Vietnam veteran John Dunker pays his taxes. He's just not happy with how it's being spent.
Holding a sign that read, "10 Billion Dollars Per Month For War? No Thanks," he joined other Tax Day protesters Thursday to decry the use of tax dollars to fund wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
About a dozen members of Juneau People For Peace And Justice gathered outside the Federal Courthouse Thursday afternoon, joining many like-minded demonstrations nationwide in Tax Day protests and Tea Party rallies against Uncle Sam's April 15 tax collection.
"We're here because our taxes go to a war we don't support," Elaine Schroeder said. "I am happy to pay taxes that help people and go for jobs and human services, health care, building roads ... but I don't want them going to what I feel causes enormous human suffering."
The protest was held as the IRS prepares to process more than 224 million tax returns worth over $2 trillion in revenue to the government.
Rich Moniak paid his taxes. His son, Staff Sgt. Michael Moniak, has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq. On Father's Day, Sgt. Moniak called home, telling him that he supported the protest.
"He said if he was supposedly fighting for America's freedom, why would he deny his father that freedom to speak out? He's like most soldiers, he is not political. He feels like when he is over there, he is taking care of the troops he is responsible for.
"The military has a concept they call conscientious objection where a soldier can say he doesn't want to fight because he doesn't believe in it. The United States tax payer should have that same right. If we don't believe in war, we should be able to withhold our taxes in a legally, and openly, promoted program that our money would go to."
An estimate by the Friend's Committee On National Legislation in Washington, D.C., shows that for each dollar of federal income tax paid in 2009, the government spent about 33 cents for Pentagon spending for current and past wars; 27 cents supporting the economy; 17 cents for health care; 11 cents responding to poverty; 9 cents for general government; 2 cents for energy, science and environment; and 1 cent diplomacy, development and war prevention.
Dunker said the way tax dollars are spent can't be changed overnight.
"I'm not saying that we don't need any of it," Dunker said. "Any rapid change of policy has to be careful and cautious and thoughtful, otherwise you destabilize world expectations of our behavior. I don't believe in radically saying we need to send every troop home tomorrow. It has to be done methodically, and we as people need to process the situation, individually and as a society."