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On Tax Day, Some Taxpayers Protest Tax Dollars Going to War

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The Ides of April, also known as Tax Day, has rolled around again. For most Americans, birth, death and taxes are just accepted as a part of life. But there are those who, for religious or political reasons, believe they should not have to pay taxes.

KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

At noon today, as last-minute filers pay their taxes, a group of protesters intends to gather outside the post office at Glen Isle Shopping Center in Springfield. Organizers say they will hand out flyers encouraging taxpayers to write their representatives in Washington declaring that they do not want their money going toward the war in Iraq.

Thirty-six years ago, some Americans made headlines when they refused to pay taxes as a way of protesting the Vietnam War. Harry and Elsie Troyer of Springfield remember it well.

They refused to pay the tax which they felt would go directly towards funding war costs.

Their dislike of war stems from their religious beliefs.

They were raised Amish and Mennonite, and believe in implementing the Biblical practice of "loving their enemies" and "turning the other cheek" in all cases.

The IRS says it has not seen a trend of protesters failing to pay their taxes. Michael Divine, spokesperson for the IRS in Missouri, says citizens should think twice before using their taxes as a political device.

Contrary to public perception, the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers as well as other church groups like Jehovah's Witnesses do pay taxes regularly. Jehovah's witnesses follow the Biblical instruction, "Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's," a quote attributed to Jesus.

But people like Elsie and Harry Troyer believe that there should be different options available for those who believe firmly against war.

Many people who encounter the protesters today at the post office will let their message go in one ear and out the other. But for people like the Troyers, they will remember a bit of history.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.