People’s Life Fund – A Bay Area Alternative Fund for Resisted War Taxes

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.

The People’s Life Fund always 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 PLF.

Contributing to the PLF

To provide for a wide range of needs, the People’s Life Fund (PLF) welcomes contributions in three categories:

  1. Category A – 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 showing that their contribution is part of an organized effort.
  2. Category B – 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” resisted taxes in Category B. This money is returned to the contributor 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. Category C – Give Away: This is a granting fund consisting of outright contributions of resisted taxes or other money, as well as interest from all PLF deposits. PLF members meet annually to give away the money in category C. An amount not to exceed 15% of category C is granted at these meetings to support the work of war tax resistance, both locally and nationally.

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 our common institutions and effectively end our complicity in government programs we believe to be detrimental to the Earth and living things. We invite you to join us in this work.

Applying for a People’s Life Fund Grant

Every year, around Tax Day, PLF members put out a call for proposals and select local projects that are doing the work we wish our taxes were supporting. 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.

The PLF’s granting priorities are (in order of priority):

            1.  (Highest Priority) Provision of essential day-to day human services which the government is not adequately furnishing, together with educational or other work that identifies and seeks to change the root causes of the problem.

            2.  (Second Priority) Provision of essential day-to day human services, but not necessarily providing an explicit analysis of the problem.

            3.  (Third Priority) Education or action, in the spirit of nonviolence, aimed at social, economic or political change.

In addition to the above priorities, the People’s Life Fund favors projects serving the Northern California area, and 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. We are giving special priority to groups that are working in the areas of Youth, Economic and Racial Justice, and Environmental Sustainability. The PLF does not fund the same organization two years in a row.

Grants are given in a public awards ceremony on, or around, Tax Day, and recipients are expected to be present to receive their grant so that they can tell the community about the work they are doing. We also ask that recipients to list the PLF among their funders as: War Taxes Redirected by People’s Life Fund. A short report on the use of PLF grants by recipient organizations is requested once funds have been spent.

People’s Life Fund 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 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.

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. Please contact us if you want more info. on applying for a loan.

If you have trouble using the online form, or if you have questions, feel free to reach out to us at or 510-842-6124.