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Turning Toward Peace program redirects war taxes

3.27. 2015 Written By: Ed Nyce of MCC

Young people who have chosen to resist inscription into the Israeli army get support through counselors from MCC’s partner, New Profile. No one is named for their protection. (Photo courtesy of New Profile)

Peacemakers in the United States seeking to channel their income-tax money away from 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 United States 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.’s Summer Service program, which supports young adults of diverse backgrounds in the United States 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.

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 says MCC provides personnel and funds to help people around the world 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. See warresisters.org/federalpiechart.

“The percentage of our taxes that is used for military purposes is so high,” says 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.

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