On Seeking Means to Support Employees Who Wish to Engage in War Tax Resistance—From the Presbytery of de Christo.

Whereas, War tax resistance is recognized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a witness to peacemaking, as evidenced on pages 12 and 13 of the document “Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age” from the 200th General Assembly (1988); and

Whereas, The current policy of the PC (USA) is to automatically withhold taxes from the salaries of its employees; and

Whereas, The result is that it is impossible for employees of the PC (USA) to express their opposition to war and military spending as a matter of faith by engaging in tax resistance; and

Whereas, There is currently no means by which a United States citizen can designate their tax toward peaceful ends; and

Whereas, An employee of the Global Mission Ministry Unit now working within the bounds of the Presbytery of de Christo wishes to withhold his taxes from the United States Government as an expression of his commitment to peace and nonviolence that grows out of his faith; and

Whereas, Others, for reasons of faith, conscience, and social witness, may wish to withhold all or part of their tax to express their opposition to war or a military option as a path to peacemaking and resolving conflict; and

Whereas, The Internal Revenue Service of the United States currently holds that it is illegal for an employer to support such persons of conscience either by refusing to withhold their taxes or by calling such employees “contract labor” and allowing them to file their own income taxes; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Presbytery of de Christo overture the 203rd General Assembly (1991) to . . .

2. Actively support the congressional bills calling for the creation of the United States Peace Tax fund, which would allow U.S. citizens to share the burden of government without paying for war; and

3. Seek to change the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service that make it illegal for an employer to stop withholding an employee’s tax, recognizing that such withholding makes the PC (USA) an agent of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Government.

(Overture 91-57, 203rd General Assembly, 1991)

The 200th General Assembly (1988) recognized an additional method of conscience of objection: the refusal to pay that portion of one’s income tax which funds military spending. The 203rd General Assembly (1991) revisited this issue by confronting the personnel practices of the church. The church, as an employer, incorporated under the laws of the various states, withholds taxes for some of its employees. At least one employee wished, in 1990, to express his commitment to peacemaking by refusing to pay that portion of his required tax which supported military expenditures, and, instead, pay an equal amount into a United States Peace Tax Fund. The Assembly heard his plea of conscience, sought relief from the church’s required role as collector of “war taxes,” and encouraged alternative, peaceful ways to support governments.

(From Presbyterian Social Witness Policy Compilation)

In response to the knowledge that some United Presbyterians will be led by conscience to make their witness against the war in ways such as fasting, symbolic witness in public places, refusal to cooperate with the Selective Service System, refusal to pay certain federal taxes voluntarily and that some such acts may entail civil disobedience.

We therefore:

1. Urge the prayerful support of the whole church for persons who engage in such individual acts of conscience.

2. Authorize the Office of the General Assembly and encourage synods, presbyteries, and sessions to develop appropriate legal and ecclesiastical support for those persons who engage in such acts, provided that these acts are nonviolent and are taken with readiness to accept the legal consequences of conscientious refusal to obey laws considered unjust.

(1972 Statement, UPCUSA)

For further information, contact: Office of the Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202; www.pcusa.org