Tax collector takes War Resisters' International's war taxes

War Resisters' International will continue to withhold war tax

WRI's war taxes on the wall at 5 Caledonian RoadWRI's war taxes on the wall at 5 Caledonian Road

Today, a tax collector of the Inland Revenue visited the office of War Resisters' International and collected the withheld war tax for the financial year 2002/03. WRI staff, volunteers, and the WRI Treasurer were present, and had put the money up on the wall sticked to a poster reading 'War Resisters' International's war taxes', flanked by nuclear missiles.

War Resisters' International's tax resistance goes back to January 2002. In September 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Center in Washington and the Pentagon in New York, War Resisters' International issued a call for conscientious objection to war and preparation for war, in which it also called on "all those who pay tax: demand that your taxes are used for peace, withhold the proportion of tax used for war, Say No!" [1] As a consequence, WRI staff asked the WRI Executive to withhold a proportion of their income tax.

In its letters to the Inland Revenue, War Resisters' International always offered to the Inland Revenue the opportunity to pick up outstanding war taxes in cash in the office, but also declared firmly that WRI would not cooperate, and would not be prepared to transfer the outstanding amount or to write a cheque. Prior to the court hearing in February [2], the Inland Revenue declared that they are not prepated to send a tax collector, to collect cash. It seems now, faced with the option to either get a new court order to send the bailiffs, or to send a tax collector, the Inland Revenue decided for the latter.

While the outstanding taxes for the financial year 2002/03 have now been taken by the Inland Revenue, a similar process can be expected for the financial year 2003/04, and for future years, as War Resisters' International is continueing to withhold the proportion of its staff's income tax that is used to pay for war (at present 7%).

"We are prepared to go to court again, to fight our case against war and militarism, against the conscription of our taxes for the purpose of war and aggression, as presently in Iraq", declares Andreas Speck, office coordinator of War Resisters' International. "We don't expect to win in court, but this is a matter of principles. We are convinced that the human rights to conscientious objection - and this organisation helped to bring about the right to conscientious objection to military service, and continues to do so on a global scale - also includes our right to conscientious objection to military taxation. It will take a while until this get recognised, but when this organisation was founded, back in 1921, only four countries recognised conscientious objection to military service. We don't want to wait 80 years for our right to refuse to pay for war, but we are convinced that sooner or later we will get this right."

For more information, call Andreas Speck at War Resisters' International, Tel +44-20-7278 4040.

Notes:

[1] SAY NO! A Call For Conscientious Objection to War and War Preparations, 21 September 2001, http://wri-irg.org/statemnt/sayno.htm
[2] Court orders War Resisters' International to pay war tax, 09 February 2004, http://wri-irg.org/news/2004/wri-in-court2.htm

Background documents from War Resisters' International

Exchange of letters between the Inland Revenue and War Resisters' International (2002): http://wri-irg.org/news/2002/officewtr.htm
Press release, 10 September 2002: http://wri-irg.org/news/2002/officewtr2.htm