Spanish War Tax Resisters Win Their Court Appeal

I try to keep one eye on the war tax resistance movement in Spain, which seems to be the most active and innovative of such movements internationally. Lately I’ve noticed some announcements from within that movement that the Spanish government has been cracking down more severely than usual on such resistance.

But the resisters are fighting back, and here’s some good news (reporting by Emilio J. Martinez from El Diario, translation mine):

War tax resistance is still not a right, but neither can it be punished

Two residents of Alcoy achieve “a partial victory” as tax resisters, in that a court rejects a fine that had been imposed on them by the Tax Agency for redirecting via their tax returns €300 each to non-profit social organizations

In 2018 in all of Spain, 335 resisters have been accounted for across 30 provinces, who redirected €35,882 with an average amount per person of €107, with Alicante being one of the provinces with the most resisters, twelve

Jùlia Moltó and Tirs Llorens don’t hide their satisfaction, although they acknowledge they’re not at the end of the road. They have achieved something with limited precedent — at least as far as we know — following the footsteps of the former member of the group Citizens for Change in Catalonia, Joan Surroca, who freed himself from the fine imposed by the Tax Agency.

In the case of that mentor, involved in numerous social causes, it was the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia which in rejected the fine that the Tax Agency had imposed in for redirecting the military spending portion in his tax return to social purposes.

The Catalan politician set a precedent which has served as a guide for this couple from Alcoy who “from the beginning” have been declaring themselves tax resisters, a practice that however led to a tax infraction warning from the Tax Agency in for having redirected €300 each in their income tax returns, using the theory of war tax resistance, to various local non-profit groups during the tax season. The fine was €150 per person, which, once you take into account the corresponding deductions, comes to €78.75.

Like Surroca, these activists from the Ecologist Team of La Carrasca / Ecologists in Action had attached along with their respective tax returns a letter addressed to the director of the Tax Agency in which was explained the motive for the tax resistance, that is, that they were not going along with the “inordinate” spending that the state gives to the military, and that it was not the case that they intended to stop paying entirely, attaching in support of this the receipts that proved their deposits of €300 in the bank accounts of different social groups in the Alicante region.

The response of the tax agency was as they expected. It explained that they did not recognize the right to tax resistance or redirection, and so they threatened to collect the redirected amount through some alternative means. “Without going along with this judgment, we had no choice but to pay in fear of them seizing our account,” says Júlia Moltó.

The surprise came later, when at the beginning of the Tax Agency notified them of the penalty proceedings. “It’s one thing that they tell you they do not share your interpretation that you have the right to conscientious tax resistance, but it’s another thing when in addition to not agreeing with you they fine you,” says Moltó. So, following the path laid down by Surroca, two months later they filed their appeal with Chamber 1 of the Valencian Regional Administrative Economic Court, where they argued, on the one hand, that the purpose of war tax resistance was to preserve the right to life and the integrity of all people, issues protected by the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was also pointed out that there was no refusal to pay, but that a part of the taxes (corresponding to military spending) had been redirected to social purposes. “There has not been any concealment or fraudulent intent,” they declare.

And following this, they put forward another important argument. They argued that the principle of the presumption of innocence had been violated, since the rejection of the arguments by the Tax Agency did not address “in any way the possible ‘guilt’ of the objectors, but, exclusively, the fact that war tax resistance is not accommodated in the tax law.[”] The response of the court to the appeal came , ruling for the plaintiffs and tossing out the fine, judging that “a sufficient motive has not been established” for the guilt of this couple from Alcoy, according to the sentence.

The Campaign

“Our ultimate objective is that by repeating these actions over a long period of time the administration ends up by recognizing the right to conscious objection to military taxation and by reducing military spending,” explains Jùlia Moltó, as the Defense budget of the government of Pedro Sánchez intends to rise to €8,537 million in the imbalanced budget this year.

“It’s our understanding that the right to life is a basic and fundamental right, and ought to be a higher priority than tax regulations,” added Adrián Vahillo, of the Tortuga Antimilitarist Group of Elche, a group that rallies at the doors of the Tax Agency every year, as they did in , to protest that military spending in Spain amounts to €884 per person, and they proposed that this money be used to finance projects linked to progress in social solidarity.

In all, in the past year in all of Spain, 335 resisters have come forward, distributed across 30 provinces, who redirected €35,882, with an average amount per person of €107. The real figures might be higher “however many [resisters] don’t tell us,” says Vahillo. Biscay, with 114 resisters, took the lead, followed by Lleida (53), Gipuzkoa (36), Madrid (28), Álava (14), and Alicante (12).