take a small, symbolic but significant step of tax resistance. With U.S. tax day just two weeks away, we invite others throughout our nation to join us in this act of resistance.
We are writing to suggest that you do something that you may have never done in your life. This is a historical moment that you can be an active part of shaping.
Here is a snapshot of the current political scene:
- A ban on Muslims
- Plans for a complete wall along the border we share with Mexico
- The dismantling of environmental protections
- Billions added to US military spending and cutting almost everything else
We know about slippery slopes, about things getting worse not all at once, about the frog that didn’t escape the heating water because it was being heated so gradually. We all know the stories of people who committed atrocities and said, in their defense, that they were following orders.
When does what happens cross the line? You may know the famous words of Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
We signed this letter because we want you to consider joining others this year to take a stand. We can non-cooperate with this government which is not of, by and for all the people. As a first step, we can refuse at least a token amount of our taxes to this government.
Specifically, we want to suggest that you consider the action we are taking of withholding and redirecting a small amount of your taxes. How much? Many select a symbolic minimum of $10.40. Others refuse to pay 50% of their federal tax bill, the amount that goes for war and preparations for war. All of us signing this letter are redirecting some tax money, either for 2016 if we haven’t prepaid all our taxes, or through changing our allowances to reduce our estimated taxes for 2017, or are choosing to live below the taxable level in order to refuse paying taxes for war. Will you join us?
Anxious? Thousands of people before you have done this. The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee has an impressive array of resources to help: written materials, videos, webinars, and one-on-one support in some cases. Reach out to them at www.nwtrcc.org. Or talk to friends, and perhaps create a group of people who will support each other. If you choose to resist, we ask that you redirect these funds to a cause that matters most to you.
If tax resistance is not the right choice for you, consider other ways to pursue civil disobedience and noncooperation. We can begin our non-cooperation with the Trump government by engaging in this symbolic act. If you decide to join us, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Arun Gandhi, Peace Farmer
- Carol Loewenstein, Resource Center for Nonviolence
- David M. Gross, Picket Line Press
- David and Jan Hartsough, Peaceworkers
- David McReynolds, War Resisters League, former staff
- Don Mosley, Jubilee Partners
- Harold A. Penner, 1040forpeace.org
- Joanna Macy, The Work That Reconnects
- Jodie Evans, CODEPINK
- John K. Stoner, 1040forpeace.org
- John Lindsay-Poland
- Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
- Kit Miller, MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
- Louie Vitale, OFM, Pace e Bene
- Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International
- Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
- Michael Nagler, Metta Institute for Nonviolence Education
- Miki Kashtan, Bay Area Nonviolent Communication
- Sam Koplinka-Loehr, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
- Susan Quinlan, Northern California War Tax Resistance
- Tatanka Christopher (Kit) Bricca, Resource Center for Nonviolence
April 1, 2017
Dear Friends at the IRS,
We cannot in conscience pay for the killing of other human beings or pay for war and preparations for war. Human life is too precious to drop bombs on people because we do not like their governments. Developing a new generation of nuclear weapons which could put an end to life on our beautiful planet is insane.
Giving the Pentagon hundreds of billions of dollars does not increase the security of our people when we are cutting funds for schools, libraries, job training, and now even the EPA and diplomacy work at the State Dept.
The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, and increased use of drones, have NOT increased our security, but have created more enemies of the United States. Let’s end the war on terror and bring the tax dollars home to meet the needs of the American people.
We are Quakers and cannot in conscience contribute in any way to the killing of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Fifty percent of our tax dollars go for wars and preparations for wars. Together with our IRS Form, we are sending a check for 50% of what we owe made out to the Dept. of Health and Human Services. We ask that you designate all those funds for health and education and human well-being – and NONE for war and killing.
The other 50% (which goes for war and killing) we are contributing to organizations working for peace and justice. and programs meeting human and environmental needs in the US and around the world.
Instead of paying for war and killing, we are joining together with others to build what Martin Luther King called the “Beloved Community.” We hope and pray that all the taxes from people worldwide can go for schools, good health care, food and housing for all people on earth, as we help create a healthy planet for our children and all future generations.
Sincerely, David and Jan Hartsough