Here you'll find Joe's statement and what have his conscience led him to do.
Author and filmmaker, Hereford
"This government, like all governments, knows full well that even where the British give general consent to the process of taxation it is always and everywhere a grudging and tentative consent, a resentful and querulous consent, a fragile consent that must always be nursed and safeguarded by positive public relations.
But today there exists among taxpayers a reservoir of grievance and hurt that a British government has committed our armed forces into a misguided, mismanaged and illegal war. Increasingly it seems that there exists too, a potential of sympathy for war tax resisters, and, what is more, a vast subliminal potential for war tax refusal that only needs to be aroused by news of widespread tax resistance."
"I consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen. Ever since I received my first wage packet in 1971 I have always paid my income tax. However at the outbreak of the war against Iraq in 2003 I informed the Inland Revenue that as a matter of conscience I was unwilling to see a proportion of my tax fuel this illegal and immoral war, asking that my taxes be redirected instead, towards conflict resolution and peace-building initiatives.
This was a decision not taken lightly for the law is not to be violated wantonly or unadvisedly. But, the law is not an end in itself. It is there to serve human needs and interests. This is my instinctive understanding of the law and any interpretation of the law cannot allow the death or maiming of innocent people. The right to life is an absolute right and any violation of this right can never be justified by ‘collateral damage’ arguments or by narrow utilitarianism, and cannot be traded off ‘in the national interest’ particularly when all other peace-building and conflict resolution avenues have not been exhausted.
"In an age when the effects of mere “conventional” weapons would beggar the belief of previous generations, I, as a British taxpayer, have grave misgivings about how a proportion of my tax is spent on military activities and heinous weapons systems."
"For 30 years I have dedicated my professional life to teaching ethics and religious tolerance and I am deeply concerned about the effects of our culture of violence on the young generation. How can we talk about a culture of peace if that peace is predicated on the existence of weapons of mass destruction? How can we persuade the young generation to cast aside the culture of violence when they know that it is on the threat of extreme violence that we apparently rely for security?"
"The pre-emptive strike of Iraq confirmed my worst fears about our current system, and I engaged in a struggle to change the law so people of conscience will never again be compelled by the state to contribute financially towards institutionalised violence, and be made complicit in state terrorism."
What have his conscience led him to do?
2003 April - Calculated military proportion of income tax at £730.82, made out a cheque directly to the NHS, and sent it to the Inland Revenue. Cheque returned
August - County court hearing (Hereford County Court); oral defence illegally disallowed by judge
2004 February - Joined Peace Tax Seven applying for judicial review
March - Calculated military proportion of income tax at £236.62, made out a cheque directly to the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, and sent it to the Inland Revenue. Cheque returned and currently awaiting a Court appearance
2004 July - Made cheque out for £360.56 to be redirected to the Global Conflict Prevention Pool and 'rolling over' this amount together with previously witheld amount of £236.62. Both cheques returned
2005 January - appears before Hereford Magistrates Court for withholding £629.59 but ordered to comply with the IR order to pay within 7 days or face bailiffs.
In his defence Joe argues that the defining feature about rights, including the right to life, is that they are absolute and not justified by utilitarian arguments or ‘collateral damage’. He believes that there is a categorical imperative that calls all taxpayers to accept that a single person’s life, including an Iraqi civilian, has intrinsic value and worth and cannot be traded off against the security of the majority; particularly when other avenues have not been exhausted.
2005 April - Bailiffs arrive while Joe is at work, and, going beyond their powers, threaten Joe's wife that they will call the police and "break the door down" - Joe, in contact with them over the phone as he could not leave work, reluctantly pays some of his tax to keep them at bay. Joe continues to withhold the rest.
Conscience of Contempt is a project started by Joe Jenkins before he joined the Peace Tax Seven and the ongoing campaign for a judicial review has become a major part of it.
In 2004 Joe made a 12 minute short using some of the material he has gathered and interviews with each of the Peace Tax Seven. This was an excellent film which set out concisely the case for conscientious objection to paying war tax. Already it has been a stimulating and invaluable campaigning tool, shown at over 30 schools, and peace and Quaker groups up and down the country.
Joe then made a full length documentary, in co-operation with Clarity Productions and it is currently in distribution.