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Child victims of the war in Afghanistan. The UK's military operations are funded by our taxes.

Child victims of the war in Afghanistan. The UK’s military operations are funded by our taxes.

Don’t pay taxes to support illegal wars!

Both international and national law make waging war and the funding of war illegal, says local peace activist Chris Coverdale. If tax is used to pay for illegal war, taxpayers may be complicit in the illegality. But armed with this knowledge, it is also in their power to compel governments to uphold, obey and enforce international law and bring a permanent end to war and mass murder.

“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946

History demonstrates that tyrannies can be defeated without violence by withholding  tax. Magna Carta, the founding of the United States of America, the English, French and Russian revolutions and Indian independence, all came about as a result of tax rebellion, the refusal of the people to pay taxes. Without taxpayers’ money, governments are powerless.

British tanks and troops march to war in Korea, 1951 (© Crown Copyright IWM, photo BF 454).

British tanks and troops on the move in Korea, 1951 – one of 23 illegal wars Britain has engaged in since 1945, according to the writer (© Crown Copyright IWM, BF 454).

Today taxpayers have an historic opportunity to engage in lawful tax resistance. Under the laws of war citizens are forbidden from taking part in a war on the side of the aggressor and are duty bound to disobey illegal orders, including orders to pay tax. If governments use money raised by taxation to wage aggressive war, cause harm to another nation’s citizens, or engage in acts of terrorism, a taxpayer’s duty to pay tax is reversed and becomes a duty to withhold tax.

“The very essence of the Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State. He who violates the laws of war cannot obtain immunity while acting in pursuance of the authority of the State, if the State in authorising action moves outside its competence under international law…”

Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946

It is a sad but incontrovertible fact that British governments repeatedly violate the laws of war. Although Britain and all major states have given binding promises to the international community never to wage aggressive war, never to threaten or use force, never to kill a person because of their nationality, never to fund the fatal use of firearms and explosives, never to intervene in other states’ affairs, to respect the right to life, to uphold the rule of law, to settle disputes peacefully and co-operate in a spirit of brotherhood to maintain peace between nations, we have broken these agreements 23 times since 1945, killing 10 million men, women and children.

“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.”

UN Declaration on Principles of International Law 1970

British forces in the Falklands, one of the few legal wars fought by the country since WW2 (photo: Crown Copyright IWM, FKD 264).

British forces in the Falklands, one of the few legal wars fought by the country since WW2 (photo: © Crown Copyright IWM, FKD 264).

The only occasion when the use of armed force is legal is when it is used to defend a state from an armed attack. So each of the wars fought since 2001 against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria is unequivocally illegal. Not only do they violate the Treaty for the Renunciation of War and the UN Charter, but by causing the deaths of 1.2 million adults and 600,000 children, US and UK political, civil and military leaders committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, murder and crimes against peace.

It is important for taxpayers to understand that just because a prime minister says a war is lawful, it doesn’t make it lawful. Politicians lie repeatedly about the illegality of war. So when Tony Blair, David Cameron or Theresa May tell us that a war is legal and has been authorised by the UN Security Council, don’t believe them – the Security Council can never authorise the use of armed force. The acts of waging war, threatening to use or using nuclear weapons, invading and occupying an independent nation state, bombing residential areas or killing people because of their nationality are always illegal and they constitute the world’s worst crimes.

We are all accessories to war crimes

It may come as a shock to law-abiding citizens, but under Article 25 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court everyone who has paid tax in Britain since October 2001 is technically an accessory to the war crimes committed by our leaders against the Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian people, and is liable for arrest, prosecution and punishment as an accessory to the crimes. However, you will be reassured to know that article 25.3 (f) provides relief for taxpayers who were deceived by their government into believing that war is legal. Providing you end your support for war and withhold all taxes from UK public authorities until the government has ended its violations of war law, you will not be prosecuted by the ICC.

The States Parties to this Convention, deeply concerned about the worldwide escalation of acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations have agreed as follows: Any person commits an offence if that person unlawfully and wilfully provides or collects funds in the knowledge that they are to be used to carry out an act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian.

Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism 1999 [summary]

Divert tax to lawful purposes

If we are to end the killing we must find lawful ways of diverting tax away from illegal war while continuing to pay for essential services such as health, welfare and education. We need cast-iron guarantees that none of our money will be spent by public authorities on planning or waging wars of aggression or causing the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

British troops train in Kuwait prior to invading Iraq in 2003 (© Crown Copyright IWM, OP-TELIC 03-010-10-221).

British troops train in Kuwait prior to invading Iraq in 2003 (© Crown Copyright IWM, OP-TELIC 03-010-10-221).

Because we cannot trust political, civil or military leaders to use our money solely for lawful purposes, we must rely on other ways to guarantee it. One way of making certain that tax is spent lawfully is to pay it into a trust account. Money held in trust cannot be paid to a beneficiary until the conditions of the trust are met. In this case groups of taxpayers can set up taxation trusts for the benefit of public authorities (HMRC, businesses, councils, etc), on the condition that they do not receive a penny until the wars have stopped, the troops are recalled, war crimes trials have begun and all preparations for warfare have ended.

Can I be prosecuted for withholding tax?

