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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 3.29.07

Taxes for Peace

Why contribute to death and destruction?

BY SUE BARNHART

EDITOR'S NOTE: A number of years ago, individuals in the Eugene area re-created a small war tax resistance group. The group is now called Taxes For Peace Not War and is joined with other similar groups around the country in the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC). The group believes that wars could be stopped and would not even occur if there were to be no funding for them. Members protest by refusing to voluntarily pay all or part of their federal taxes. These are acts of civil disobedience, and the consequences are almost always financial. Below is the story of one of the local group members, Sue Barnhart. Other stories will follow in the next few weeks.

I have been a war tax resister for thirty years. I was raised as a Christian and really took to heart the commandment, "Thou Shalt not Kill." I never felt comfortable paying taxes for war, but I didn't realize I had a choice. As soon as I met some war tax resisters and realized it could be done, I began doing it. It feels very empowering to make a statement with my tax dollars.

I actually wouldn't mind paying more taxes so that all of us living in the U.S. could have clean air and water, beautiful parks that were well kept up, free education and health care, enough food to eat, meaningful work and a safe place to live.

When I was young, I often resisted paying taxes by living below the taxable income. I also was a legal tax resister for a few years after I adopted my daughter. I was able to take a tax credit for adoption expenses. Other ways to legally avoid paying war taxes include lowering your taxable income through giving money to charities and having a lot of legal business expenses.

Most years I owe taxes. I try to resist half of the taxes the IRS chart says I need to pay, since half or more of our taxes go towards war. If our country stopped going to war and redirected the taxes to our state and local governments, Lane County wouldn't being having its current financial problems, and all the schools would be funded adequately.

I mail in my tax form every year with a letter stating why I am not paying all I owe. I send a copy of that letter to the president, my Congresspeople, family, friends and the editorial page of local newspapers. Eventually the IRS either cleans out my bank account or garnishes my wages, but I'm making them work to get my money.

It isn't as scary as you might think because of the support we war tax resisters give to each other. Not paying war taxes sends a strong statement to the government that I'm against war. I wish more peace activists would do it. If more people took this action, we could put an end to war. As one of my favorite bumper sticker says, "If you work for peace, stop paying for war."

For more information about war tax resistance, contact www.nwtrcc.org, or nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org For local information, call 342-2914 or 342-1953.