1. Content and character of the proposed act
This proposal intends to give accommodation to those taxpayers who have serious conscientious objections to a fiscal contribution to government expenditure for military defence.
The chosen structure consists in new provisions to incorporate in the Income tax Act, the Tax on Salary and Wages Act, the Property Tax Act and the General Regulations of government taxes Act.
The character of the proposal can in short be described as follows the tax-payer declares in a particular way to the Collector of the direct taxes that he has the above mentioned objections, after which in a relatively simple way a certain percentage of the amount due is transferred to a fund specially established for this purpose, the peace fund.
2. Freedom of conscience and the constitution of the state
Freedom of conscience is one of the pillars of our constitutional system.
The recognition of freedom of conscience however does not at all implicate that the citizen can shirk his legal duties without punishment, if he has conscientious objections to fulfil these obligations.
The person who, on grounds of conscience, is of the opinion that he is obliged to ignore legal duties will as a rule expose himself to juridical sanctions: in many cases even to penal prosecution.
It may be considered a characteristic of progressive civilisation when a state increasingly gives accommodation to conscientious objections of its citizens.
In the Netherlands the legislator has recognised conscientious objections in many domains. This happened among others in the domain of the performance of military conscription (Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act), in the domain of compulsory social insurances for everybody and of compulsory social insurances of employees, in the domain of compulsory motor vehicle insurances and with a legally compulsory financial contribution to the development of nuclear energy (the so-called Kalkar-levy).
A first general characteristic of the mentioned regulations is that the legislator only gives accommodation to conscientious objectors as far as it concerns individual moral constraints, moral judgment, the judgment about good and evil as guide for acting, is considered a very individual matter and is sharply distinguished from judgments of a different nature, such as political, psychological and social judgments. In this way it can be prevented that damage is done to the democratic principle that governs the Dutch constitutional system, according to the generally accepted view: in this approach, respect for the conscience of the citizen may not result in this citizen, alone or in groups, crossing the decisions of the legislator.
With that we reach a second general characteristic: the recognition of conscientious objectors may never frustrate the object that the legislator has set out to achieve by introducing a certain regulation. When the legislator's aim is to protect fundamental juridical values such as public health or peace and security, he will in recognising conscientious objectors choose ways that will not endanger the juridical values.
A third general characteristic of the here mentioned regulations is that the citizen who on grounds of his moral and conscientious objections is exempted of certain obligations, as compensation has to fulfil a different obligation of at least the sane size or weight. Likewise a conscript, who is recognized as a conscientious objector according to the law after a successful request, is obliged to obey to a summons for compulsory non-military service. People exempted from paying insurance premium for the social insurances have to pay the sane amount as they would have paid if the objections had not been recognised, to be paid as extra tax on salary and wages or income tax. Comparable solutions have been found in the cases of compulsory insurance against civil liability in relation to motor vehicles and the so-called Kalkar-levy. In this way the legislator has sought to prevent that other citizens without conscientious objections would be discriminated against arid in fat would have to pay for the conscientious objectors.
The constitutional legislator has, after ample discussion in parliament and the professional literature, abandoned the idea of inserting into the Constitution a provision in relation to freedom of conscience. The motive for this decision was that if such a provision would have been inserted, immediately a very broadly formulated exceptive clause would have had to be added to it. This result was not surprising in view of the above. Nevertheless, the freedom of conscience is inserted in international treaties to which the Netherlands are a party: article 9 of the European Convention for Human Rights and article 18 of the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights.
Recognition of conscientious objections against obligations towards the government is an indication of the democratic quality of a state, as respecting minorities is an important aspect of the democracy.
3. Conscientious objections and military violence
The Dutch citizen is in different ways involved in a security-policy, based on military means. In the first place he may (if he is a man) be summoned to perform compulsory military service.
In the second place he may join the army on a voluntary basis, either as a member of the military, or as a civil servant of the Defence Department.
