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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/15/13

Paying for War Is Participation in War

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Message Jack Payden-Travers

Yesterday I mailed in our taxes. It was a ritual once again accompanied with mixed emotions. I was relieved that the ordeal of preparing and filing was finally over, but also concerned that most of our tax dollars will be going to US military expenditures

My wife and I have shared this concern now for over four decades. This year we joined a growing number of taxpayers in withholding $10.40 for peace out of the money that we still owed to the Federal Government. It is our attempt to raise a cry against the military madness that has expended over 1.4 trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes, I know it is a strictly symbolic action. Losing our $10.40 will not stop the wars; it won't even be noted in the figures that the IRS will submit to Congress. But what if millions of American taxpayers joined us in this symbolic protest? Imagine if a million of us each took $10.40 out of our taxes and sent it to organizations working for peace and justice!

I also have learned that for me the symbolic and the sacramental are closely related. The sense of ritual that is part of an action that one repeats on a yearly basis is also tied in with this act of resistance to militarism. It may well not change the world, but my participation in this symbolic act does change me.

Choosing a  Commitment to Peace

This year we will be sending our $10.40 to the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, which is working to pass the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill.

As he has for several decades, civil rights Congressman John Lewis of Georgia will sponsor this legislation. It has been introduced into every Congress since 1972. This bill would establish the right of taxpayers who are conscientious objectors to war to pay their full taxes into the Peace Tax Fund. Since those monies could not be used for war or preparations for war, they serve a similar purpose to the conscientious objector status that exists under the Draft.

We do not seek to evade our tax obligation. But we cannot in conscience continue to voluntarily pay for war after war, year after year. As people of faith, we are compelled by our religious beliefs to practice what we preach. We pray for peace and must work for peace.

Explaining Our Purpose to the IRS

Along with our 1040 Tax Form, we included the following letter to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. We will be sending copies to our Senators and Representative. More information is available at the website of $10.40 FOR PEACE   [].

Dear Commissioner Steven T. Miller:

Let me congratulate you on your recent appointment as Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. It is an awesome responsibility which you have undertaken, and from your online biography [it is evident that] you are no stranger to supervision and difficult tasks. Thank you for your service.

For my wife and me, it is once again that time of year when we are faced with our responsibility as American citizens and taxpayers versus our beliefs as Christians living in a nation involved in perpetual war and preparation for such. It is a conundrum which we have faced for over forty years now when we file our joint tax return, for we are by reason of our religious beliefs conscientious objectors to participation in and preparation for war.

As Christians we seek for solutions to conflict that honor the gospel mandate to love your enemy. Unfortunately, regardless of the end of the Cold War, there has been no let up in America's preparation for war. Indeed the War on Terror has expanded the expenditures of our nation on warfare. We seek not to evade our duty to pay taxes, nor to excuse ourselves from that obligation. We wish you to understand that for those of us whose religious beliefs proscribe our participation in the organized violence of war, that paying for preparation for war is likewise not permissible.

As such, this year we join with our brothers and sisters in the community of 1040 FOR PEACE and will withhold $10.40 from the taxes which we acknowledge are due by the 15th of April. Annually we face this dilemma. Fortunately, our religious beliefs as Christian pacifists are nurtured by traditions which are reinforced during the seasons of Lent and Easter. It does indeed seem ironic that tax time and the season in which we acknowledge both the death of Christ by crucifixion at the hands of the state and his glorious resurrection from the dead, coincide.

We look towards the day when American Citizens can pay their taxes in good conscience. We will continue our work towards that goal by supporting the passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill so that we can be assured that we are PAYING OUR TAXES FOR PEACE NOT WAR. We pray for peace and reconciliation among all people. We will send this withheld amount to the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund.

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Jack is the Director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. This organization works to pass the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act that would allow taxpayers who are conscientious objectors to war to place their tax dollars in the Peace (more...)
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