In an email sent to sympathisers Roy Prockter, War Tax Resister and member of the Peace Tax Seven (PT7), wrote about his latest dealings with HMRC and the mistreatment he has faced for taking a stand on his beliefs.
Roy has withheld 10% of his taxes (the percentage that goes towards military spending) for many years. As part of the PT7 he took went to the European court arguing for the right of those with a conscientious objection to war to have the part of their taxes currently spent on war and the preparations to war spent on non-military alternatives instead.
HMRC have finally decided to do something about the Tax I haven’t paid, but this time they sent a man round!
The first time he called I was not at home, so he left a letter and a message on the voicemail – I gather the message was strong and aggressive, but unfortunately it was accidentally deleted before I heard it.
I sent a full reply to the letter by fax to the number given the next day.
Next thing I knew it was Tuesday afternoon, when my wife was startled by a face at the window, peering in. She waved him toward the front door which I opened – He was a tall chap and I noticed his boots were heavy too – mind you it wasn’t nice weather!
He asked me if I knew the tax was unpaid and if I had the means to pay it, and I confirmed that I did and that I could, but that I was refusing to do so.
I told him I had replied fully to his previous letter, and offered to print him a copy, inviting him to step in from the cold for a moment whilst I did so.
The printer was off, so it was taking a while to warm up, so I went down and told him it would take a few minutes.
Then he asked me my reasons for refusing, when I said conscientious objection to military taxation he started getting agitated, asking if I objected to paying for schools and hospitals as well – I said that I’d be pleased to pay for schools and hospitals if I could do so without paying for the military to kill people.
He then said that he’d met some nutters in his line of work, but I took the biscuit!
I decided that his rudeness indicted that I shouldn’t leave him alone in the hall so asked him to leave – without the copy of my letter and told him to refer to his own office for that.
So I’ve made a written complaint about both the sending of an officer when I have clearly stated that I will not pay and why, pointed out that I won’t be intimidated, and about his behaviour, and also about the lack of internal communication and briefing by HMRC of someone sent to meet a taxpayer in person.
All in all, I’d welcome a bit of what Quakers call ‘prayerful support’.
conscience does not advocate the act of withholding tax. For those concerned about paying taxes for war, there are alternatives to war tax resistance available – conscience provides information about these on our ‘get involved‘ page. The alternatives are an effective form of protest for those seeking long-term political change. However, if you decide that your conscience directs you to withhold the part of your taxes that funds war, or preparations for war, conscience will be able to put you in contact with others who have taken a similar stand and can offer you information on what to expect.