Furthermore his contribution can be of a more indirect nature, because he contributes, by paying taxes, to the general resources which for a certain percentage are used for the maintenance of the military force.
It can be said that everybody who participates in the economical and juridical life, in one way or another - at least financially - contributes to the general resources, and with that to the maintenance of the military forces. These military forces, which have a constitutional status (article 98 Constitution), have as their purpose the defence of the country and of the citizens against an aggressor.
The Dutch military forces have been, ever, since the policy of neutrality was abandoned, incorporated in an international treaty organisation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Within the framework of this organisation scenarios based on the application of violence, have been developed, in which even mass destruction by means of application of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons is taken into consideration. Many people have insuperable conscientious objections against the application of my military violence; for some people on the one hand military violence is a necessary evil for the defence of country arid citizens, but on the other hand the possible application of nuclear means of violence is morally unacceptable.
Of course both groups can express their opinion by means of social actions and by mobilizing political parties, and can try to accomplish that the Netherlands will abstain from (nuclear) military violence, but this does not change the fact that the individuals belonging to these groups may find it morally unjust that they in sane way actively give a substantial contribution to a violence machine with a task such as that of the Dutch army has at this moment.
The legislator did give to those who as a conscript in the Dutch military force have to contribute actively, the opportunity to be exempted from that obligation. Since 1979 the criterion for that is that they must have insuperable conscientious objections against personally performing military service on the grounds that they would thus be involved in the applications of means of violence in the framework of the Dutch military forces (see also article 99 Constitution).
In this procedure it is not sufficient if the person concerned simply states that he has insuperable conscientious objections; he has to submit to an examination. The Minister of Defence has the objections examined and thereafter decides positively or negatively.
Against his decision an appeal can be lodged with the Section competent for contentious administrative business of the Council of State. The case law of the Crown and, at present, of the Council of State referring to article 2 of the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act shows clearly that there have to be personal, moral objections and not political, psychological and other objections against the military force and the Dutch society.
For some people this legal possibility does not offer an acceptable solution. In this different motives can play a part. For instance the person concerned may deny the state the right to examine his conscientious objections. The point may also be that there are (primarily) political considerations. The person, who nevertheless does not wish to use the legal possibility, is prosecuted penalty and convicted because of breach of the Code of Military Penal law, the Conscript Act or the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act.
4. Conscientious Objections and Taxes
During recent years some thousands of taxpayers have expressed their conscientious objections against paying tax money insofar as it is spent on military purposes. Same of them organized themselves in the Movement of Refusal of Defence-tax. One of the action-methods used consisted in paying an amount considered to be the percentage of the State-budget assigned to the Defence Department, into a
peace-fund and therefore not paying this amount to the Collector of the direct taxes on assessment.
Repeatedly courts of Law have unfavourably answered the question whether the taxpayer with conscientious objections can be given accommodation in the existing law. In this sense the Supreme Court considered in a sentence of May 1, 1985 (BNB 1985/186), that the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act does not contain regulations concerning objections like the ones involved in that particular case. According to the Supreme Court especially the duties described in article 9 of the aforesaid Act cannot be understood to be similar to payment of a tax-debt. The Supreme Court at the same time rejected the idea that a parliamentary and social development was taking place that could justify the acceptance of a legal rule or legal principle to which the application of the fiscal legislation had to make way. This principle would according to the person concerned, consist in the increasing recognition of conscientious objections in the fiscal domain.
