Ahimsa literally means "the avoidance of violence." Your
tax dollars support a lot of violence in the world these days. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office reported that
the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will approach $2.4
trillion over the next decade. But your tax dollars also pay for important services—road construction, public schools, and assistance to the poor, including $4.4 billion in aid to Africa. Our taxes represent both positive and negative forces.
Apply the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita, in which Lord Krishna tells the warrior Arjuna that he must battle his own family because it is his duty. Krishna reminds Arjuna that
he cannot know what effect his actions will actually have.
Philosophically speaking, you can't know whether the acts committed with your tax dollars will ultimately prove beneficial or destructive. But failing to file your taxes could land you in jail. At a minimum, you would face a mountain of interest, penalties, and tax liens.
You can, in good conscience, limit your tax contributions. Americans overpay the government an average $1 billion every year. Some 11 million people fail to take the Earned Income Tax Credit and various education credits. Hire a tax professional (a CPA or an Enrolled Agent) to make sure you're maximizing the deductions available to you. And examine the forms of violence you may be unintentionally perpetuating; we unknowingly contribute to violence through certain products we consume.
Brent Kessel is the author of It's Not About the Money. Submit a question about being more yogic with your money to firstname.lastname@example.org.