UK pro-Palestine campaign seeks tax boycott over Gaza 'genocide'

UK pro-Palestine campaign seeks tax boycott over Gaza 'genocide'
The newly launched No Tax for Genocide campaign wants British citizens to stop paying taxes in protest at the government's support for Israel's war on Gaza
3 min read
16 March, 2024
There is growing discontent in the UK over the government's continued support for Israel's war on Gaza[Getty]

Pro-Palestine activists have launched a new campaign that aims to get British citizens to use their power as taxpayers to demand change, amid mounting pressure to end Israel’s brutal and indiscriminate war on Gaza

The campaign, No Tax For Genocide, accuses the UK of complicity’s in Israel’s war, which has killed over 30,000 people, and argues that people and businesses are within their rights to stop paying taxes.

Influenced by Don’t Pay UK, a campaign to boycott the payment of energy bills which may have enforced the freezing of energy prices in 2022 by the UK government, the pro-Palestine campaigners claim that under international law, paying taxes to a government that aids and abets genocide is illegal.  

"A lot of people want to do more, right? They go to the protests, people even do direct action, you're seeing all types of mobilization for Palestine, the biggest frustration is, how can I use my power? What power do I have?" Ashish Prashar, the co-founder of the No Tax for Genocide campaign told The New Arab

"One group of lawyers that I'm working with found that it is perfectly legal, because of certain laws that were passed in the UK and the Rome Statute that we ratified for the ICC. There was a way we actually found that you can be individually culpable, or as a business, for paying tax to your government, if they're committing, or aiding and abetting a genocide or mass atrocity."

Prashar added that tax resistance is not a new concept.  

He said that the tactic has been entrenched within the "British psyche of a way to remind politicians that they work for us."

With the popularity of the UK energy protest movement of 2022, Prashar argued that the tax protest could be an effective method of solidarity and collective action for Palestinians, shedding light on the UK government's arming and provision of political cover to Israel.

Prashar, who is working alongside Palestine Liberation Movement UK’s Salma Kalisvaart and activist Chris Coverdale, hopes to accumulate 100,000 pledges for his campaign. 

If this happens, those who signed the pledge will be told to notify their regional and national tax authorities and begin withholding tax. 

“A small business that is what I would say, pro-Palestinian, has already done so,” Prashar claimed. 

"They've already basically messaged HMRC and said we're not paying our tax and their employees don't want to pay their tax. HMRC has responded to [their query] but they didn't demand the tax. Because they didn’t have a legal foot to stand on."

Prashar said that the UK government can gradually be pressured to reform its stance supporting Israel in its military campaign against Gaza, with opposition among the British public growing.

“What a better way to end the weapons transfers to Israel, what a better way to end that political and financial support to Israel than taking the money away from the government to do so? Where there is a way they can't do anything?" he said.

"In the UK, there is somewhere between 30 and 40 million people who actually pay tax. You only need 10 percent to really cripple this government. It took 3 million people to change the energy policy, we want three to 4 million people.

"And if you look at the size of the marches, the size of the big groups that have come together in support of Palestine, in support of human rights, I don't see this as a difficult number for us to get to for everyone to stop paying taxes," Prashar added.

The New Arab approached the Foreign Office for comment and did not respond to requests for a reply. 

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in response to a request for comment, referred The New Arab to the government’s website for information on “what will happen if you do not pay your tax bill.”