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Paying taxes to be spied upon, and for an overgrown military and criminal justice system

Apr 15, 2014 Paying taxes to be spied upon, and for an overgrown military and criminal justice system

Every year for decades, I have timely filed and fully and accurately calculated and completed my federal and state income tax returns. Each quarter, as a self-employed person, I pay my estimated taxes to the federal and state tax collectors, paying extra along with my annual tax returns when my accountant has underestimated those payments, and receiving a refund when those payments were overestimated. I have my employees submit IRS W-4 forms, have their estimated income taxes deducted from their biweekly paychecks, and provide them annual W-2 income tax forms.

I know of people who resist paying taxes, to remove themselves from supporting the military. I believe that we need an effective military and criminal justice system, but that our military is overgrown, and so is the criminal justice system. We live in a national security state that spies on its citizens, and makes our airport passage through TSA checkpoints often less than pleasant. The United States imprisons and jails more people per capita than any other nation.

Instead of paying no taxes at all, it appears that some war tax resisters reduce, accordingly, the amount of taxes they pay. Some decline to pay any taxes, but still submit a tax return — or a substitute "peace return" — explaining why they are not paying. Two websites appealing to war tax resistance are here and here. Here is today’s Democracy Now!’ coverage on the matter, including a Columbia University student who refuses to pay taxes, and says that the risks are low of being prosecuted for such resistance. I do not know whether she is correct; perhaps she is — or is not — making some sort of distinction between those who do not pay based on their conscience, versus those who do not pay all their taxes because they under-report their income or just do not pay in order to have more money available; plenty of such people get convicted and imprisoned. 

I am not a tax resister. I will continue paying my taxes in full and on time. I am certainly not pleased that such a huge chunk of my tax payments go to government activities that I strongly oppose. At the very minimum, I am getting that off my chest here.

Let April 15, tax day, be one of the many days that we reflect on what our governments are about, where they have come from, where they should go, and what we need to do to help our governments proceed in the direction we want. Even if the American government, overall, is better than all other governments, that is not satisfactory. We can do better, and must do better.

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