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What if we all stopped paying taxes?

For the first time, I’ve decided to do war tax resistance by withholding a percentage of the money I owe the Federal government. Below is the letter I wrote and sent to the IRS along with the taxes I did pay.

More information about war tax resistance can be found on NWTRCC’s website. If you feel upset that our government spends billions of tax payer dollars on war each year, I hope you’ll research alternatives: you can resist by withholding a symbolic amount (even $1!), a percentage, or withhold all that you owe.

You can also pay your taxes and send a letter voicing your dissent, if that is what works for you. There is not a wrong way to be a war tax resister. I hope my letter may inspire you to consider and explore this powerful and historic method of nonviolent resistance.

In peace,

Shannon Richmond


Dear friends at the IRS,

Concerning the Federal taxes I owe for 2015, I cannot in good conscience agree to pay this amount to my government which will use 45% of tax dollars to support current and past military expenses. As a conscientious objector to war, I do not support the violence of war, which includes the harm and killing of human beings and decimation of the earth and other living beings.

I am withholding 45% of what is due. I have redirected the money to the Peace Tax Escrow Fund, under the care of the Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. This fund will be released to the government as soon as the Peace Tax Fund bill (Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act of 2015, H.R. 2377, Congressman John Lewis) is approved.

I have come to know that all life is sacred, and I am heartbroken that our government continues to use violence as a strategy for safety and peace in this world. The violence of war appears to work in the short term. Yet it has high long-term costs on people, relationships, and the one planet we share. There are many methods of using nonviolence instead, even on the international level.  Our failure is a lack of invested energy in the study and practice of nonviolence, not a lack in the capacity of nonviolence.

I am not opposed to paying taxes. However, I feel anguish to know that in 2015, $1,307 billion dollars were spent on war when there are so many needs in our communities.

What role does each of us have in perpetuation of war? My role has been silent compliance of paying my taxes. I am choosing to speak now: I will not consent to my money paying for the destruction of land or living beings. I cannot support the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, or Iraq. I have friends in these places; I do not need to know their names or faces to know they are friends. I know they are human beings with dreams, aspirations, and families. I know that while they may differ in religion and culture, these differences are not the cause of violence. Violence is not inevitable; it is a choice we make when we are desperate and do not know how to choose anything else.

I feel heaviness to know of the struggle of our veterans to return to civilian life after serving in the military. Addiction, PTSD, suicide, unemployment, and imprisonment are common realities. Our wars have destroyed the lives of many of our own citizens, of many of our own brothers and sisters.

I appeal to you, at the IRS, to remember the humanity of those abroad who our government is attacking and killing, to remember the humanity of our soldiers, to remember my humanity as a conscientious objector to paying for war, and to remember your own humanity. We can do better. It is time we ask our government to do better.

In solidarity for a peaceful world,
Shannon Richmond
As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

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