To the IRS:
I can't do this any more. I will no longer pay for war -- the murder of civilians -- with my tax dollars.
For more than 40 years, I have paid federal taxes accurately and regularly. I've often supported new taxes when the proceeds would help people. Now I have to stop. Attached is my 2005 tax return that shows I have taxes due. I won't be paying them voluntarily. Although I'll continue to pay state and local taxes, I will no longer pay federal income tax.
The costs of war (past, present, future) now take nearly 50 percent of every federal tax dollar. U.S. expenditures on the military are now more than the military spending of all other countries in the world combined.
War is no longer a battle of armies. Today it is the policy of our country to fight an endless war against terrorism -- against virtually anyone, anywhere that political leaders find it expedient to call an enemy.
It used to be that it was mostly soldiers who died in war; civilian casualties were few. Now civilians are more than 80 percent of the war dead, and this is not counting the massive deaths of the elderly, women and children due to hunger, lack of clean water, and lack of basic medical care directly caused by war.
It's hard to distinguish between terrorists and civilians, so now we make homes, markets and civilian infrastructure direct military targets. Of course, this is contrary to international law to which this country is a signator, but this does not stop us. Our war on terrorism has quite literally become a war on women and children.
It is no longer necessary for a country or group to harm the United States for us to go to war with them. It is the policy of our country to use pre-emptive military strikes against anyone we feel fearful of or who does not have policies we think are correct. We state that no international agreements, even those the United States was instrumental in developing, will dissuade us from those strikes. Even first use of nuclear weapons is a policy option.
The rule of law is disparaged. Our U.S. Constitution is ignored. We openly use torture and indefinite detentions without any access to due process. How is it possible for any moral person not to be appalled by all this?
To be true to my conscience, I have to stop my collaboration with war. I realize that not all of my taxes go for war; there are many government services I support. If I could pay only for those, I would gladly do it. But I know that for every dollar I pay you, you'll take half to perpetuate war. So I need to stop altogether. Every year I will calculate my taxes, and I'll make sure to provide at least that amount to community groups that provide human services and that promote peace and non-violence.
Your job is to collect taxes and I respect that you need to do it. However, I will no longer be paying federal taxes voluntarily so long as our country continues to promote its current policies for war.
David B. Berrian lives in Bothell, Washington.
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