Dear Uncle Sam: War Tax Resistance Letter to the IRS

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

My letter to the IRS: War Tax Resistance

The following is the letter I mailed to the IRS a few days before tax day about my reasons for not paying federal income tax. This is the first year since leaving the military that I have had taxable income, otherwise I would have done this sooner. Working under-the-table is a much simpler form of protest, and perhaps no less effective, but it also involves no risk and no sacrifice. I am no longer protesting in silence. This is not a symbolic gesture either; I am not paying one penny in federal tax, but instead donating every cent of it to charity. I do not think any less of my family, friends, and neighbors for continuing to pay taxes, however I urge you to consider exactly how those hard earned dollars of yours are being spent. They’re certainly not being spent in our communities. We all deserve better.

13 April 2015

To whom it may concern:

This letter is to inform the United States government that I am refusing to pay my federal income tax for fiscal year 2014 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 our taxes have long been used to fund war and other aggressive foreign policy, and it is getting worse by the day. As a veteran of both the US Coast Guard & the Army National Guard, (one taking me to assist in the relief effort in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, the other to war in Iraq) I have witnessed how taxpayer-funded death and destruction in other countries goes hand in hand with the lack of much-needed resources here at home. For these, and the following reasons, I will be redirecting my hard-earned money to programs of social uplift.

In the American chow halls of Iraq we found Thai food, Mexican food, Italian food, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, healthy and hearty fruit salads including pineapple and strawberries, all the Coca-Cola products we could drink, and never a shortage of steak, stir-fry, tacos, fresh salad, coffee, tea, energy-drinks, cake, cookies, pastries and countless other items, most colleges don’t even have for purchase. All of this was “free.” Only it’s not free. Every plate that every soldier takes, even if they only get a cookie and some grapes, costs the American taxpayer over $20. Even with those plates, many of the guys and gals in uniform still felt the need to spend a few dollars each day at Green Beans Coffee (Starbucks-owned) or Pizza Hut, or Cinnabon, or Subway, or Burger King, etc. Just the profits from food alone are reason enough for these companies to want war, and profits from burgers and iced lattes are peanuts compared to rifles and bombs. As retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler said in the 1930’s.

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
Because of our taxes funding the slaughter of innocent people around the world, resources are lacking in all aspects of American society. We as citizens are left to watch the collapse of our already failing infrastructure while Uncle Sam spares no expense in expanding the ‘war on terror,’ but even the money not funding war is misused and has long been causing detrimental harm to our communities. It far is more likely today that systemically impoverished communities will see a brand-new, state of the art prison fully funded and built to house primarily non-violent, mostly black and brown, ‘criminals’, long before their aging and failing schools are even properly renovated, much less rebuilt. Civilian police departments are receiving MRAPs from the federal government for ‘community policing,’ while art, music, and physical education classes are being cut to make way for more and more standardized testing. Our children need more art, music & physical education, not less. Quality education (including quality higher education and/or vocational training) and the other basic, yet fundamental aspects of life which we all need to survive: healthy food, clean water, basic shelter & adequate healthcare (including mental healthcare) should be provided by any society claiming to be civilized, especially one taxing its citizens to the extent that our nation does.

Along with extreme inequality at home, war leads to huge numbers of people being slaughtered, forced to flee and live their lives as traumatized refugees, or at best, left to sift through the rubble of what remains of their society, and bury their dead while bombs funded with American tax dollars continue to fall from the heavens killing more of their friends and loved ones, and fostering in some of the survivors the very extremism the American government claims to be fighting. Our “elected officials” toy with the idea of leveling entire cities (while simultaneously leveling other cities) and literally joke about it at state dinners, while nonchalantly imposing inhumane sanctions, calling it ‘politics’. These sanctions punish countless millions of innocent human beings, only empowering the very governments they are allegedly aimed at hurting. Sanctions did not hurt Saddam, but they terrorized the Iraqi people. The only way that genuine, lasting change can come to a country, be it Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Iran, or anywhere else, is holistically. A home-grown mass movement from within a society is the only avenue to lasting change. Liberation cannot be forced on a people; democracy cannot be gifted to them either. We have long been spending money which would be better used here at home, meddling in the affairs of others, and worse. Were it not for tax-payer funded interference in Iran in 1953, we would be looking at a vastly different country today. The laundry-list of nations where our tax dollars have been used to destabilize and overthrow pro-democratic governments is as criminal as it is depressing. From Syria to Nicaragua, the dozens of coups our tax dollars have helped fund is beyond comprehension. If American taxpayers knew what they were funding, both covertly and militarily, not to mention who we are supporting through aid and arms sales, and the extent of the ‘gifts’ received by civilian police departments from the military, I would venture to guess that a sizable portion of the population would at a minimum refuse to continue funding this insanity.

