AKRON, Pa. – Peacemakers in the U.S. seeking to channel their income tax money away from expressions of war can support peacemakers in Israel – young adults whose consciences prohibit them from taking part in military activity.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. offers this giving option through its “Turning toward peace” program. It is designed for people in the U.S. who decide to witness for peace by redirecting their war tax dollars to efforts that nurture life and build justice.
People who redirect war taxes withhold a percentage of their income taxes when filing their tax returns, inform the Internal Revenue Service that they are doing so, and contribute that money to another cause. This is not a legal option, yet many who do so hope that someday Congress will provide a legal alternative to paying taxes for war.
This year, participants in “Turning toward peace” can apply their money to MCC partner New Profile. Based in Israel, New Profile provides educational materials and counseling to young people seeking to avoid military service, among them conscientious objectors, and supports those who go to prison because of their choice.
Funds also can be given toward MCC U.S.’ Summer Service program, which supports young adults of diverse backgrounds in the U.S. who participate in six to 10 weeks of summer leadership development.
Serving in their home communities through a church or other organizations, these young adults help lead all kinds of activities from a peace camp to an urban garden. They may be a pastoral assistant or help provide health or immigration services. See more information at mcc.org/summer-service.
Both programs support young people who are working for the good of others, not for their destruction.
Monica Silva, left, a participant in West Coast MCC’s Summer Service program, and her friends were “decorated” with red flour during a community event to show their opposition to illegal drug use and underage alcohol consumption. Pictured with her are Yammilette Rodrigez and Francisco Maldonado. Participants in MCC U.S.’ “Turning toward peace” program can give the portion of their taxes that would have supported the U.S. military to support young people of color such as Silva, who are strengthening their leadership skills through Summer Service. (Photo courtesy of Youth Leadership Institute)
Meanwhile, out of concern that taxes be used for peace instead of war, MCC U.S. submits a “letter of anguish” with each quarterly report of employee income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
The letter laments that the U.S. government uses the income taxes of MCC U.S. employees to pay for war despite Jesus’ call to love all people, not harm them.
The letter notes that MCC provides personnel and funds to help people around the world who have been wounded by war. “To our sorrow, we must acknowledge that many of these local wars have been fueled by military aid from our own government, as well as other countries,” the letter continues.
According to the War Resisters League, approximately 45 percent of the Fiscal Year 2016 federal budget is allotted for military-related purposes. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016. More information is available at warresisters.org/federalpiechart.
“The percentage of our taxes that is used for military purposes is so high,” said J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director. “We look forward to the day when we can report our employee income taxes with confidence that those taxes will be used to build up, not to destroy.”
To learn more about “Turning toward peace,” go to http://mcc.org/learn/more/war-taxes.