31 March 1990 David C. Keenan
116 Bowman Pde
Bardon QLD 4065
Ph: (07) 366 2660
Deputy Commissioner of Taxation
GPO Box 9825
Brisbane QLD 4001
Re: Tax File Number 484 547 746
I acknowledge receipt of my income tax assessment notice dated 24
January 1990 showing an amount payable of $6984.15.
Please find enclosed a cheque for $3984.15 payable to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation and a photocopy of a cheque for $3000.00 payable to The Peace and Development Foundation Inc.
I have always had a conscientious objection to paying tax for military purposes. However this is the first opportunity I have had to redirect my tax since I began paying tax in 1976. (It was previously outside my control due to P.A.Y.E deductions.) I have estimated my total tax assessments since 1976 to be about $30,000. (I would be pleased if you could tell me the exact figure). Every year, as you are no doubt aware, approximately 10% of the Australian government's budget is allocated for military purposes. It has also been argued that a much higher proportion is spent indirectly for military purposes. Therefore the cheque to the Peace & Development Foundation represents approximately that part of my total tax which would otherwise have been spent against the dictates of my conscience and deeply held beliefs. The aims of the Peace and Development Foundation include "To generate funds for the promotion of peace, development, ecological harmony, social justice and political participation by nonviolent means."
I take this action in particular to avoid complicity in Australia's support for the nuclear arms race through its uranium mining policies, acceptance of foreign military bases on Australian soil and encouragement of visits by nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed warships.
As well as being against the dictates of my conscience such payment would be contravening international law, in particular the Nuremburg principles.
On 10 March 1987 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights recognised that conscientious objection to military service is a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Australia voted in favour of this motion which was passed 26 to 2.
The government is aware of the position of people such as myself since Senator Norm Sanders presented a petition to the Senate on 25 March 1987, containing more than three thousand signatures calling on the Australian Government to introduce a Peace Tax Fund.
Senator Sanders said, "Parliament has long recognised the principle that conscientious objectors are not compelled to take part in military activities. It is no longer possible to distinguish combatant from non-combatant in modern warfare, but it is possible for the citizen to control the spending of his or her taxes by the state."
On 15 July 1989, Senator Jo Vallentine presented a Peace Trust Fund Bill to the Senate.
I wish to emphasise that I am willing to pay my tax assessment in full to the Australian Taxation Office when I am assured that my taxes will not be used for military purposes. In the meantime, I will continue to redirect 10% of my taxes to the Peace and Development Foundation or other such body whenever possible.
I wish to express my understanding and concern for your position and your duty to administer tax law. I am sorry if I make your life more difficult but this is inevitable by virtue of your office.
You may not agree with my beliefs that it is always wrong to kill another human being and therefore it is wrong to pay for the preparation for such killing, but I hope that you at least recognise my right (a) to hold such beliefs and (b) not to be forced to act contrary to those beliefs.
The Nuremburg trials established that your duties as an officer of the state do not absolve you from moral choices. You have a conscience, and if you believe in my rights as stated above then you may make a personal moral decision not to forcibly collect such tax. You could at the very least postpone collection indefinitely. This applies as much if you are a Tax Office clerk as it does if you are the Commissioner of Taxation.
I would be happy to discuss the above issues with any tax officer either officially or personally. I may be contacted on the above number.
I leave you with the following quote from "Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862.
"If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer or any other public officer, asks me as one has done, "But what shall I do?" My answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now."
David C. Keenan