As I said, I am not opposed to the idea of taxation. I have paid in full my state taxes. Though I take issue with some of the actions of state governments in both Hawaii & Massachusetts, to the best of my knowledge the states of Hawaii & Massachusetts are not nearly as culpable as the federal government in the destruction of American society, or the slaughter of countless thousands of innocent civilians from Iraq to Somalia and beyond.

I do not seek to pay less than my fair share to my society. Refusing to pay federal income tax is not a selfish act seeking personal financial gain. It is also not an act that I take lightly. This is not a joke. If Americans knew exactly what they were funding, and those we kill were actually humanized to the American public, there would be no more war. I am an American citizen, but beyond that I am a veteran of the US military. I eagerly enlisted at 18 to serve my country, and if that is what I was doing I would still be in the military. I took part in the destruction of Iraq and will have to live with this fact for the rest of my life. As you may know, (according to the VA) twenty-two veterans feel they can no longer live with the guilt forever etched on their consciences, (and mixed with trauma) every single day. It is difficult to reconcile the things we were taught to believe about America as children and still see on the ‘news’ and hear spewing from the mouths of politicians, with the reality of what we experienced. Our taxes would be better spent helping heal the warriors society is as quick to discard as they were to label ‘hero’.

The obese ‘defense’ budget, as well all of the other avenues from which the ‘policy makers’ get our hard earned tax dollars to meddle in the affairs of the world, are not only starving, displacing, and killing countless thousands of innocent people the world over, but starving, displacing, and killing our own, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to understand. I feel about today’s wars, as King felt about Vietnam,

“Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism.”

We are a lot further along that dead-end road to national disaster today than when King was warning us on April 4th, 1967, and the urgency to end senseless war has never been greater. The color of the American president’s skin means nothing to the children killed by his drones, nor does it mean anything to the men who look like him but instead of hearing “hail to the chief’ hear only the hail of bullets from the guns of police officers. Some example we are setting for other countries.

“It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to return to her true home of brotherhood and peaceful pursuits. We cannot remain silent as our nation engages in one of history’s most cruel and senseless wars. During these days of human travail we must encourage creative dissenters. We need them because the thunder of their fearless voices will be the only sound stronger than the blasts of bombs and the clamor of war hysteria.”

Dr. King was right, and it is with his words in mind that I am refusing to contribute one more cent to the death and destruction of people and cultures the world over. It is with the words of Smedley Butler in my ears that I refuse to continue funding this ‘racket,’ which is killing innocent civilians abroad, while my friends, family, and neighbors struggle at home to keep food on their tables and their utility bills paid to for-profit businesses, who not too long ago stole what was once the commons.

Dogs fight. Roosters fight. Human beings may have once had to fight out of necessity when we were living in caves and resources were scarce, but we are no longer living in caves, and this blue-green planet can provide more than enough for every man, woman, and child to have the basics of life. Human beings have evolved. We do not need war to settle our disputes. We are not at war to protect ourselves; we are at war because it is the most profitable business on the planet. We are at war because we are greedy. We are at war because we socialize our children to see other people as less than human. I have learned that I have far more in common with the average Iraqi citizen than I do with every single member of congress. The Iraqi people do not want war, it has been forced on them just like the American and German made chemical weapons were forced on them in the 1980’s. Saddam Hussein did not in any way represent the Iraqi people. Kim Jong Un does not in any way represent the people of North Korea. Ali Khamenei does not represent the people of Iran. The truth is that Obama, the Bush family, the Clinton family; even the Kennedys do not represent the people of the United States. Yes, day-to-day life is better in the US for more people than it is in any of those countries but you don’t have to dig too deep beneath the surface to see the harm that comes from what the taxes of hardworking American citizens are used for.

