Eleventh International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Woltersdorf near Berlin, Germany 2006

Country Report USA - NCPTF

National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund

[pdf version]

2121 Decatur Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008

Tel: 202-483-3751; Fax: 202-986-0667

e-mail:alan@peacetaxfund.org; www.peacetaxfund.org

Peace Tax Foundation

Same address

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) was founded in 1971 to address the basic issue of conscientious objection to war as it relates to the payment of taxes. NCPTF is organized solely to promote legislation to allow citizens who are conscientious objectors to pay their full tax liability without violating fundamental moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. As a lobbying organization, contributions to NCPTF are not tax deductible.

A sister organization, The Peace Tax Foundation is dedicated to education and research. It educates the public about principles underlying the current bill, and alternative tax payment programs that are based on moral, religious and ethical opposition to participation in war. It may also engage in activities such as research, publications dissemination, workshops, conferences, and reporting the legislative efforts underway to pass the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. Contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible (a 501c3 organization).

Staff

The staff is made up of three full time persons, with occasional overlaps in order to aid transition. From 1982 to December 2005 Marian Franz was Executive Director and chief lobbyist. Alan Gamble began that role in June. Tim Godshall was Director of Outreach and Development in 2004-2005, and served as interim Executive Director for the first half of this year. Daniel Longwing is Administrative Assistant / Network Administrator. Chris Fretz (leaving December 31) is Outreach/Development Coordinator, and will be training Joel Lehman to continue that role.

After 23 years of dedicated work as our Executive Director, on December 31, 2005 Marian Franz stepped down.  She has provided outstanding leadership for all aspects of both organizations. Also, during that time, she has participated very actively (since the First International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns, held in Tübingen, West Germany), in working with others to encourage the COMT movement in other nations, and to gain recognition of the right of COMT in the United Nations, and other international bodies.

Between January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2006, Marian's work was effectively continued by Timothy Godshall as Interim Executive Director. (Tim attended the 2002? and 2004 International Conferences)

Following a careful search by the NCPTF Board, on July 1, 2006 Tim was followed by Alan Gamble, as our new Executive Director.  Alan's earlier work has involved teaching music and biology.

Boards of Directors

The Campaign's Board of Directors meets twice a year. It has ten elected board members and seven others appointed by other religious bodies and organizations. Current religious and peace organizations represented are: Roman Catholic, Quakers, Mennonites, Jewish Peace Fellowship, Muslim, Presbyterian Church (USA), Church of the Brethren, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, and the United Methodist Church. Board members serve on committees for finance, nominations, development and long range planning, personnel, and field work/media/outreach. The Peace Tax Foundation has an additional board member.

Legislative History of The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill

The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (formerly named the World Peace Tax Fund Bill and the US Peace Tax Fund Bill) was first introduced in the US House of Representatives in 1972 and in the US Senate in 1975. The Bill has been introduced in the House every Congress since. We currently have no bill in the Senate because only members of the Democratic Party wish to sponsor it. We seek a unified balance of Republicans, Democrats and Independents in support of this bill. Significant changes may occur in key committees if in November Democrats regain a majority in the House or Senate. The Bill has undergone several changes. It no longer specifies where the CO's money would go, but states simply that tax payments from conscientious objectors could be spent for any other purpose for which the government appropriates money, but could not be spent for any military purpose.

Lobbying

Through December 2005 Marian Franz lobbied members of Congress and their staffs. She was sometimes accompanied by leaders from other religious organizations who officially support the Peace Tax proposal. Alan Gamble now is beginning this role, although we are actively seeking and training “ordinary” citizens to do this work as well. See below for recent activity.

A Legislative Advisory Group is available for consultation with the lobbyist and occasionally assists with lobby visits. The Legislative Advisory Group is comprised of representatives from the Church of the Brethren, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church and Mennonite Central Committee. These organizations have officially endorsed the effort.

During the administration of President Clinton we had several visits in the White House and the Department of the Treasury.

Grassroots

Politically, the United States is divided into 435 congressional districts, each of which elect a representative to the House of Representatives. In addition there are 100 Senators, two each from the 50 states. 

Activists in the political districts volunteer to be congressional district organizers (CDOs). At present we have 30 CDOs who have committed to do a major amount of work to promote the RFPTF Bill in their districts. We also have congregational liaisons in some churches, and are proposing an intermediary community organizers level.

These team leaders and other activists make progress by printing information in other organizations' newsletters, writing letters to Congress and organizing others to do so. They ask their congregation or social justice group to “endorse” the Campaign, thereby activating the awareness of others. Other initiatives include putting posters up on college campuses, leading introductory evenings, writing to local newspapers, and taking up collections to buy ad space in newspapers.

