For most people, income taxes are just a yearly annoyance. To George Mummert,
1605 Radcliffe Drive, they are a test of ethics.
Mummert, 33, is a conscientious objector twice over. He not only declined to
register 15 years ago, but for the past three years he has withheld his
federal income taxes because he objects to their use for military purposes.
“I’m to the point where I have to say no,” he told a small group during a
Saturday slide presentation at the Presbyterian Student Center, 100 Hitt
“I cannot, in good conscience, see my money go towards the building up of
weapons,” says the theologian who, although he is not officially ordained,
says he sees himself as a minister. Mummert will receive a master’s degree of
divinity in from
St. Paul’s School of Theology
in Kansas City. He is currently working on his doctoral philosophy
dissertation at the University.
Mummert is part of a national drive for the World Peace Tax Fund. Members of
argue that individuals with strong religious or ethical beliefs against
participation in war should be granted legal taxpaying alternatives.
“I’m not against paying taxes, when they go toward humanitarian needs,” he
Mummert’s slides are supplied by the
national council. The slides and the council’s literature say that 56 percent
of every tax dollar is spent for military purposes. Most economists agree
that arms spending is the most inflationary of government expenditures.
For every $1 billion spent on the military, the slides say, 76,000 jobs are
created. When an equal amount is spent on education, 187,000 jobs are
created, Mummert says.
“It makes no sense for me not to have to go to war, yet have others kill, and
weapons built, in my name,” Mummert says.
Tax resistance can have serious consequences.
On , Mummert received a certified letter from the
which threatened to seize his property and collect from his bank accounts.
Legally the government could take action
, but Mummert says there isn’t much
money in his bank account. His car is in the bank’s name and he doesn’t own
His refusal to pay taxes on ethical grounds could eventually lead to his
But Mummert is steadfast in his commitment. “I made my decision and if it
leads to that (an arrest) then so be it,” he says. “There are times when you
have to make a stand on conscience and let whatever happens, happen.”
Mummert does not feel he will end up behind bars because of the time it takes
for a court case to evolve.
“I’m hoping that in the World
Peace Tax Fund will have passed,” he says optimistically. “I’ll be glad to
pay back my tax dollars when it does.”
bill was introduced to Congress in and
has more than 38 sponsors.
If the bill passes, the military portion of Mummert’s income taxes would be
diverted into a government trust fund supporting peace-related projects.
Although there are other conscientious objectors who refuse to pay any income
taxes, some take less extreme measures to protest against military spending.
Some people withhold $1 per month of their tax money as a symbolic act, says
Susan Morse of 1616 University
“And one thing you can do that is less risky is to request a refund and say
you are paying under protest,” she says.
Ms. Morse, who also calls herself a conscientious objector, has requested
refunds for . She has
never received one.
, however, she withheld payment on her
income taxes as well and has been notified by the
To tax resisters such as Mummert and Morse, the risk they are taking relieves
their consciences. They are no longer contributing to the build up of weapons
capable of destroying the earth.
This does not necessarily relieve their pessimism about the chances that such
weapons will be used.
“If the weapons are ever used, they (the taxpayers) have to take