Since I do not trust that the tax dollars I pay will be earmarked for peaceful purposes even upon my request, I am instead donating the full amount that I was asked to pay in federal taxes instead to organizations working to improve the human condition. Since I have no problem, as I have said, paying my fair share as a citizen towards the betterment of society, rather than funding war and aggressive foreign policy, I will be donating the hours of my life society deems it necessary for me to contribute to the greater good, to the areas of society that need it most, instead of to war without end:

Human Rights

Civil Rights


The Arts

Healthcare (including mental healthcare & healing)


The Environment

I am making donations to the following non-profit organizations, totaling the amount I was asked to pay in federal taxes, since these organizations will not be using any of the money to kill innocent civilians or negatively impact the lives of anyone on the planet (actually, just the opposite). They all serve to improve the human condition. Please feel free to look them up on the internet.

-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

-Vermont Horse-Assisted Therapy

To quote Dr. King (a man with a federal holiday in his honor, and a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as an FBI file) for the last time, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” That is exactly what the bombs are doing as they explode in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Yemen and Somalia, in Iraq and Syria, in Libya and in Uganda, but the bombs falling on schools and hospitals in Gaza are also keeping Detroit from thriving. It is not just the bombs that we drop, but the weapons we build and the massacres we make possible. I have had enough. As a human being, I am not going to stand for this insanity any longer. So long my hard earned dollars are taxed away to be spent on violence, on death, on destruction…on war, I will ensure that every penny which I owe is rerouted to fund peace. I love the people of this country, but I love all people. Taxes are not inherently bad when they are used for the right reasons, when they are used to lift up rather than tear down, used to build rather than to destroy.

As 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

Jordan River Blues

I’ve got the Jordan River blues

they’ve got me on the news,

I’m drowning.

