Here are ways to think about making your witness of conscientious objection to war by addressing the conscription of war taxes.  Action steps toward war tax refusal
(Note to reader:  Additional resources on risk-taking, how to write a war tax letter, etc. are in the “articles” section of this site.)

Organizing Local Chapters  –  
1040 for Peace Campaign
The success of this campaign is dependent on establishing a multitude of local chapters throughout the United States.  Since our motivation is faith based, the logical place to begin a local chapter is in our home church.  This chapter should then spawn other chapters in neighboring churches of the same denomination and move on to churches of all denominations in the area. The leader of the local chapter and/or members of the chapter will know persons outside the area who are also concerned about the vast amounts of money being spent by the military to kill the “enemy”.  By contacting these persons the number of local chapters might grow exponentially.
How to organize a local group.
  • A person who has become familiar with the 1040 for Peace campaign and is committed to underpaying his or her taxes by $10.40 should accept the call to organize a local chapter.  They could begin immediately by e-mailing all their friends encouraging them to view our web site –1040forpeace.org.  This will generate questions that they can discuss with each other.  Early in January the organizer should call a meeting of persons within the congregation who are concerned about paying for war while praying for peace to discuss the issue and consider various action options.  The leader may contact John Stoner jstoner42@windstream.net  for any helpful materials not included on the web page. Persons in the group should be encouraged to invite their friends both within and outside the local church to the next meeting to be held in early February.
  • It would be great if this leader would call a second meeting in January inviting friends, colleagues, golf buddies, community leaders especially women etc. that are not members of his or her church to introduce the 1040 for Peace campaign.   Hopefully persons from this group could be encouraged to begin a chapter in their congregation.  A light snack goes a long way in putting the group at ease and getting discussion started.
  • At the February meeting new attendees should be brought up to speed with all that transpired in the January meeting.  The leader should then explain the consequences that underpaying your tax obligation by $10.40 will have on the individual.  The leader should seek commitments from person that may now be willing to take their first minor step in civil disobedience. The most urgent and important action of this campaign is communicating your reasons for underpaying your tax obligation to the PRESIDENT, your SENATORS and REPRESENTATIVE, FAMILY, FRIENDS , CHURCH , and NEWSPAPERS.  This communication is more important than withholding $10.40.   The only reason to underpay $10.40 is to get the attention of the government policy makers. The local chapter leader may present sample letters or copies of letters that others have used.    There should be ample time for discussion and questions.
  • A meeting could be called in March to answer persons’ questions and concerns.  Persons attending might help each other compose letters they will send to government policy makers AND OTHERS.  Hopefully by now more persons will be prepared to join the movement by underpaying their tax obligation by $10.40.
  • The leader should be available to answer questions persons may have as they actually complete their tax forms and write letters to their elected officials and others informing them why they have taken this action to underpay their tax obligation.
  • Person taking this action may want to meet from time to time as a support group.  Each person should also be encouraged to contact others to join the 1040 for Peace campaign.
Penny Poll Results
    (The Penny Poll gives people 10 pennies and asks them to distribute them according to the federal budget priorities which they would like to support.  See below, “How to Conduct a Penny Poll.”)
January 4, 2011
Venue: Lancaster Church of the Brethren
60 participants
Penny Poll Votes
Education                                     21.5%
Environment/Green Energy         20.8%
Health                                           15.0%
Housing                                        14.5%
Diplomacy                                    12.0%
Mass Transit/Roads                        9.0%
Veterans                                          3.0%
Military                                           2.0%
Other                                               1.6%
Homeland Security                           .3%
It is very difficult to compare these Penny Poll votes with the actual federal funds budget[1] since the budget is not organized according to the Penny Poll categories. In addition some areas such as Education receive far more funding through local taxes than through the federal budget.
Nonetheless, there are some interesting comparisons.
While the Penny Poll placed military spending at 2%, most budget analysts estimate military spending to be 40%-50% of the federal funds budget.[2]
Another large discrepancy between Penny Poll voters and the federal budget is in the area of the environment and green energy.  Penny Poll voters want 20.8% of the budget spent in this sector. The actual amount, according to the Friends Committee on National Legislation is 3% (Energy, Science and Environment).[3]
Penny Poll participants want the federal government to spend 12% of its budget on diplomacy. The actual figure, according to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, is 2%[4]
[1] The federal funds budget is made up of discretionary spending that Congress appropriates each year. It does not include dedicated funds such as Social Security and Medicare.
[2] Estimates on military spending vary, depending on the amount calculated to stem from interest on the national debt attributable to military spending.
[3] http://www.fcnl.org/budget/, How is the Federal Government Spending Our Income Tax Dollars in 2010?, Friends Committee on National Legislation.
[4] Ibid.

