New Mennonite War Tax Redirection Fund in the Works

At #MennoCon19 (the Men­non­ite Church U.S.A. bi­en­nial con­fer­ence) , Harold A. Penner and John Stoner hope to launch an al­ter­na­tive fund for Men­non­ite war tax re­sist­ers:

Creating a Church Peace Tax Fund

Desiring to teach one another the ways that make for peace in our congregations, this seminar proposes the creation of a Church Peace Tax Fund to resist the payment of federal taxes that underwrite killing, war and militarism. This seminar will encourage a faithful witness to the nonviolent life and ministry of Jesus who calls us to love God, the neighbor and the enemy. Churchwide inspiration and support of those who conscientiously object to the payment of war taxes while underwriting opportunities for active peacemaking will attract others to embrace the life-affirming and creation-saving grace of God.

As NWTRCC’s Lincoln Rice explains:

The Mennonite Church U.S.A. had approved a War Tax Alternative Fund in for employees of the Mennonite Church who wanted to redirect their federal withholding. Though dormant, this fund and policy still exist. Details about adapting this fund to also accept deposits from any U.S. Mennonite who would like to participate will be discussed at MENNOCON19.

The proposal will have redirected taxes from Mennonite conscientious objectors held in a “Church Peace Tax Fund.” That fund would be invested in socially responsible investments of some sort. Portions of it could also be used for education about / promotion of the fund and of war tax redirection. If the government takes reprisals against any participating resisters, the fund can also be used to compensate them and/or support their families.

You can see the proposed “Memorandum of Understanding” that participants in the fund would be expected to sign here.

The resolution that established the original fund in is here. It includes a copy of the General Conference resolution that passed in which the church decided to commit to civil disobedience by refusing to withhold taxes from resisting employees:

Resolution on Faithful Action Toward Tax Withholding

General Conference Mennonite Church Triennial Sessions
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — 

As Mennonite Christians we seek to be biblically obedient, submitting to such injunctions as Romans 13:7, “Pay taxes to whom taxes are due,” but also Romans 13:8, 10, “Owe no one anything except to love one another… love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” We accept our subordination to government and our obligation to pay taxes. However, we must witness to governments our conviction that war and preparation for war do wrong to our neighbors and are contrary to the will of God as revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his death, resurrection, and ascension to lordship.

Thus we urge our governments to sharply reduce military spending and use our resources for life-affirming purposes. Furthermore, just as conscientious objectors have received exemption from military service, we also seek legislation exempting conscientious objectors from paying taxes for military purposes. Thus we continue to work in the United States for passage for the World Peace Tax Fund Act and in Canada for the Peace Tax Fund, which would allow individuals to designate all of their federal taxes for peaceful purposes.

Both the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and Revenue Canada require the General Conference Mennonite Church to violate the consciences of its employees who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for military purposes.

In the United States, we have thoroughly explored all legislative, administrative, and judicial avenues for obtaining a conscientious objector exemption to these withholding requirements, as we resolved at the Minneapolis midtriennium conference. Our explorations have convinced us there is no likelihood of relief in the near future for conscientious objectors to military taxes. The time has come when, like Peter and the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

In Canada, equally thorough explorations of similar avenues for seeking a conscientious objection from withholding requirements have not yet been accomplished. We commend the “Resolution on Security and Disarmament” of the Canadian Mennonite Conference in and the work of the Canadian Tax Task Force under the sponsorship of MCC Canada Peace and Social Concerns. We encourage Canadian congregations to continue study of materials made available on the issue of military taxes.

As delegates to the triennial sessions of the General Conference Mennonite Church, we therefore:

  1. Authorize the conference officers to test the constitutionality of the withholding requirements in the United States and to assert the higher claim of Christ’s law of love by refusing to serve a tax collectors in cases where individual employees have asked that their federal income taxes not be withheld from their wages in order that they may conscientiously refuse to pay for war preparations. These employees will be treated similarly to the way General Conference treats ordained ministers, i.e. as self-employed persons, in that their earnings will be reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, but no federal income tax withheld.
  2. We request that the Conference of Mennonites in Canada consider means to obtain relief from Revenue Canada withholding requirements as these apply to General Conference Mennonite Church employees.
  3. We shall inform the U.S. government of this act of conscientious objection to their withholding requirements. We shall again urge them to provide exemption from these requirements and exemption for people of peacemaking conscience from military use of their tax money.

At this moment of decision we commit ourselves to surround with our prayers the General Conference staff and government officials who will be involved in this action and all those individuals who refuse in conscience to pay taxes for war preparations, however costly their witness may be.