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War tax re­sist­an­ce: Inland Re­ve­nue threa­tens WRI

The Inland Revenue is threa­tening War Resisters' In­ternational with the seizure of assets because the pacifist organisation is withholding a proportion of income tax due to its conscientious objection to paying for war.

War Resisters' Internatio­nal has been withholding tax – usually about 7% of income tax, roughly the proportion of the military budget – since the tax year 2002/03. In its regu­lar letters to the Inland Revenue, the organisation states:

"We ... dispute that the debt ... consti­tutes a legal debt, as it is a re­sult of a law which violates ba­sic hu­man rights, as imple­mented by the Human Rights Act." In addi­tion, the organisa­tion refers to the tradition of civil disobe­dience, as prac­ti­sed by Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas K Ganghi, or Mar­tin Luther King.

The present dispute is about outstanding taxes for the tax years 2007/08, 2008/09, and 2009/10. In its threatening letter to War Re­sisters' International, the In­land Revenue does not at all mention human rights as­pects, and does not engage with the issues raised by War Resisters' International. The letter simply reads:

"Our records show ... that you have failed to pay this tax on time. You must therefore pay the full amount due im­me­diately ... If you fail to do so we will assume you are unwil­ling to comply and will take distraint action which involves seizing your assets for sale at public auction."

In its reply from 10 Sep­tem­ber, WRI writes: "Again we want to stress that we would very much appreciate discussing this matter with one of your representatives, preferably outside court – and maybe in a public discussion? However, if this matter cannot be resolved outside a court, then we will be prepared to pre­sent our arguments in court."

WRI stresses the human rights of its employees to conscien­tious objection to paying for war. We demand from the In­land Revenue to engage with our legal and moral arguments.