Request for PTF / WTR Historical Information

September 2000

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We need your help.

Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI), an international association uniting several national organizations campaigning for peace tax legislation and resisting war taxes, wants to investigate the history of such legislation and resistance.

Why? Because, in many countries, CPTI people are challenged to prove that their aims are not unrealistic. To meet that challenge, many of us seek to find historical precedents for our positions. Some of us are aware of a few such precedents; as far as we know, however, these precedents have never been gathered together, nor is there any comprehensive study of this subject. We believe, therefore, that a historical overview of war tax resistance, and of precedents for the recognition of conscientious objection to military spending, would be of great value for the aims of CPTI and its members. The point of this overview would be practical rather than scholarly, though of course whatever points we end up presenting to those who doubt us should be based on historically precise information.

We are proposing not a work of science, but a practical exchange of ideas, information, and experiences. The particular subjects we are interested in include the following:

  1. people refusing to pay taxes or levies for ongoing warfare, for armaments, or for the upkeep of the military;
  2. people refusing to pay taxes or levies imposed on them to substitute for their being unable to perform military service (e.g., because of a physical disability);
  3. people being granted the right to be exempted from paying taxes for war; official reactions to war tax resistance and conscientious objection to military spending, e.g., on the part of governments and military authorities;
  4. judicial decisions relevant to this question;
  5. parliamentary and legislative documents relevant to this question;
  6. precedents bearing on the legal questions that peace tax legislation would entail (legislative sovereignty, defence as a collective good, the floodgate argument, the organization of revenue services);
  7. declarations made by religious and other ideological/philosophical institutions.

We are, obviously, at the first stage of this project; and what we are asking for, at this moment, is suggestions about what documents are relevant, what to read and hear and see, whom to get in touch with. Specifically, we would be grateful for suggestions regarding any of the following:

  1. books, documents, pamphlets, articles, recordings, and videos to consider;
  2. particular precedents to investigate;
  3. archives to explore;
  4. scholars and other knowledgeable people to get in touch with.

We've written this memo in English, as being a language that many CPTI people can use. But we'd be happy to receive responses in any language. If we ourselves can't read that language, we'll find someone who can. And of course, the materials you suggest will be in numerous languages; and at some point, when we've gathered a first batch of material, we'll set up a multilingual group of readers to go over it.

We thank you in advance for whatever you can contribute, and we ask your forgiveness for addressing you so impersonally.

Sincerely and gratefully,

Bart Horeman (

Larry Rosenwald (

for Conscience and Peace Tax International