Peace Tax Bills in Seven Countries

by Erik Th. Hummels, 1997

8. Comparison

The comparison will be restricted to a number of important aspects, namely:

  1. Who can apply for the provision for conscientious objections?
  2. The examination of the seriousness of the conscientious objections.
  3. The Peace Fund.
  4. The control of the Peace Fund.
  5. Which taxes are involved?
  6. The amount of the payment which has to be transferred to the Peace Fund.
  7. Consequences for the Defence budget and the budgets of the other Departments.

Ad 1 Who can apply for the provision for conscientious objections?

In the American bill: the individual who on grounds of religion or belief has conscientious objections against participation in war, in any form. According to case law moral and ethical conviction is included.

Contrary to the Dutch bills the American bill is restricted, has no provision for conscientious objection against nuclear warfare for example.

According to the Belgian bill of 1986 each income tax payer could apply for the provision, in the bill of 1995 only on condition that he states that he has conscientious objections to the military destination of his tax money. According to the last mentioned bill there is no provision for instance for nuclear war tax objectors.

This is also the system in the German bills, and the Australian bill.

In the Italian bill each income taxpayer can apply for the provision.

Ad 2 The examination of the seriousness of the conscientious objections.

In the Dutch bill originally an examination was not regulated, in the modified bill a verification procedure has been incorporated, as is the case in the American bill.

The Belgian, British, German, Australian and Italian bills do not have an examination procedure.

Ad 3 The Peace Fund.

All the bills except the later German bill and the Italian bill have regulated the establishment of a Peace Fund.

The later German bill has incorporated in the bill a Military Fund and its alternative destination the Fund for Conversion of Armaments.

In the Italian bill a new Department has to be established, a Department for Unarmed Civil Defence.

Ad 4 The control of the Peace Fund.

The Peace Funds are in the American, Australian and the Belgian bills under the control of the Minister of Finance and the boards.

In the Dutch bill the Minister of Defence is responsible.

In the German bill d.d. 1986 a special committee of the parliament has the control over the Peace Fund.

In the later German bill d.d. 1990 the Military Fund is under the rule of the Minister of Defence and the Conversion Fund is under the rule of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

In the Italian bill the Department for Unarmed Civil Defence will be under the rule of the Prime Minister.

In the British bill members of the Board of Trustees are nominated by the Prime Minister.

Ad 5 Which taxes are involved?

It needs consideration that mostly salary taxes are included in the income tax.

In the Dutch bill of 1989 the income tax, the salary tax and the property tax. In the modified bill d.d. 1992 also the succession tax.

In the American bill the provision is related to the income tax, the estate tax and the gift tax.

In the Belgian, Australian and Italian bills: the income tax.

In the German bill the income and salary tax.

In the British bill: all direct taxes.

Ad 6 The amount of the payment which has to be transferred to the Peace Fund.

In the Belgian bill d.d. 1986 this amount was a fixed percentage of five percent. In the bill of 1995 the amount is a percentage of the tax assessment equivalent to the fraction in which the military defence expenditure is the numerator and the total tax revenue of the State the denominator.

In the Dutch bill the numerator is the budget of the Department of Defence and the denominator the total budget of the State.

In the Italian bill the numerator is the budget for military and arms-related expenditure and the denominator the total budget.

Regarding to the American bill and the German bill d.d. 1986 the numerator is the actual appropriations made for a military purpose and the denominator will be the total of the appropriations.

In the Australian bill the amount concerned is a fixed percentage of ten percent.

In the British bill the amount is an average payment which is the amount obtained by dividing the Defence budget by the total number of registered voters.

In the later German bill there was no percentage necessary, because the military fund is fed by a purpose levy.

Ad 7 Consequences for the military budget and the budgets of other departments.

In the Dutch bill the introducers have tried to respect the budget right of the parliament. This implies that the payment to the Peace Fund does not lead to an equivalent reduction of the Defence budget. The possibility exists that the budgets of other departments are cut in connection to the activities of the fund.

In the American bill it is explicitly formulated that the Peace Fund shall not release funds for military expenditure which, were it not for the existence of the fund, would otherwise have been appropriated for nonmilitary expenditures.

The Belgian and Australian bills and the German bill of 1986 do not have special regulations about this subject.

In the British bill is incorporated the regulation that the means of the Peace Fund may not be used as a substitution for Her Majesty's government expenditure on anything eligible for peace fund expenditure.

In the Italian bill a civil nonarmed defence system is proposed. Substitution effects is not expected, prima facie.

In the later German bill the tax money that has to be transferred to the Conversion Fund will not flow into the Military Fund. This means that this bill is the only one which results in a direct reduction of the military expenditure. This means a tax increase is necessary when the Government wants to spend the same amount of military expenditure as has been laid down by budget law.


Copyright and responsibility Erik Th. Hummels 1997

Berkenlaan 14, 3707 BC Zeist, The Netherlands

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telefax +31.30.2541786 internet: ehummels@xs4all.nl

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