Rivers of blood flowing

carloads of tourists

going wine-tasting

and manger praying

eating stolen olives

we’re black sheep grazing

too far out

while I’m walking on water

I’m a fisherman

drown in Galilee

down and out

by the sea


Mediterranean resort

kill ’em all for sport

Gaza on my mind

where jellyfish stings

bring tear gas tears


shift the gears


sand running

stuck in rubble-filled

school yards

books still burn

in piles

pills piled up

sky high on


piled up on splintered

wooden tables

built by bastard carpenters

for last suppers

need more wine


forgive them father

these Roman soldiers

must be


all they needed was a


they fell off the wagon

sweet red wine

washing down war crimes

this is my blood

sweet red

no water left for Bedouins

to walk on

and on

and on…

walking on

no newsman can erase

footprints in the sands of history

repeating itself



like the golden rule

do unto others

have them

realize we’re all sisters

and brothers

and have been



buried beneath settlements

cut down like olive trees,

kiss me on the cheek

and on the 3rd day

I’ll be back

if I don’t have a heart attack

offer up my other cheek

we’re brothers,

I don’t want you to hang

have another

cup of my blood

makes the green grass grow

another cup of my blood

lets get drunk,

toss those coins in the well

wish on silver stars

these scars can heal

just look at these hands

touch these hands

walk hand in hand

sands cover history

cover time

cover tombs of our children

forgotten in these sands

forgetting that

this is holy land

and you are

and I am




but houses built on graves

stone our own flesh and blood

forgotten siblings

alone and forsaken

half buried in the mud

eat my body

and drink my blood

forget me not

as I rot

beneath the rubble

of rotten humanity

in trouble

this is my SOS

shit on shingles

buried up to my neck

broken back

broken heart

don’t know where to start…

I am your brother

Palestine is our mother

laying on her death bed

drink this wine

and eat this bread

it’s all I have to offer

they confiscated my boat off Gaza

no more loaves and fish

wish I was back in Tiberius

drinking wine with my brother

skipping stones on Galilee

maybe float dehydrated

on the dead sea

scroll through channels

this shit is depressing

my brothers oppressing me

but I forgive them

and me

we know not what we do

and see

settlers with tired eyes

and tattoos honoring dead grandparents

but hate for one

won’t erase the crimes

of another

won’t you please forgive us all,


We’re walking through sandstorms

with two blind eyes

waiting on a king with one

to philosophize,

tell us we’re right

tell us it’s all


tell us it’s all going to be all


but we’re all wrong

paving paradise’s streets

with bomb after bomb

still sing psalm after psalm

I fill rivers and drown

in blood and tears

drunk on bastard’s blood

gouge out my eyes

king me

while I sing

these Jordan River blues

stroll into town

greet me like a king

with palm fronds

kiss my ring

high on life

high on myself

drunk on my own blood now

who needs loaves and fish?

I wish I could put that bottle down

sweet red wine

running out of time

running out of wine

find me singing the blues

beneath the 2,000 year old

olive trees

find me

passed out


and alone

here in the Gethsemane

they never let me

past the gate.

Salty Tears


I have yet to find a bridge

and I’ve struggled to pick a poison

I’ve only been able to pull the trigger

on one-way tickets

to the middle of the Pacific

where the suicidal thoughts wash away

with each wave after wave

and each papaya and mamaki tea

and day by day

it becomes easier to forget…

and to remember

that we’re just a grain of sand

on an endless beach

and sometimes the stars

and the planets

seem within reach

and when I clean my glasses

and focus

I see a billion galexies

and behind them

billions more

so, how can I dwell on greed

and poverty

and war

when the whole planet

is hardly more

than a grain of sand

on an endless beach

and the whole universe is within reach

and within each

and every last one

by one

by one

from the ants marching

to the soldiers

laying down their guns

rusting from years and years

of salty tears

grinding gears of war,

halting more

cancerous decay

of the human race

and though space is infinate

we must slow the pace,

about face,

begin to heal the ‘aina

heal ourselves

heal the earth

our mother is worth more

than we could ever imagine.



Clean beaches

clean rivers

and clean consciences

pure hearts and minds,

find the time

to unwind

and imagine humanity

the way it could be

the way it should be


a world free of hatred and greed


free your mind and


because none of this is set in stone

the way things are doesn’t have to be…

So, if you’re standing on the bridge

crying over man’s inhumanity


and pull the trigger

on a one way ticket

to the middle of the Pacific

or anywhere

somewhere in the sun

and relax…

take a deep breath

and know

with our children

and ancestors

our enemies

and our friends

with the earth




and spirit…

we are all


Skyping Emma In The Berkshires

I miss simple days

like when we were Skyping

with Emma in the Berkshires,

over watermelon and hookah

in the shadows of the Baha’i temple

in the old German Colony

in that Mediterranean port city,

mixed more than most today,

where Isaac and Ishmael

at least tolerate one another

but Ishmael is stuck

at the back of the bus,

forced to drink from his own fountain,

and Jim Crow and Jesus Christ had the same initials

and at that ramshackle bakery

I was introduced to zaatar

for the first time

in this land of loaves

and fish,

and introduced to gorgeous women

with nineteen-year old flirtatious smiles

waiting in line for Gelato

with machine guns slung

over halter tops and skinny jeans,

in this land of milk

and honey in my tea

and the olive trees lack sunlight

in shadows of concrete

but the walls are miles away from here

and here

feels almost European

feels less obvious

feels almost fair

separate but…

equal if you can ignore the conscripted kids

too young to understand

socialized to see

a dehumanized enemy…

and this mint lemonade

helps soothe my hookah-smoke singed throat,

watermelon helps cool me down-

town for a whiskey later

helps smooth the sharpness of this reality-

just one ice cube

don’t water down,

truth is

it doesn’t seem so bad

it’s almost European

almost better

than Jim Crow



where my ears strain to understand

both Arabic and Hebrew

as I try to puff ringed-smoke signals to the universe…

at the cafe

eating watermelon,

and smoking hookah,

as we Skype

Emma in the Berkshires

it’s easy to forget

about checkpoints

and concrete walls,



and rubber bullets,

here at this cafe

where yesterday

can seem a world away…

so, lets stay

for one more hookah,

one more watermelon,

and a last round

of mint lemonade.


