IRS: We Won’t Pay for War

April 15, 2004

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the IRS,

On and off since 1987, one or both of us have been redirecting a portion of our federal taxes to protest US government policies that increase inequities in our country and the world. In all these years, never have we been more troubled about the mounting chaos at home and abroad as a direct result of draconian, impulsive and ill-advised Bush Administration activities. In good conscience, we cannot support this madness with our tax dollars. We do not take this stance lightly.

In the 1980s, we traveled to, had friends from, and later lived in Central America. We saw firsthand the devastating result of US government support for so-called “low intensity conflict” and human rights violators in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In the 90s, we were moved by the poverty we witnessed in our own towns right here in the US: too much money spent bolstering the military and not enough to feed, house, and provide health care to our children and families in need.
In this new century, since 9-11, Mr. Bush and his government have taken greed and war-mongering to new heights with their myopic pursuit of foreign oil and elusive enemies. They have alienated our allies, bombed poor defenseless nations back into the Stone Age, and inspired new legions of young militants to oppose our country. Meanwhile, our nation’s schools, hospitals and social service agencies struggle against funding cuts. Our young men and women are sent to die in Iraq or become ill with radiation sickness from the depleted uranium warheads we drop there. Is this making us safer and more prosperous?

We need leaders with an ability to listen openly and attentively to many viewpoints. We need leaders who can grasp complex problems and respond with creative, multi-faceted and nonviolent solutions. Our leaders should find ways to seek true security for our nation. Our leaders should model the best of US values – hope in a better future, fairness toward all people, generosity for those in need – rather than squandering a half-century of international goodwill toward the people of the US and robbing our national coffers of the next generation’s inheritance.

It is in this context that we write to you today. We are good citizens and stewards of our planet. We vote, volunteer with community organizations, recycle what we can, plant our family garden without chemicals, and educate ourselves about current events. We are law-abiding people. However, when our government knowingly violates the Bill of Rights and international humanitarian law, we are impelled to follow our moral and religious convictions and respond to a higher law.

We owe tax money to the federal government this year. We believe our national budgeting priorities – which overspend on military solutions and underspend on nonviolent solutions – are immoral. Therefore, we will be sending checks equal to the balance of our owed taxes to our local Catholic Charities for their local work with the poor and to Training for Change, an organization devoted to empowering creative thinkers through experiential education workshops. Graduates of programs like these will lead us to a truly secure future by allowing their curiosity for intercultural understanding to dominate their fear of difference.

In peace,
Winnie Romeril and David Schenck
Prattsburg, NY