How to Conduct a Penny Poll
Conduct your own Penny Poll before April 15!
A penny poll is an interactive tool for good conversation and learning about U.S. budget priorities and your own values. It can engage a wide range of participants from the upper elementary grades through adult. It can be set up in any public space where there is room for a table or two midst the flow of people.
To set up a penny poll, you will need ten containers, a good supply of pennies and some signs, along with pick-up literature about the federal budget and taxes for war (see resource list below).
Each container (large yogurt containers work well) should have a sign that identifies it as a federal budget category. If you wish to participate in theLancaster County Penny Poll (see below) please use the 10 categories listed below. A category of “other” allows people to vote for a budget category that you have not included. You can ask participants to tell you what their penny in the “other” container stands for, and keep a running list.
Health/Human Services                    Transportation (Highways/Rail/Mass Transit)
Education                                Diplomacy
Environmental Protection/Conservation    Housing/Urban Development
Homeland Security                        Veterans
Military/Defense                         Other
Note that these categories only include the Federal Funds Budget, the discretionary spending on which Congress votes each year.  It does not include entitlements such as social security.
How it works
The 10 containers, each bearing a sign of the budget category it represents are set up on a table. Each participant is given 10 pennies to divide among the 10 containers in a way that represents how they would like to see the federal budget spent. Participants should take a little time to look at the options and think about their choices. They may distribute their 10 pennies however they wish among the 10 budget categories.
After each participant has distributed their 10 pennies, give them a copy of the pie chart which shows how the federal budget is actually spent, from one of the following sources:
The War Resister’s League chart is especially prepared to raise the issue of taxes for war.
The National Priorities Project site listed above allows you to type in the actual $ amount of taxes paid. It uses this figure to create a pie chart indicating how many of your tax dollars go to each budget category.
If you conduct your poll in a house of worship or with another identifiable group, tabulate the results and report them the next time you meet. This will help keep the conversation going.
Framing the Question
Your location for the penny poll will influence any additional literature you provide or the questions you would like to leave with individuals for further reflection.
If you decide to conduct the penny poll in a Christian house of worship, you might want to create a sheet with reflection questions and further resources for study. Below is a starter list:
  1. What differences do you notice between how you distributed your pennies and the % of the federal budget that actually goes toward these categories?
  2. When Jesus told his disciples to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, how do you think they understood these words (Mark 12:17)?
  3. What limits might Jesus’ statement place on our obligations to Caesar?
  4. If your tax dollars are spent in ways that violate your conscience, do you resolve the tension in favor of the law or your conscience?  Why?
The Lancaster County Penny Poll 
We suggest that you conduct a Penny Poll at your place of worship, school or other public space between January 1 and April 15, 2011. Send your results to Titus Peachey: tmp@mcc.org    Indicate the number of participants and the % of “votes” for each budget category. We will post the results on the 1040 for Peace website, send them to our legislators and seek other ways to give these results publicity.
Titus Peachey
tmp@mcc.org –   717 859-1151

Additional Resources
1.      http://1040forpeace.org/  This website invites you to consider expressing your commitment to peace on tax day by withholding $10.40 from your federal taxes.
2.      http://co.mcc.org/us/co/wartaxes/  This Mennonite Central Committee site includes biblical studies, stories of war tax resisters, responses to practical questions about war tax resistance, as well as statements and reflections.
3.      http://peace.mennolink.org/wartaxes.html  This Mennonite Church USA site includes statements, worship materials and reflection related to war taxes.
4.      http://nwtrcc.org/   This National War Tax Resister’s site offers personal stories of war tax resisters and a series of short pamphlets on the many questions faced by war tax resisters.
5.      http://www.peacetaxfund.org/    This National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund promotes legislation that would allow conscientious objectors to war taxes to direct their tax dollars toward peaceful purposes.
6.      http://www.warresisters.org/wartaxresistance   The War Resister’s League website includes a budget pie chart and links to their 144 page guide to war tax resistance.
7.      http://www.nationalpriorities.org/taxchart2009  Allows you to enter your actual tax payment and learn how it is spent by the federal government.
The site includes a biblical study on war taxes by Willard Swartley, former professor at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries.
9. See a courageous witness at the White House, to strengthen your own resolve!