In a previous case it was decided that the idea that in the regulation of tax-assessment allowances have to be made for the objections which can be considered serious conscientious objections, cannot be seen as a general principle of correct administration (see the sentence of the Appeal Court as reproduced in the sentence of the Supreme Court dated January 25, 1984, BNB 1984/114. In a sentence of the Appeal Court of The Hague dated November 5, 1979 (BNB 1981/76) tax-refusal on grounds of principle was also under discussion, but in that case the point of issue was not the spending of tax-money for the national defence, but for foreign development aid. The party concerned had not paid 3% of the total amount of the tax-assessment imposed on him and stated that he had serious conscientious objections against the involved governmental expenditure. The person concerned referred to the European Convention, especially to article 1 of the First Protocol. This appeal was dismissed by the Appeal Court, because the aforesaid rule provides explicitly that the rule concerning the respect for everybody's private property does not in any way deny the right of the State to secure the paying of taxes. Furthermore the Appeal Court considered that in the Dutch legislation no general rule exempting the citizens from their legal obligations on grounds of conscientious objections is to be found. Making allowance for conscientious objections on such a large scale can disturb the dirigibility of the country in a serious measure, certainly when this extends to the destination of tax-money.
The Appeal Court reasoned that it is the task of the legislator to consider separately for each rule, whether and if so, how to make allowances for conscientious objections.
As this case law does not leave any space at all, so the legislator has to interfere.
Is such a legal regulation indicated, however? Within the Council of Churches this has been discussed at length. The final point of view that was reached, mentioned in the
Reaction of the Council of Churches concerning refusal of tax states among other things:
All churches recognise the seriousness of conscientious objections and the necessity to deal with that carefully. In the discussion there were two opinions. On the one hand legal regulation of the refusal to pay tax is seen as a strike at the roots of the democratic legal order, of the equality of everybody for the law and of the reciprocity in rights and obligations. On the other hand there is the opinion that the government does not have the competence to force the members of a religious community to commit acts which they cannot reconcile with their profoundest religious conviction and therefore creates in them a conscientious conflict.
This leads to some conclusions of which we cite two
1. that the churches regard with respect arid understanding those who have conscientious objections against paying defence-tax; (...)
3. that the discussion on this issue in the Council and in the churches should be taken further with vigour, especially on the question which actions have to be undertaken to relieve the conscience of the objectors.
In the report
Conscientious objections attract attention of the scientific institute of the political party Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) (May 1983) the conclusion is reached that there are no fundamental reasons that could impede the recognition of conscientious objections against paying of the part of the direct taxes that can be considered to be destined to the military defence. The authors of this report are also of the opinion that
as yet practical organisational impediments have not been made plausible. This conclusion was reached following a discussion of sane important preliminary questions.
In the first place the relation between the taxes paid and the expenditure for military defence objected to be discussed. The report correctly showed that there is no direct relation. The tax-payer does not pay in the case of the income tax (or tax on salary and wages) for a special purpose, as was for instance the case with the so-called Kalkar-levy.
Paid tax-money goes into the general resources. After this the legislator decides to which purpose the general resources may be spent (article 105 Constitution). This is called the budget-right of the legislator. The question that canes up now is whether someone can have conscientious objections against this legislative destination of the tax-money for certain purposes, as one is not directly responsible for this destination and, moreover, one cannot have conscientious objections against the acts of others, in this case the legislator, this in view of the most individual character of the conscientious objections that are to be recognised. The CDA-report rightly disagrees with this, stating that the herein mentioned cases do not concern conscientious objections against a certain budget-item, but insuperable conscientious objections against paying part of the due tax, which objections are related to that item.
Insofar as one has to pay that tax oneself, a personal act is required so that in principle the concept of conscientious objections is applicable.(page 55)
In case it is clear that part of the general resources is spent on defence, it can be said that in fact one contributes to military defence by paying tax. In that case somebody may - as the report states - have conscientious objections.
This point of view, shared by the introducers of this proposal, certainly is not shared by everybody. In a letter of April 12, 1984 to the Inter-church Peace Consultation, the Roman-Catholic Bishops conference has expressed the opinion, that because taxes are not levied for a special achievement of the state on behalf of the paying citizen, but for the whole of the collective good cared for by the state, there is no place for a regulation on behalf of conscientious objectors on this point. In the view of the conference, defence, along with the maintenance of public order, seawalls etcetera, belongs to the so-called indivisible collective services: services which every member of the society is provided with arid that from their nature cannot be denied to those who do not appreciate them. The decision-making on such collective goods can only be done by the competent state-organs; in a democratic rule-of-law-state on the one hand there is the obligation of tax-paying and on the other hand the right to participating in the decision-making by means of active arid passive suffrage, freedom of speech and freedom of association, freedom of public meeting and of demonstration.
