Complicity and Collection: Religious Freedom and Tax
44 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2015
Date Written: 2014
This Article focuses on how the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill might be improved so that members of Congress enact it. The bill would allow war tax resisters who qualify as pacifists to direct their tax money to a separate fund not to be used for military spending. At present, the IRS is expending time and resources trying to track down tax resisters, which results in loss of revenue for the government. This Article argues that passage of an amended version of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill would eliminate the tension between the IRS and war tax resisters by increasing revenue to the United States while respecting religious freedom.
Section I of the Article defines the term “war tax resister” and explains the difficulties of conscience faced by war tax resisters. Section II suggests the U.S. military’s definitions of conscientious objector (both current and past) could be used to determine conscientious objector status under the revised bill. Section III traces the history of war tax resistance, which puts the purpose of the bill in perspective by explaining the difficulty the IRS has faced in collecting tax from war tax resisters and the difficulties war tax resisters have faced in avoiding complicity with war, which they see as a sin. Section IV discusses the relevant case law and why, thus far, war tax resisters claiming constitutional protection against tax collection have been unsuccessful, making passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (as it is currently called) necessary. Section V explains the history of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill, and Section VI suggests changes that might ensure passage of the revised bill.
Keywords: war tax resistance, religious pacifism, religious freedom, taxation, conscientious objection, law and conscience, civil disobedience, tax revenue, tax collection
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