Taxpayers often ask whether they can be prosecuted for diverting tax into a trust. The answer is no, not if the trust is properly constituted and the courts uphold the law. Providing the public authority responsible for collecting the tax is a beneficiary of the trust, then once you have paid your money into the trust you have fulfilled your duty to pay tax. The trustees can only release the money to the tax collector when the conditions of the trust are met and the government is acting legally and in full accord with the laws of war.

If a judge or public official threatens to fine or imprison you for refusing to pay tax, remind them that because the government is violating the laws of war it is just as much a crime for them to collect tax as it is for you to pay it. Unless a magistrate or judge can prove that the money will not be used by government for the purposes of terrorism or war, they commit a crime, lose jurisdiction and can be prosecuted as an accessory to war crimes and terrorism.

We can regain control over military expenditure

In future, if MPs or ministers use our money to buy or use weapons (including Trident), to recruit or pay troops, to bomb or kill civilians or wage wars of aggression, we are bound by law to withhold tax. History proves that lawful tax resistance is the single most effective non-violent way of forcing governments to accept the people’s demands, but it only succeeds when thousands take part. So we can each do our bit to stop the wars and end the killing by joining with others in withdrawing our consent to illegal war and taxation and setting up local trusts to withhold taxes until Parliament obeys and enforces the laws of war.



You can contact Chris Coverdale at, or visit Make Wars History.

See also War is Peace, Sean O’Shea’s interview with Chris Coverdale.

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Posted 17:41 Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016 In: Campaigns


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Chris Coverdale

    Patrick Burton really should check his legal facts before claiming that ‘It is not illegal to pay taxes demanded by the State’. It is unequivocally illegal to pay taxes if the State uses the money for an illegal purpose such as war, acts of terrorism, murder, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or crimes against peace.

    Each of my claims of illegality in this article are backed up with the legal grounds and statutes that underpin them. Unfortunately, because successive Prime Ministers and Attorneys General have lied to us for more than 70 years over the illegality of war, most of us believe it when we are told that our wars are legal and authorised by Security Council resolutions. All recent Government claims that our wars are legal are false and untrue. The UN Security Council and its member States are prohibited from the threat or use of force. UN Charter Article 41 states:

    The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions…

    By ignoring the word ‘not’ our corrupt leaders reverse the meaning of the law.

    Patrick asks Wasn’t the US, under international law, entiltled to retaliate against 9/11? The answer is “No!” There is not a shred of evidence that the attack on the twin towers was conducted or sponsored by the Taliban Government of Afghanistan. In fact all the evidence now points to Israel and elements in the US Administration as the States most involved in 9/11. 9/11 was a ‘false flag’ inside job arranged to justify military action Afghanistan so that the Americans could get their hands on central Asia’s oil reserves.

    The concept of using armed force to intervene in other States affairs and take innocent lives in order to save lives is nonsensical, immoral, illegal and criminal. I suggest that Patrick Burton reads the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law and considers carefully the meaning of all its 42 priniciples before he attempts to belittle or ridicule others’ attempts to uphold the rule of law. If every MP and public official in Britain is presented with a copy of the Declaration and asked to swear to uphold it before taking up their position, we have an outside chance of playing our part in creating a fair just and peaceful world.

    ‘No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law.’

    Comment by Chris Coverdale — Saturday, Oct 1, 2016 @ 07:39

  2. Patrick Burton

    This is is the second time that Chris Coverdale’s opinions have been aired without question or fairly obvious opposite arguments being put forward.
    It is not illegal to pay taxes demanded by the State, even for wars that may be in Chris’opinion ‘illegal’. Its illegal not to pay taxes but some honourable pacifists who were against ALL wars have refused to pay a proportion of tax and gone to prison (or someone else has paid their taxes for them).
    The Korean War was sanctioned by the UN thanks to the Russians non attendance of the Security Council, so no veto.
    Wasn’t the US, under international law, entiltled to retaliate against 9/11? The UK is US ally by treaty.
    The First Iraq War was a direct response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, a US and UK ally. The UK intervention in Sierra Leone and Kosovo saved many lives and led to ‘regime change’ and is appreciated by the local population. Are they on Chris’ list?

    Was Britain’s declaration of war in 1939 ‘legal’? We had treaty obligations to Poland? Was it legal to send troops to defend France? In neither case had we actully been attacked.Where was the League of Nations. The Peace Pledge Union (the major pacifist organisation) was still talking about a reasonable settlement up to and beyond the Grman invasion of France. Perhaps we or the Germans should have withheld our taxes?

    I was in Egypt earlier in the year and many people I met there, (secularists), don’t understand why the US and its allies haven’t intervened in Syria.

    Chris’ reading of revolutions is interesting. Most revolutions have been sustained, some set off, by military action. And how ‘legal’ are some revolutionary actions? No one elected the Bolsheviks, no one voted for beheading the King, in France or England?
    I also found it amusing that Chris thought the Queen should intervene to stop his illegal wars. Our ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, (military and no taxes withheld), made Parliament supreme. But perhaps Chris is a believer in the Divine Right of Kings. Is this the ‘New Politics’ mentioned in the article.

    Comment by Patrick Burton — Thursday, Sep 29, 2016 @ 15:15

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