A legal possibility to be exempted - and very selectively at that - from the obligation of tax paying, can strike at the roots of the principle of democratic decision-making about the government-budget, equally binding for all. According to the conference this is a crucial impediment to the provision of possibilities of dispensation in paying taxes. It is significant that the money that because of the exemption of the person concerned does not have to be paid as tax will go into a find with another destination than the destinations of government expenditure laid down by parliament.
This would inevitably lead to either higher taxes for the people who do not have conscientious objections, or a lower level of expenditure for the collective goods concerned. This would be contrary to the principle of democratic decision-making.
In a letter of September 19, 1983 to the secretary of the Council of Churches, also the Interchurch Contact in Government affairs (do) has expressed its view that, locking at what is said in the Constitution about the national defence and its budget (artt. 97 up to and including 99 and 102), it couldn't possibly be demanded that the legislator should make a legal provision as mentioned here.
According to the CIO such a legal provision could only be advocated or considered if the issue was a so-called purpose-levy and therefore the military would be financed by specific means such as, for instance, a defence-tax. A similar situation occurred in the past with the so-called Kalkar-levy.
According to existing constitutional law (article 102 Constitution) there is no specific levy on behalf of defence nor could there be one. Therefore (in the point of view of the do) the necessary constitutional basis for proposals as expressed here does not exist. As a second objection the CIO considers that, if a provision would be made for conscientious objections against general tax-levying because of a partial destination, such as defence, there would also be the necessity to create the sane possibility of a provision for lots of other partial domains, against which individuals may have conscientious objections. This point of is for that matter also expressed by the Bishops conference in its above-mentioned letter. The
CDA-report Conscientious objections attract attention (page 57), too, states that possible conscientious objections against paying part of the tax on other domains then those of military defence have to be treated in the same way. The CDA-report does not, however, consider this an insuperable objection. A concept for such a general legal provision was introduced in the professional literature by Drs. G. J .M. Jacobs in his Publication
The note of assessment - a voting-paper? WFR number 5577, February 3, 1983, pages 151 and following.
We have to give further consideration to the briefly mentioned objections above. In the first place the objection that the tax-levy is general and is not specifically on behalf of defence, in combination with the argument that defence is a collective good from which an individual cannot stain. This objection presumes that the conscientious objectors would not appreciate a security-policy as an indivisible collective good. Such a presumption does not do them justice, because their objections are only directed against the application of military means to guarantee security. Their objections do not at all concern the payment of taxes or the obligations to pay taxes, but are aimed exclusively at the military destination of money that canes out of the taxing-system. We therefore do not consider the aforesaid objection convincing.
Of course, strictly speaking, the term
defence-tax is not correct, because there is no so-called purpose-levy on this matter. On practical grounds alone we would not want to make a proposal to create a purpose-levy in this matter. In our opinion, however, the objection is too formalistic all the same. Neither treaty-provisions, nor the Constitution object against the creation of a legal provision giving accommodation to the objections of the person concerned. Furthermore it is evident that every taxpayer contributes to military expenditure in a certain part.
Neither can it be ignored that a serious problem of conscience may arise for individual citizens in this matter and in fact will continue to do so. The purely technical-juridical difference between purpose-levy and general taxes cannot be decisive for the judgement on the acceptability of the recognition of conscientious objections. The suggestion that the creation of this possibility would strike at the roots of the democratic decision-making in one way or another has to be rejected. For it has to be stressed that the point at issue is an individual problem of conscience which in our opinion does differ from political opinions and motives.
