Dear Friends: April is the season for pondering the U.S. income tax system and the fact that about half our tax dollars are used to support the Department of Defense, even when the US is not engaged in any major conflict in the world.
April is also the season for celebrating the faithful among us who refuse to pay such taxes as a matter of conscience. For example, after many years of protesting the military use of income tax dollars, United Methodist pastor John Schwiebert and his wife, Pat, took a radical step to avoid supporting the military-industrial establishment. John went to a meeting of his denomination’s Board of Pensions to announce that he and Pat wished to exercise their right under pension rules to forfeit approximately half of their monthly pension benefit. The effect of this decision was to reduce the amount that the IRS could levy each month to almost zero. Bottom line: the IRS would never get over $32,000 they said the Schwiebert’s already owed, or any future amounts they would refuse to pay. BUT, neither would John and Pat, since their pension benefit for the rest of their lives would be reduced by approximately 50%.
John writes, “So we are living on less, but the impact of this substantial drop in income is offset by the reality that we continue to live in the 18th Ave Peace House, an income-sharing, ‘neo-monastic’ community. And we still have all that we really need, a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that when you seek first the kin-dom of God, all these things (that we typically worry about) will be yours as well! (Matt 6:33).
“Every year around tax time we . . . fill out a Form 1040 (helpful in determining the amount of our Oregon state income tax), but we do not send it to the IRS. And every year we go to a meeting of our local Multnomah County Commissioners with a cashier’s check representing our gift to the County of the exact amount that would otherwise have been paid to the IRS. We’re not at all opposed to paying taxes for the common good!”
Stories like this surely make a person stop and think.
Elizabeth Boardman, Davis Friends Meeting, California (PYM)