Support

Initially, support came mainly from the Historic Peace Churches (Mennonites, Quakers, Church of the Brethren). In the 1980s, large bodies such as the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church took official actions of support. More recently we have received support for organizations which are not pacifist, but are concerned that, without such a bill, there is a violation of freedom of conscience and belief. As a result of a grant-funded special project, the Rhode Island Campaign for Conscience (RICC), the first ever resolution urging Congress to pass the Peace Tax Fund bill passed unanimously in Providence, Rhode Island. This surprising resolution can become a pattern for other cities. The RICC also organized the first ever hearing at the state level. Our work is formally endorsed by about 60 national organizations.

There are 4,000 on our mailing list. Of these, 1,300 are national and local religious and peace groups. The remainder are individuals. We produce a newsletter, “Peace Tax Fund Update”, three times a year.

Relationship with War Tax Resistance

NCPTF and PTF do not themselves work in the area of, or advocate for war tax resistance. This work is coordinated by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), an entirely separate organization with an office in Brooklyn, New York. Persons requesting information from NCPTF/PTF about war tax resistance are referred to NWTRCC www.nwtrcc.org 718-768-3420

Finances

The budget for the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund for 2006 is $95,000 for the Campaign and $83,000 for the Foundation.  Voluntary contributions from some 2,000 individuals and from organizations who support our activities. Basic support is from corporate religious bodies. We occasionally receive grants for the foundation to do specific work (RICC, publish book or video).

At the upcoming 5-6 November 2006 Board gathering, major attention will be given to the recent decline in contributions we have been experiencing, which reminds the Board and supporters in all nations of the need to seek and to obtain adequate financing to maintain the vitality of the legislative efforts to gain recognition of the right of COMT -- in the US Congress, and in other national Parliaments and representative bodies.

Relationship with CPTI

NCPTF also manages a modest portion of CPTI funds (currently US $3587), in a US account, to be used only for expenses directly related to CPTI activities originating in the US. (At some $ level, is approval required from the CPTI Treasurer, or Board?) Operating costs may at times include the hiring of a person for ad-hoc CPTI work, on a part-time basis.

Recent efforts

A. In support of COMT generally

  1. On April 7, 2006, New York Quakers released a statement proclaiming that military taxation violates their religious beliefs and will seek ways to redress this, individually and corporately. It is one of the most wide-reaching and definitive statements about military taxation opposition from any religious group in the country.
  2. 3 persons were imprisoned for refusing to pay taxes which they knew would be used to do violence; NWTRCC and PTF have publicized their cases and offered support.
  3. PTF is also publicizing the case of board member Dan Jenkins as his case based on the 9th amendment works its way through the legal process.

B. NCPTF lobbying efforts

  1. We currently have 46 sponsors of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund (RFPTF) Bill – H.R. 2631 -- in the House of Representatives, the most support for this bill since 1990. 1986 was the record year, with 55 House sponsors and 4 Senate sponsors.
  2. We continue to seek introduction of the proposal in the Senate. We have support indicated from some Democratic senators; we are working to find 2-3 Republican senators to join their Democratic colleague(s). Note that the RFPTF Bill needs to be re-introduced in Congress every two years, if it has not yet passed.)
  3. A Congressional lobbying day was held in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2005, and again on May 16, 2006, joining with other conscientious objectors to military violence, to speak out against forced conscription in the military – whether it is our bodies or our tax dollars that are used to kill.

C. Regional efforts in support of RFPTF bill

  1. Rhode Island Campaign for Conscience

D. PTF efforts (education/research)

  1. Support for Rhode Island Campaign for Conscience
  2. Support for the New York City Council

Ongoing communications/activities.

The next NCPTF/PTF Board meeting will be held on November 5-6, 2006. Alan Gamble will bring a report from the 11th International Conference, which he is planning to attend. Board members John Randall and Dan Jenkins will also participate in the Conference.

Outreach through publications, the NCPTF website, etc.

  1. Publication of “Conscience and the Courts; Selected Supreme Court and other cases which define conscientious objection to participation in war”, by Marian Franz; 2006. Published by Peace Tax Foundation, and available from the PTF Office (see address above and additional resources below)
  2. The NCPTF website is kept up-to-date by Daniel Longwing, and is accessible at www.peacetaxfund.org

Publications and other resources produced by our organizations are: 

Publications produced by other organizations which we sell are:

Report by Alan Gamble and David Bassett, October 2006 (based largely on Marian Franz' July 2004 report)