Next, the objections from the view of the democratic legal order.
Our proposal does not impede the budget-right of the house of representatives. During the process of giving the law that holds the governmental-budget the expected amount of money involved with this provision has of course to be taken into account.
This amount will go into a fund that will be instituted by law and of which the purpose and control is laid down by the legislator.
In this respect the democratic procedures also remain unimpaired. If at any instance the house of representatives would be of the opinion that collective goods, such as national defence, were endangered, it would be free to take this into account when deciding on the budget for defence.
Our proposal may implicate a rise of taxes. However, consideration has to be given to the fact that the activities that will be made possible through the institution of a peace-fund, into which a certain percentage of the money that conscientious objectors paid to the tax-collection will flow, will have to be directed towards upholding fundamental legal values, and that these activities are also in the interest of people without conscientious objections.
The legislator has the power, laying down the yearly budget, to make certain activities that henceforth are undertaken by the peace-fund no longer chargeable to the other departments.
In this it is not necessary to think of the department of defence only; the department of development aid and also for instance the department of social affairs, the department of welfare, public health arid culture arid perhaps other departments can be involved.
The next problem is to establish whether it is necessary to introduce a general legal provision for conscientious objections against tax-destinations. It is true that conscientious objections can also exist and in reality do exist against destination of tax-money on other domains than military expenditures.
A juridical sentence that held the decision in a case of a tax-refuser who had conscientious objections against development was already mentioned above. Yet we do not feel an obligation to propose a general legal provision as was advocated amongst others by Drs. Jacobs in his aforesaid publication.
The legal provisions in the domains of the social insurances and Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act are made, because conscientious objections asked for attention and recognition not only in an incidental case but in great frequency on these matters.
This is also true in the case of the military destination of tax-money. In other domains the problem only occurred incidentally. Of course it is imaginable that this will be different in the future, but in itself that is not reason enough for a general legal provision. In the report
Conscientious objections attract attention of the scientific institute of the CDA the following is said about this problem:
There are conscientious objectors againstdefence-taxeswho try to weaken the argument that in that case all conscientious objections against parts of the obligation of paying tax have to be recognised, by claiming a special position for their conscientious objections that are connected to such essential matters as peace and security. In our opinion not rightly. It is not up to third parties to state in general that a certain kind of conscientious objections is less obligatory than another kind. In our opinion it would be right to say that conscientious objections are most likely to occur when essential values are involved. For the essential values are so profoundly anchored in us that conscientious objections arise from them. It is also correct that most of us will have the opinion that the values involved with defence are more essential than the values on the ground of which somebody can have objections against, for instance, a certain (read sort of) development-aid. But on the subject of conscientious objections the point is not what we, bystanders, feel as essential, the point is whether the person concerned himself considers a certain value so essential that this value for him leads to a conscientious objection. Once such a conscientious objection has arisen, from the point of view of the conscientious objector every non-recognition will be a grave matter, whatever the subject of the objections of conscience may be.
We can agree with this. But that does not mean, that it is absolutely necessary to introduce a general legal provision now, and that a specific legal provision as proposed by us would be entirely wrong. Herewith one has to take into account that along with the introduction of an exemption, a provision has to be instituted for an alternative obligation which has to be a burden equal to the obligation from which a person is exempted.
In our proposal this alternative obligation takes the form of a payment into a peace-fund. Of course this solution is exclusively suitable in the point of the refusal of paying tax in behalf of military expenditure. This means that in other domains, should the problem arise, other provisions more fit for the category concerned have to be made.
