this is an edited version of the longer letter i mailed to the IRS before tax day. I edited it down to under 500 words so I could submit it to my local newspaper.
13 April 2015
To whom it may concern:
This letter is to inform the US government that I am refusing to pay my federal income tax, as an act of civil disobedience, because I cannot in good conscience do so. I fully understand the point of taxation and how we should all contribute to society; however, I do not see wars of aggression as a valid contribution. I do not disagree with taxation in principle, rather with the fact that Uncle Sam spares no expense funding war and aggressive foreign policy while our children are losing more art, music, and gym classes by the day, our elders are forced to work into old age, and my fellow veterans are committing suicide by the dozen. Our infrastructure is collapsing and we are fostering in some of the survivors of our wars the very extremism the American government claims to be fighting. The only way we can heal our communities is to stop stealing their money to fund war. As Dr. King said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” The bombs over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond, are doing the same thing. The only way that genuine, lasting change can come to any country is through a home-grown mass movement by the residents of that country. Liberation cannot be forced on a people; democracy cannot be gifted to them.
This is not a selfish act seeking personal financial gain, nor is it a symbolic gesture. Rather than fund war I’ll instead be donating every single penny I owe to the following organizations in support of human rights, civil rights, education, the arts, healthcare (including mental healthcare) and the environmental:
-The Arredondo Family Foundation, Swords to Plowshares, Warrior Writers, The Mission Continues, Food Not Bombs, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, Iraq Veterans Against the War, International Rescue Committee, National Lawyers Guild, Calling All Crows, The Prisoners Literature Project, Delancey Street Foundation, Partners In Health, STRIDE Adaptive Sports, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, It Takes A Community Foundation, Earth Guardians: Youth For Global Sustainability, Red Gate Farm Education Center, SEED OF LOVE Farm & Garden Education Center, The Bing Arts Center, and Vermont Horse-Assisted Therapy.
As Henry David Thoreau said, “If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”
I refuse to be an enabler.
Jason Robert Mizula
Kualapu’u, HI/Greenfield, MA/San Francisco, CA