War tax protest in N.Y.

NEW YORK — “I’m tired of paying taxes for sending young people off to war. I’m tired of watching young people dying,” said Karen of Sayville, Long Island. Karen was part of a crowd of more than a hundred people on the steps of City Hall here attending a press conference of the New York City Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund June 9.

The Peace Tax Fund Act is a City Council resolution introduced by Councilman Bill Perkins (D-Harlem) in 2004. It calls upon Congress to enact and the president to sign HR 2631, the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act. HR 2631 would allow conscientious objectors, those who are opposed to participation in war because of their religious, moral or ethical principles, to have their federal taxes placed in a “Peace Tax Fund” to be used for non-military purposes only.

Perkins explained, “Besides giving citizens the right to meet their tax obligations without violating their conscience, the Peace Tax Act, by requiring an annual report to Congress on the amount of taxes transferred to the fund, will keep track of the depth of Americans’ opposition to war and to the militarization which devours resources that could be used to meet human needs.” Nine other council members co-sponsored the resolution.

Currently, the U.S. discretionary spending for the military exceeds that of all other nations combined. Marian Franz, executive director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund in Washington, noted that the Peace Tax Fund Act would “enable citizens to fulfill the obligations of citizenship as well as the demands of conscience.”

HR 2631 has approximately 38 sponsors in Congress.

Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice urged supporters to “put everything we’ve got into this campaign” If we do, she said, “we can get this bill passed.”