A requirement that has to be met by a legal provision like the one proposed here is that it constitutes a real accommodation to the citizen with conscientious objections. It is not acceptable to send this citizen off empty-handed. What would an examination of our proposal shad regarding this aspect of the issue? In comparison with the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act it shows an essential difference. Based on the provisions of that act, a recognised conscientious objector will not have to offer any active contribution to the Dutch military fortes, as he is not required to perform any duty within that organisation. The issue of conscientious objections against the military destination of tax-money is quite different and also more complicated. For if, as we propose, a legal provision in the atmosphere of the income-tax (or tax on salary and wages) and property-tax is chosen, a great number of financial obligations of the citizens towards the state continue to exist, which obligations he sometimes can shirk, but often cannot shirk or only with great difficulty. The Value Added Tax in the European Community countries, the special consumption tax, the immovables-tax, the tax on transfers, the corporation tax, the legacy duties arid all kinds of fees, dues, royalties arid payments to government-controlled monopolised public utilities, have to be mentioned in this connection.
Moreover, the proposed legal provision will not apply to additional assessments of income tax or tax on salary and wages. So the citizen who will use the possibilities of exemption that we propose, will, also in the future contribute financially to military expenditure, made by the spending of the general resources, by means of other payments to the government.
In itself it is conceivable that also in other regulations such as the income-tax, the tax on salary and wages and the property-tax, an identical possibility is included, but a system that offers a 100% guarantee that the citizen who has objections will not even contribute a single penny to military expenditure, is not even conceivable; quite apart from the actual impracticability, of which the technical-juridical aspects would not pose the biggest problem.
In this framework another possible objection has to be considered also the money paid into the peace-fund will for an important part be spent on projects which, if the peace-fund would not exist, would have been charged to the accounts of the various departments. There would be a substitution-effect. Due to this effect the budget of the department of development-aid could be diminished by budget items that henceforth would be financed by the peace-fund; the same could apply to the other departmental budgets.
Consequently the payment into the peace-fund would not have any effect.
Does this objection cut ice? We do not think so. Admittedly, it cannot be precluded that there will be a substitution effect as mentioned above. Every imaginable concept in which that would be excluded would inevitably implicate an encroachment upon the budget-right of the legislator, whereas we wish to respect this right. Complete security that the citizen with conscientious objections will accomplish a real move in the government expenditure can never be offered.
On the other hand it is plausible and also explicitly the intention of our proposal that expenditures which received no consideration for governmental support before at least not in the sane measure from the peace-fund will be financed. Moreover the quantity of the mount that is yearly paid into the peace-fund is a political signal, not to be disregarded, that can also play a part in the parliamentary discussions about the budgets of defence and development-aid and the discussions about the budget of the kingdom in general. Just accommodation is thus also given to those conscientious objectors who consider an exclusively symbolic-expressive meaning of the exemption to be insufficient.
The only thing that cannot be offered to them is a direct influence on the government expenditure as laid down by the democratically chosen organs of our state-system. This is however, as already argued before, an inevitable consequence of the fundamental difference between political and conscientious objections.
For those who consider the possibility here offered to be insufficient, other ways are left open, such as trying to influence political opinions and decisions.
Do the conscientious objections of the citizen who wants to use the possibility of exemption as we propose it have to be examined?
If this question would be answered affirmatively a system would have to be framed for a procedure of examinations including possibilities of appeal and such.
In our opinion an examination will only be necessary when the alternative obligation, which the objector is expected to fulfil, is not equivalent to the obligation he would have to perform if no possibility of exemption had existed. For in that case one cannot exclude the possibility that use of the offered legal provision will be made rashly.
In the framework of the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act a procedure of examination has been included. This examination was however subject to criticism during the parliamentary dates which led to the change in the law of 1979, and that criticism has not died down since.
The examination has a strung inquisitorial character and is often seen as harassment by the people concerned. The Association of Conscientious Objectors take the potion that the examination should be abolished.