It was easy to forget,

too easy, in fact

though I remembered from time to time,

I still forgot

and I promised I would never forget,

promised I would be back before long,


but I forgot

and this summer will be four years,

and I’ve yet to return

but I want to

and have wanted to

and I feel so damn helpless

and it hurts to think about

and it’s not fair,

they’re good people

I know that life’s not fair,

but still…

they deserve justice

and I know

there are countless other places to go,

people to meet,

there are countless other people suffering

but they’re family now

they took me in

from chain-smoking on the sidewalk

and offered me coffee,


and family

and the days

and the weeks flew by too fast

and goodbye was hell

and I promised I would be back

and Nasim said, “everyone says they’ll be back”

and that hurt

because right then

I wasn’t sure if I believed my own words

and I know he wanted to…

and things weren’t great that summer

but they’ve gotten worse

and worse

by the year

and lately by the day

and since that summer

I haven’t been back

and Nasim got out last summer

just as shit was hitting the fan,

living in poverty now in Eastern Europe

trying to help his family


and his people

and he was alone and forsaken

when we last spoke,

with an expired visa

and expiring hope for a better life

for more than a refugee camp

and broken dreams,

and now his family is broken

and he needs help

and money is a shitty substitute for action

perhaps better only than prayers

in that it actually got him the insurance card and visa

and food in his belly,

but I had forgotten…

life got in the way

and I’ve yet to return

and I still intend to…

to break bread with this beautiful family again,

in this beautiful

but sad and desolate place

this prison with all but bars and shackles,

but time keeps moving,

more land keeps vanishing

more babies keep growing up

into yet another generation with no reason to hope,

more elders keep dying with broken hearts and dreams

erasing history,

erasing memories of beautiful homesteads

and olive farms,

leaving only symbolic keys

hanging by thinner and thinner thread

to a place long ago destroyed.

If I could trade places with him I would,

If I could self-immolate on the white house lawn

to end their collective suffering

I would do it right now

but I can’t

and Western-Unioning money

to a forgotten brother

in a far off land

who is homesick for a sick home

only makes me more ashamed to be human

to live in a world where Isaac slowly suffocates Ishmael

while the rest of the family eats settlement hummus

and stolen olives

and pretends that some lives matter less

or not at all,

pretends that history doesn’t rhyme…

and I lay awake now thinking back

to black coffee

and two packs

of cheap Palestinian cigarettes a day

and my soul dying from bearing witness to this madness

but my heart growing from seeing the love

this beautiful family has for each other

and the love they showed me

as I stood there chain smoking

on the sidewalk

in their refugee camp

and Nasim knew I was lost,

and when I was hungry they gave me to eat

and I can’t look at a Christmas tree

or Christmas lights

without thinking of that modern day manger,

surrounded by walls of cascading concrete

surrounded by hate

trying their best to hold on to love

and I will be back…

and I will never forget…




Three o’clock in the morning

driving west down the turnpike

chasing down the moon

it’s not quite full

my mind overflowing

want to run on empty…


hours later

for a moment

it drains quick

and here I am,

now feeding birds

at the Quabbin,

precious life

eating from my palm.


a beautiful thing.


all too rare in man

but here the chickadee

and the titmouse

the kinglet

and the nuthatch

and all their songbird friends

find their faith rewarded,

and they eat their fill

and I am reminded

that I’m just one part

of this universe

no better,

no worse

than the songbirds

my friends,

happy to ring in the new year

with song and feast

and for a moment

on this cold


New England

New Year’s Day

I have again found peace


in the overgrown orchard


in the present

with no fear of tomorrow,

and no tears

for yesterday.

For a moment

full of mana

and empty of worry,

for tomorrow

I spread my own wings


like my feathered friends

and fly

back to the garden…

songbird who sings

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone. -Kurt Vonnegut


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