Successes and Failures

Group 3

Although Group 3 did not specifically address Lessons Against War Tax from the Gulf War we did learn about the successes and failures of the campaigns in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, USA, Germany, Italy and the UK.

In Spain between 1000-2000 people try to refuse war taxes and the campaign is eight years old. One protestor  paid his tax with books on non-violence! There have been seizures of both property and of money. The Spaniards at the conference felt strong enough to invite the whole international conference back in 1994 to Spain!

The strength of the Belgian campaign can be seen by the excellent organization of this conference, rather than by the 50 or so Flemish people who seek to refuse war tax. Some priests are among these.

The Netherlands takes 940 guilders in military tax per person per year. Some resisters chose to withhold this amount, while others withheld 572 guilders per year. This is the number of cruise and Pershing missiles which were to be stationed in the country. Three churches have petitioned the government to create legislation for conscientious tax refusal and these letters can be used in other countries.

Tax Payers for Peace in Sweden started with 50 in 1989, and since the Aosta conference has grown to 150. They try to withhold 8% of their tax, and are actively seeking cooperation with other Nordic   states.

Besides the educational Hearing Number 1870 in the US Congress (attempted for 20 years!), the big news from the US is that a house sold by the Internal Revenue Service (sometimes known as the Eternal Revenue Service) in payment for a war tax debt, has been occupied (either house or site) for 24 hours ever since the sale. It is the first time that a house sale for tax resistance has been contested AFTER the completion of the sale. The US phone bill tax was levied to support the Viet Nam War, and now many people refuse 3% of their phone bill in protest. There is now a free counselling line. Forms for the Alternative Revenue Service are widely distributed.

Germany's campaign began in 1984 with the refusal of 5M72, and now 800 people have joined. They use Not with MY taxes stickers on cheques, bills and coins. An astonishing campaign in Italy is taking place, with 7000 labourers refusing military tax, 100 lawyers working for the cause, and 25 cases have been won! The people who divert their taxes can decide where the money goes. The Italian campaign will soon circulate a paper on the basis for its successes.

ACTION: Can we try to establish in Peace News (55 Dawes Street, London   SE17 1EL, England) a small paragraph about the campaign in your country, maybe twice a year, so possibly having a different country each month? Please write to Congressmen Rangel and/or Rostenkowski (US Congress, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC) letters of appreciation for the hearing, and ask for copies of H.R. 1870.

Ellen Moxley