Open Letter to the IRS

Letters to the Portland Editor, April 16, 2010


After the first year of the administration of the candidate who ran on a platform of change, the biggest change is the name on the door. Under President Barack Obama the United States still has military in the Middle East, is still bailing out businesses that went bankrupt due to uncontrolled greed, is still disrespecting fundamental rights of citizens at home and abroad, and is still ensuring that insurance companies will profit from human illness. Now more than ever it appears that there will be no change in the fundamental ways in which this country functions and treats its people.

In my state, schools are forced to decide which essential programs they must cut because there is insufficient funding for all necessities. In my state, homelessness is on the increase, and resources to help the homeless and hungry are dwindling. In my state, big-box stores are rewarded for eliminating jobs and cutting wages. In my state, the only real change from before the 2008 election is the name of the official saying “No.”

And that means there can be no change in the way I handle my own fiscal obligations. I still believe that government has a duty to help those in need and to support or provide the services, materials, and diversions that make life possible for some, richer for all, and still find my government not doing so. As in past years, I have scrupulously calculated what I owe under tax regulations designed to make the lower and middle classes fund the luxuries of the upper classes, and from my payment have withheld $50. This $50, plus federal taxes I have withheld from my phone-bill payments, I am donating to the Haymarket People’s Fund, which provides support for the programs Obama only talks about (if he does even that).

Change is not always bad; some changes are not only good but crucial. I will change my approach to taxation when my government changes its approach to policy. Change can not be merely a slogan; it must be a plan with intention. I will pay my taxes in full when my country changes its direction. Until then, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, I will be the change I want to see in the world.

--Seth Berner

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