Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts about Income Tax

Well, today is the day, the day by which we USAmericans have to file our annual income tax return. I hope all of you who were required to do so have, or will before the day is over, get your filing done. (Some of my Thinking Friends are not USAmericans, so this posting may be of limited interest to them.)
Yesterday I sent in June’s and my tax forms via the Internet, and we had to pay nearly $5,000 more than we had already paid. But I was not altogether unhappy to make this payment, for there are a lot of needy people who are helped by the government each year, and I consider our tax payment primarily for their benefit.
As a pacifist, I do not like to pay taxes to support the U.S. military, and I especially don’t like to pay taxes to cover the expenses of the preemptive war against Iraq, which I consider an unjust war. So I am quite unhappy about my tax money going for that.
Years ago I toyed with the idea of being a tax resister, refusing to pay the portion of the federal tax that was used for war. Through the years there have been people who did that, and I admire their courage and consistency—but I have not able to do the same thing. Still, I am attracted by the idea and am happy that some are still working for a “peace tax fund.”
The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund is a not-for-profit organization which advocates for passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (RFPTFB). In April of last year, Rep. John Lewis (Dem., GA), along with eighteen cosponsors, introduced the RFPTFB as H.R. 2085 in the 111th Congress. If passed by Congress, this legislation would establish a governmental trust fund into which designated conscientious objectors would be able to pay their full federal income taxes.
In 1972 Rep. Ronald Dellums (Dem., CA) introduced the first Peace Tax Fund Act in Congress. (Dellums is currently the mayor of Oakland, CA.) And since 1982, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a coalition of groups from across the U.S., has continued to provide information and support to people involved in or considering some form of war tax resistance.
But until the (unlikely) time comes that income tax can be diverted from support of the military, I will just have to consider that, whereas some people are glad to support the Pentagon but resent their tax money being used for people on welfare, my taxes are mainly going to help people who need, and receive, assistance from the government.


  1. Income tax is I suppose one way to engage a conversation on pacifism. Many thoughts are racing through me, none of which can be treated in a blog entry. One thing is my general admiration for pacifists. I admire Amish communities, for instance, that can suffer at the hands of others and not return violence for violence. Another thing is my general suspicion that as a policy it is impracticable. I find myself leaning also in the direction of those theologians in the Augustinian-Thomistic-Calvinist traditions who emphasize the fallenness of humanity and thus the world and urge that violence is sometimes necessary to restrain evil. It becomes a "necessary" evil whose aim is to preserve and protect the good. There is also a strand of thought that senses violence to be appropriate to our natures given the idea of evolutionary struggle. I know that struggle is not all that informs evolution--that cooperation, for instance, among competing communities is perhaps as significant a factor in adaptation. But, struggle and violent struggle is at least as inevitable and perhaps necessary as a means of adaptation.

  2. While I understand the personal need for consistency in one's personal philosophy, the means of trying to square the two usually do little more than contort the personal trying to be consistent. In Missouri, revenue generated for the state by gambling by law (vote of the citizens) must be used for education. The citizens voted for this since the original advertisements in favor of legalized gambling indicated that this would be the panacea for the funding woes of education in the state of Missouri. As a result all gambling revenues are now earmarked for education alone. However, the state legislators see that education is funded in part from this stream of revenue and then lessen the funding from the general revenue stream to the point of nearly equalling what education would have received if it had received funding from the general revenue alone. In other words this is little more than a shell game so that folks who participate in gambling can have their consciences assuaged that their losses are supporting education. On a larger scale the ruse of the trust funds for both social security and medicare should be a lesson for other ideas of lockboxes to assuage the consciences of those who object to on role of the government or the other. Federal legislators would simply lessen other areas of government spending and increase the military spending from the remaining general revenue resulting in a net change of zero. This would be just further accounting gimmicks to ease the consciences of the governed.

  3. Maybe it's not very "Christian", but how about: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's."