In this respect the provision in the Coordination of Social Insurances Act and the other acts concerning social insurances created a precedent: in these acts an examination-procedure is not provided either. The verification as created in article 5 of the Crown Decision of June 17 1980 (Stb.358) based on article 17 of the Coordination of Social Insurances Act is certainly not to be considered a procedure of examination. Practically speaking moreover, a procedure of examination is a burden on government because of the necessary extra money and the increasing caseload for the organs of examinations that would have to be instituted. Admittedly theoretically speaking these extra costs could be paid by those who wish to use the possibility of exemption by demanding of them an extra contribution, but against this there are objections of a principal nature, namely those based on the principle of equality. Rightly, such a solution is not chosen in the system of the social insurances.
6. The peace-fund
The peace-fund is in our opinion necessarily connected with the accommodation given to taxpayers who have Conscientious objections to the military destination of tax-money. A construction has been chosen in which the Minister of Defence has the direction and therefore parliament has the controlling function. In circles of the peace-movement a proposal to create a fund under private control has been made.
We consider this construction inappropriate, especially because the relation with the defence-budget would not be clear In the ruling opinion the defence-organisation has to guarantee peace and security. The objectors contribute to the peace-fund and can in this way stimulate peace and security in a non-military way. There is no reason why this matter should not be subject to parliamentary control.
On the grounds of the above a budget-fund as referred to in article 87 of the Governmental Bookkeeping Act has been chosen
It is proposed that the fire is brought under the control of the Department of Defence. Herewith it is emphasized that the peace-fund and all those whose tax-contribution is partially paid into the peace-fund serve the fundamental legal values of peace and security, the way the military force is also provided to protect these interests - in the ruling opinion.
The present category of objectors completely endorses the idea that security-policy is an indivisible and collective good; they are of the opinion that this has to be served well by means of non-violent solution of conflicts. In our state system the minister of defence is politically responsible for that.
7. Aims and purposes of the peace-fund
Because the defence-expenditure is considered to guarantee peace and security of the inhabitants of the Netherlands, it is obvious that the purpose of the peace-fund is in keeping with that idea, but of course in a way that gives just accommodation to the moral motives of the citizens contributing to that fund.
The presumptions that are the basis of the option to come to a solution of conflicts by means of a military organisation are most probably not endorsed by the objectors. Inquiry into the presumptions which are the basis of other ways of solving conflicts and the propagation of the knowledge about this is related closely to their view, on the defence of Dutch territory.
The problem of peace and security can no longer be seen or solved within national boundaries.
Security problems are entangled in economical power relations. Victims of this situation are especially to be found in the Third World.
Economic disfunctioning in the global framework results in a poignant poverty which cannot be solved within the near future. The economic relations have ecological, environmental consequences which exhaust the natural resources of the Third-World countries at a great pace, and will lead to incalculable damage in the long run. It is obvious to use the peace-fund also on behalf of the victims of the present situation.
8. Financial consequences
Conscientious objections against the military destination of tax-money arise from the view that the expenditure for military defence is paid out of tax-money, and therefore one also pays for military expenditure by paying tax. This view is correct, be it that the relation between taxpaying and specific governmental expenditure has an indirect character. The manner in which the tax-money is spent is decided by law.
It is true that with the knowledge of earlier budgets a reasonably reliable prognosis can be made for the future budget; security on this ratter never exists. During the process of giving the budget-law, it is not taken into consideration which part of the income through taxes will be used to finance a certain budget-item. Consideration is given to how much the tax-pay is expected to be, how much the financing-deficit will be, and how much therefore has to be borrowed on the capital market.
Possible proposals coming from parliament, consisting in changes in the budget that include increasing the costs, make it necessary to find ways of financing these additional expenditures.
Considering the system of the governmental budget therefore it cannot be stated that a certain percentage of a certain tax goes to the defence. Fixing the percentage as has been done in our proposal, stems from the idea that the conscientious objections are directed against that part of the expenditure of the kingdom which is laid down in the budget of the department of defence.
The sum of the governmental expenditure is 190 thousand million (Am: 190 billion) guilders; the defence-budget for the year 1987 is 13.7 thousand million guilders. It is obvious to take 7 % of all expenditures as a standard for all conscientious objections against the military destination of tax-money.
