It has come to the attention of conscience – through one of our members – that there are many more war tax resisters in the UK than we have knowledge of. Not all war tax resisters have told us of their actions and not everyone who sends a Peace Tax Return to HMRC relays this information to us. Therefore, we decided to send two freedom of information requests to HMRC asking:
- How many people have withheld some or all of their tax in the last 5 years because they did not want their taxes to contribute to the military, war or the preparations for war or because they were conscientious objectors to military taxation?
- How many people in the last 5 years have requested that the part of their taxes that currently goes towards the military, war, the preparations for war or killing be diverted somewhere else?
In their response HMRC stated that they did not retain statistical data on how many people want their taxes to be diverted, but they do keep data on conscientious objectors.
Unfortunately, they have estimated that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit (£600) to be spent on freedom of information requests, therefore the department is not obliged to comply with our request. However, we still have options that we are looking into. The first is to see how much our request exceeds the appropriate limit, and then fundraise for the cost or we can change the scope of our request, for example by narrowing our time scale to one or two years, to see if we can bring the cost of the request down. We will keep you updated with our ongoing requests.
What we have learnt from this correspondence with HMRC is that when engaging with them about war tax resistance and not paying for war and the preparations for war, we MUST raise the fact that we are conscientious objectors to military taxation. Conscientious objection is a legal right and HMRC keeps records on correspondence with conscientious objectors.