The Plusses and Minuses to Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of the pluses and minuses of renouncing U.S. citizenship for tax or other reasons.

Current tax resisters take note: in order to renounce your citizenship…

You will have to certify that you have been tax-compliant for the last five years. The upshot: Expatriation is a bad strategy for coping with past noncompliance.

From the Catholic Herald for

Quakers: no tax for war

So strong are the Quakers objections to any part of their taxes being used for military purposes, they are bringing the matter up as a major subject at their Yearly Meeting plenary session on .

The Quakers are committed to “upholding their historic peace testimony”, and a “Peace Committee of Quaker Peace and Service” has been set up to examine the issue. In the last few years growing numbers of individual Quakers have been appearing in county and higher courts for seeking to divert the proportion of their tax to nonmilitary purposes.

Eleanor Barden (a member of the Peace Committee) in “The Friend”, on May 8, identifies the issues. “Is war tax resistance the modern equivalent of conscientious objection in World Wars One and Two?” she asks, because the nature of warfare has changed so drastically in the last few decades.

At Friend’s House, a group of staff were instrumental in arranging for the Society of Friends, their employers, to withhold a proportion of their PAYE in order to test the law. The case was dismissed by the House of Lords.

Here is what the London Yearly Meeting came up with in with regards to war tax resistance:

We are trustees of a long tradition which has sought to bring our religious convictions into the world “and so excite our endeavours to mend it”. We are trying to live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.

Fundamentally, taxation for war purposes is not a political or a fiscal issue. We are convinced by the Spirit of God to say without any hesitation whatsoever that we must support the right of conscientious objection to paying taxes for war purposes. We realise that we live in a world where it is impossible to see clearly the final consequences of the actions we might initiate from this Meeting. Nevertheless we are impelled by our vision of a peaceful and loving society.

We ask Meeting for Sufferings to explore further and with urgency the role our religious society should corporately take in this concern and then to take such action as it sees necessary on our behalf. We know that this is only one further step in our witness to the Truth, to which we are continually summoned. We go forward in God’s strength.

Here is some of the background: the Meeting had started not withholding taxes from the paychecks of employees who had conscientious objections to paying. The London Yearly Meeting was taken to court over this, and lost an appeal in 1985, whereupon it resumed withholding the taxes (while pursuing the case in the European Commission of Human Rights, which also turned them down).

So the language “we must support the right of conscientious objection to paying taxes for war purposes” by this time meant more of a statement of opinion than a statement of intention. The Meeting itself by this time was not resisting but was paying such taxes, while promoting the point of view that people ought to have the “right” not to.

Here is how the Meeting explained its position in 1991:

The Religious Society of Friends has, since its beginnings in the seventeenth century, borne witness against war and armed conflict as contrary to the spirit and teachings of Christ. We have sought to build institutions and relationships which make for peace and to resist military activity. The horrific nature of modern armaments makes our witness particularly urgent. The Gulf War involved the substantial use of expensive modern weapons and technology, demonstrating that today it is the conscription of our money rather than our bodies which makes war possible.

For many years members of the Religious Society of Friends have been exercised about how we might be true to our historic peace testimony while still obeying the laws of our country. You will know that we have appealed through the courts and ultimately to the European Commission of Human Rights for recognition of the right of conscientious objection to paying taxes for military purposes…

Since losing the appeal we have paid in full the income tax collected from our employees. In recent months we have considered whether we can continue to do this, but after very careful consideration have decided that for the time being we must do so. The acceptance of the rule of law is part of our witness, … for a just and peaceful world cannot come about without this. However we do wish to make it clear that we object to the way in which the PAYE [withholding] system involves us in a process of collecting money, used in part to pay for military activity and war preparations, which takes away from the individual taxpayer the right to express their own conscientious objection. This involvement is incompatible with our work for peace.