People’s Life Fund

War Tax Redirection

A Positive Alternative to Federal War Taxes

What message do we send with our taxes?

Today, even more than soldiers, the Pentagon requires tremendous amounts of money to build both nuclear and conventional weapons systems. The U.S. government continues to collect tax dollars from its citizens to finance high-technology preparation for war. As people realize this, and we make the connection between our tax money and the violence and oppression brought on by military spending, war tax resistance grows.

During the Vietnam war, the number of people who resisted paying federal taxes increased dramatically. At that time, about 60% of our income taxes went for military-related purposes, and the federal excise tax on our phone bill was increased to help pay for that war. Today, roughly 50% of our federal tax dollars are still being used to pay for the activities and debts of the military machine. Many people in communities across the United States are taking steps to resist the payment of the federal income and/or telephone tax. There are a number of forms that tax resistance can take; more information about this form of civil disobedience can be obtained from the War Resisters League: http://www.warresisters.org/node/321

Alternative Funds

Over 50 alternative funds have been established in the U.S. to serve as repositories for money which is not paid in taxes to the federal government. A portion of the money in each fund is then given away by its members for a broad range of positive, life-affirming purposes.

By creating alternative funds, we move a step beyond resistance. Through our actions, we determine the priorities for the use of our tax dollars. And by this determination, we not only empower ourselves, but we also provide critical funds for human services that the government is not adequately supplying.

The People’s Life Fund

In 1971, war tax resisters in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the People’s Life Fund (PLF). Each April 15, the PLF makes grants to community organizations working for peace and justice. To provide for a wide range of needs, the PLF is divided into three categories:

  1. Earmarked: People earmark their contribution for a group of their choice, and make a check out to that group. The PLF forwards the check with an accompanying letter stating that the contribution is from war tax resistance money. None of the money in category A actually stays with the PLF, but channeling it through the Fund enables the tax resister/donor to make a political statement along with a contribution.
  2. Strings Attached: People who resist paying their taxes realize that the Internal Revenue Service has a collection procedure and that the IRS may claim the owed amount through levies on salaries or bank accounts, or, rarely, by seizure of property. Faced with this possibility, the PLF allows tax resisters to “deposit” owed taxes in category B. This money is returned upon request after collection by the IRS, or if collection is imminent, or to pay legal fees. In the meantime, the interest from these deposits is placed in category C.
  3. Give Away: This is a granting fund consisting of outright contributions of resisted taxes or other money, and interest from all PLF deposits. PLF members meet annually to give away the money in category C. An amount not to exceed 25% of category C is granted at these meetings to support the work of war tax resistance, both locally and nationally.

The People’s Life Fund strives to deposit contributions in alternative financial institutions, such as credit unions and socially responsible funds, whose goals are compatible with those of the members of the funds.

People’s Life Fund Grants

Grants are made to groups whose work falls within one of the priority areas described below. Preference is given to groups that provide services in the Northern California region.

First Priority: Provision of essential, day-to-day human services (food, health, child care, housing, etc.) combined with educational work aimed at pointing out and changing the root causes of whatever problems the group is addressing.

Second Priority: Provision of essential, day-to-day human services without an explicit, conscious attempt to provide an analysis or eradicate the problem.

Third Priority: Education or action, in a spirit of non-violence, aimed at social, economic, or political change.

In addition to the above priorities, the People’s Life Fund favors small organizations with annual budgets of less than $200,000. Preference will be given to groups that challenge privilege and injustice and are led by the same constituencies that are being served. The PLF does not fund the same organization two years in a row, and gives preference to groups that have not recently received funding.

Applications will be accepted between February 10–March 22, 2014, with final decisions made by late March. Groups receiving a PLF grant are required to receive the check, in person, at our granting ceremony, and to list the PLF among their funders as: War Taxes Redirected by People’s Life Fund.

2014 People’s Life Fund grants will be given out at the PLF Granting Ceremony which will be on the Sunday before Tax Day, April 13th, at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita Ave. Berkeley, California The program will be from 5:30–7:30 p.m., and we encourage folks to bring a potluck dish to share. Everyone is welcome. Please feel free to spread the word!

Please use this application if you wish to apply. Please email your application by 5 p.m., March 22nd, 2014, to: nowartax@riseup.net. We strongly encourage you to submit your application by email, but will also accept paper copies if submitting electronically is absolutely impossible, and if received by the deadline.

Applications are screened and grants are made by any members of the PLF who choose to attend meetings in February and March of each year. Any person who, in the past two years, has made a contribution to category C or has had a positive balance in category B is considered a member of the PLF. In addition, one may become a member of the Fund by volunteering time or resources to the work of the Fund. Granting decisions are made by consensus of the members involved. An informal evaluation on the use of PLF grants by recipient organizations is made after an appropriate time by the recipient and the PLF.

Loans are made on a limited basis from the People’s Life Fund to organizations whose overall purpose is to provide human services or aid to low-income persons, to promote nonviolent action or education, and/or to promote alternative economic projects and relationships.

Your Support

If we all placed the money we didn’t give to the military in locally administered funds like the PLF, we could help create models for a future in which people would regain control of their common institutions and effectively end their complicity in government programs they believe to be detrimental to the Earth and living things. We invite you to join us in this work.

People’s Life Fund
P.O. Box 2422
Berkeley, CA 94702-0422
(510) 842-6124