An international pacifist network based in London have agreed to hand over five years’ worth of unpaid taxes to the UK government – under strong protest.
War Resisters International (WRI), a global network of anti-militarist groups have withheld a percentage of their tax every year in protest against expenditure on war and weapons.
Tomorrow (17 January), they will hand over the money in cash at the headquarters of HM Revenue and Customs, while supporters demonstrate outside the building.
The payment will be made two days before a planned visit by bailiffs who would have carried off WRI’s computers if the money had not been paid.
“At a time of crisis, most people detest tax evasion and want to defend public spending to meet social needs,” said Howard Clark, WRI’s chairman and a leading writer on nonviolence. “We too. We have not evaded taxes, but openly withhold them as a public protest against government lies and disregard for international norms in its participation in military intervention."
Explaining their position, WRI criticised the UK government’s high military spending and manufacture of “weapons of mass destruction” and drones.
However, WRI add that they do not support any kind of war. They believe that war is a crime against humanity. They support active nonviolence and efforts to tackle the causes of war.
WRI estimate that up to ten per cent of UK taxes go to fund war and preparations for war.
In 2011, the UK's military spending was £39 billion. This has risen almost twenty per cent since 2002. This puts the UK fourth in a list of military expenditure – above Saudi Arabia, France, Germany and Brazil.
"As an organisation employing pacifists and working for the right to conscientious objection to militarism, the WRI Executive Committee has tried to grant our employees the option to object to war taxes," explained Clark.
WRI has over eighty member organisations in over forty countries. UK-based members include the Peace Pledge Union.