Peace Tax Fund: Legislative Efforts in the U.S. Congress

The right of conscientious objection to military service is now recognized by many nations. However, nation-states still force their citizens to finance militarism and war-making in violation of individual rights of conscience. A worldwide movement is gathering momentum to affirm this right of conscientious objection to military taxation. These worldwide efforts are described in the website for Conscience and Peace Tax International, http://www.cpti.ws.

The first Peace Tax Fund Bill introduced in the U.S. Congress was developed by Quakers and others in Ann Arbor, Mich., and was introduced in Congress in April 1972 as the World Peace Tax Fund Bill. A Peace Tax Fund Bill has been introduced in each Congress since then. In 1997, the bill was modified and named the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act, to emphasize the fact that its prime focus is to protect the religious freedom right of conscientious objection to military taxation. It was most recently introduced by Representative John Lewis of Georgia in the 110th Congress on April 18, 2007, as HR 1921. The text of this bill is at http://thomas .loc.gov.

The purposes of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill are:

  • to affirm the religious freedom of taxpayers who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war;
  • to provide that the income, estate, or gift tax payments of such taxpayers be used for nonmilitary purposes;
  • to create the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund to receive such tax payments, to improve revenue collection, and for other purposes.

The lobbying and educational efforts to pass this bill are coordinated by the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF), and the Peace Tax Foundation. The National Campaign is currently working actively to encourage Senate sponsorship of a companion bill to HR 1921. For current history and a description of resource materials, see the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund website http://www.peacetaxfund.org. Here you can find responses to frequent challenges offered to this bill, such as:

Shouldn’t all taxpayers have a responsibility to take part in the collective defense of the country? The Peace Tax Fund Bill would allow conscientious objectors to strengthen and defend the country in ways other than by military force. Those eligible to participate in the Peace Tax Fund would pay 100 percent of their federal taxes. The money, however, would not pay for weapons and military might; it would go instead to solve the problems that lead to the conflicts that result in military intervention.

Would the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill open the door to a flood of special exemptions? In examining the bill, the Congressional Research Service wrote, "Recognition of the special moral dilemma faced by those who must pay taxes in support of military activities to which they are opposed will not open a Pandora’s box to claims by other persons."

To find out who represents you in Congress and how to contact them, use FCNL’s grassroots toolkit http: //capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt. (N.B.: Use fconl, not fcnl).