War Tax Conversation

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To the Editor: I am delighted by the correspondence in Western Friend concerning war tax resistance. (I will use the term “refuser” in this statement. I like this fairly new way of expressing out war tax actions.) I have been a war tax refuser since 1980, and David Hartsough’s letter reflected well my own view. Nancy Haimes argues that war tax refusal is ineffective, maybe even counter-effective. She believes that we should devote ourselves to influencing Congress and to effective participation in the political system. I say that these are not either/or responses. Most of us who are war tax refusers also write and lobby our members of Congress. We demand a vast reduction in the U.S. military spending, and we yearn for and seek the passage of national legislation that would make war tax refusal legal. For information about the bill that is currently before Congress, go to peacetaxfund.org.

Is war tax refusal in itself effective? The Spirit in me is insistent. It requires me to refuse. I cannot know if my actions will be effective. Do we ever know? I publicly redirect my taxes to life-giving causes. If I put my owed taxes into an escrow fund, another alternative, and the interest on these taxes is used for causes I believe in. Taxes are not levied on me by the IRS for about a year, and during that time I have control over the principal and interest. Yes, my taxes are eventually levied, with penalty and interest. I have not stopped the gigantic war machine as it bulldozes over our society. But I have not passively or voluntarily supported it either. I have accepted, unwillingly, these levies as the consequences of my actions.

To legally reduce my federal tax obligations, I have reduced my income significantly; I donate as generously as I feel able to nonprofit, tax-deductible causes, and take every other legal option available to me to reduce my taxes. In fact, I have not legally owed taxes for several years. And I have spoken out and acted publicly: I support my local group, Taxes for Peace Not War, and our national coalition, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRC). We are all part of a small but valiant movement.

Others live below the taxable income level. Their lives are true examples of the Quaker testimony of simplicity. I believe that, joined with others, my actions are, at least in some small way, effective. They are a part of the Spirit living and working among us.

Peg Morton Eugene (OR) Friends Meeting