Paying for War


Sitting here working on my taxes at the last minute, after having just watched President Bush’s appalling performance at his only press conference of 2004, and having just read about the plans for an all-out Marine assault on Fallujah and Najaf if truce negotiations break down, I found myself wondering how much of my taxes were going to support the Iraq atrocity.

A call to Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice gave me the answer. About 25 percent of my income tax payment. Of course, that’s a rough estimate, based upon the prediction that this year’s income tax will bring in $765 billion in revenues, and that the Iraq war is costing almost $200 billion for the year.

That’s something to think about as you’re mailing your envelope to the IRS tonight. For a typical family with a taxable income of $60,000, and a typical tax bill of $8626, that works out to an Iraq War tax bill of about $2150. For a family making $100,000 in taxable income, with a typical tax bill of $18,614, that is a war tax of about $4650. Even a student making a taxable income of say $7000, and paying a tax of around $700 to Uncle Sam is paying around $175 to support the killing in Iraq.

Oh, but that’s not all. If you’re one of those who pays your taxes on line, you should also remember that the federal tax you pay on the phone line you use for your dial-up or DSL service is, and always has been a war tax, pure and simple. Lyndon Johnson, trying to come up with ways to pay for his own war, hit on the idea of the federal phone tax which, once instituted, has remained with us ever since, funding Pentagon extravagance and now, Bush’s war.

If that information doesn’t get your blood boiling, you should go check the Citizens for Tax Justice website ( and check out how much you’re actually saving from Bush’s trillion-dollar tax cut plan for the rich.

According to CPJ, if you’re in the group of taxpayers who’s family income is in the range of about $36,000, you’ll be saving about $827 this year. That may sound like a nice piece of change, but it pales to insignificance when compared to the family in the big McMansion down the road that has an income of $200,000 and that’s seeing their tax bill drop by $6800 this year. Go figure. If it were even moderately fair, that tax break of $827 you’re getting should be no more than six times as great for someone earning six times as much as you, or about $4900. And for the family earning $1 million, assuming they’re really paying their taxes, their Bush savings is over $52,000. Over the full 10 years of these tax cuts, the picture gets even more outrageous. The folks earning that puny $36,000 in taxable income will save a total of $6500, while the $200,000 family will net almost $90,000 and the millionaires will save a whopping $665,000! It’s really another way of pointing out who’s really paying for this war, when you come right down to it. The wealthy don’t only get to avoid the fighting and dying. They also get to avoid having to pay for it in Bush’s America.

I’d go into this some more, but as it is, I’m probably going to be racing down to the Philadelphia main post office tonight to file my taxes before midnight.

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CounterPunch contributor DAVE LINDORFF is a producer along with MARK MITTEN on a forthcoming feature-length documentary film on the life of Ted Hall and his wife of 51 years, Joan Hall. A Participant Film, “A Compassionate Spy” is directed by STEVE JAMES and will be released in theaters this coming summer. Lindorff has finished a book on Ted Hall titled “A Spy for No Country,” to be published this Fall by Prometheus Press.