Strictly speaking the consequence of this opinion would be that of all revenues of the kingdom from tax-money, i.e. +/- 120 thousand million guilders, 7 % has to be paid in the peace-fund.
The provision would then have to apply then to the direct and the indirect taxes.
However, this creates nearly unsolvable problems; therefore it is proposed to apply the aforesaid percentage exclusively to tax on salary and wages, income tax and property tax. These taxes amount to one third of all tax-revenues of the kingdom, +/- 42 thousand million guilders.
In this approach it can be stated that, if 1 % of all Dutch tax-payers would make use of the afore-mentioned legal provision, the peace-fund would receive yearly about 30 million guilders a year.
A yearly revenue of some millions of guilders seen to be a correct prognosis.
Explanatory statement per section
Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8:
These articles, concerning the Advisory Council, were almost literally taken from the articles 3 to 8 of the Media Act (Mediawet)
In a number of legal provisions a procedure of examination is incorporated. The clearest example thereof is the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act, in the framework of which conscientious objections are examined, first by the so-called commission consisting of one person (the unus), then to the commission consisting of three persons and finally in appeal by the Council of State, if necessary. It is a severe examination.
In a number of other legal provisions instead of an examination there is a much simpler procedure, in which the conscientious objector simply states on a form the fact that he has conscientious objections.
In our proposal the simple procedure has been chosen. The taxpayer expresses to the Tax Collector that he has insuperable conscientious objections against a military destination of tax-money, after which the Collector takes the necessary steps and pays the amount calculated by him into the peace-fund. A further regulation will have to stipulate that the taxpayer has to be informed in writing about this payment.
In relation to the percentage mentioned in paragraph 3 we observe that different choices are possible. One of the possibilities is to take into account that percentages which the defence-budget constitutes of the total tax-revenues. This amount is considerably lower than that of the total budget. This option is not chosen because citizens co-finance in an indirect way the difference between tax-revenue and the governmental expenditure. Participation in loans by institutional investors, revenues from natural gas etcetera may be considered.
Not all Dutch taxpayers are assessed on the basis of the Income Tax Act, as a large group is subject to an advance levy based upon the Tax on Salary and Wages Act.
In the proposed formulation of article 66b Income Tax Act the word
assessment, is used and not the word
Through this approach it is achieved that the provision only applies to the so-called prime assessment and not the additional assessment or the assessment consisting of an advance levy.
This concept has been chosen because the additional assessment is an exception and not a rule, and mostly implicates that the tax-payer has made a mistake which has to be corrected, and the inclusion of the additional assessment would complicate the proposed legal provision considerably, which is contrary to the idea of deregulation of the legislation.
For the same reasons the choice has been made to leave the assessment consisting of an advance levy out of the framework of our proposal.
Due to structure of the tax on salary and wages, not the withholding but the payment by the employer is the moment on which the tax collector gets the money. The taxpayer, the employee, cannot influence that. The legal provision does not take effect until the payments are done.
There are cases in which an employee is allowed to settle the tax on salary and wages, in spite of the fact that this tax has not been paid, namely when he, in good faith, believed that this tax had been paid. In that situation it is obvious that the tax collector, who did not receive any money, will not pay anything to the peace-fund. It may occur that after a period of time the indebted tax on salary aid wages will be paid all the same, for instance by an additional assessment. Normally this will happen without the knowledge of the objector, so that this possibility has been abandoned for practical reasons.
The addition of a third paragraph to article 65 is necessary to provide for the situation that the tax-assessment will be reduced officially later, or that an official decision is taken to give back tax on salary and wages.
Because the Collector himself cannot dispose of the money in the peace-fund, he can only return the part of the tax-money in which had not been
objected to. In itself in case of an official reduction it would be right to give back the part
objected to, but that would very much complicate the provision, so that this has been abandoned.