The “revolutionary tax” is a fundraising method normally associated with Marxist movements and ideology-based terrorism. One dictionary defines a revolutionary tax, or impuesto revolucionario, as an amount of money “a terrorist group demands from a business or wealthy person under threat of death.”*
W. A. Tupman has noted that revolutionary taxes are most often imposed by urban guerrillas to finance terrorist operations.
The inspiration for the revolutionary tax seems to trace back to Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, who once wrote that “In a revolution, taxation, swollen to colossal proportions, can be used as a form of attack against private property,” in a review of Emile de Girardin’s book Le socialisme et l’impôt (“Socialism and Taxes”).
Money Jihad doesn’t normally link to Wikipedia, but this particular entry describes the phenomenon of revolutionary taxation so succinctly and clearly that it’s a must read:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Revolutionary tax is a major form of funding for violent non-state actors such as guerrilla and terrorist organizations. Those outside the organization may consider it to be a euphemism for “protection money.” Proponents of such groups maintain however that there is no difference between the revolutionary taxes “extorted” by given groups and corporate taxes raised by governments.
Revolutionary taxes are typically extorted from businesses, and they also “play a secondary role as one other means of intimidating the target population.”
The Irish Provisional IRA and Corsican FLNC have extorted revolutionary taxes as well as the following organizations.
The Basque nationalist organization ETA depended on revolutionary taxes. Small to medium-sized businesses were extorted between the amounts of 35,000 to 400,000 euros each, which comprised most of ETA’s 10 million euro budget in 2001.
In the Philippines most local and foreign companies pay revolutionary taxes to the Maoist New People’s Army. According to the army, the tax is a major obstacle for the country’s development while the New People’s Army justified it as a tax to be paid upon entering territories controlled by the rebels being a belligerent force.
The revolutionary taxes of Colombian guerrilla movements have become more common in the 1980s and 1990s.
The maoist guerillas of Nepal have also widely extorted revolutionary taxes.
The national socialist Argentine Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara (MNT) demanded a “revolutionary tax” from many Jewish shops in Buenos Aires.
In the Soviet Russia, the Bolshevik government decreed a revolutionary tax on November 2, 1918. Although the Bolshevik government already controlled the country, its opponents were still internationally recognized as the lawful rulers.
- ^ a b Detection of Terrorist Financing, U.S. National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), 2002
- ^ MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING: AN OVERVIEW, Jean-François Thony, IMF.org, Seminar on Current Developments in Monetary and Financial Law Washington, D.C., May 7–17, 2002. “Money laundering and the financing of terrorism may be seen as distinct activities. … sometimes discreetly called a “revolutionary tax” (ETA, FLNC, IRA)”
- ^ Terrorism versus democracy: the liberal state response, Paul Wilkinson, Frank Cass Publishers, 2001, p. 70
- ^ Suspected ETA supporters arrested in cross-border swoop Euronews 20/06/06
- ^ Terror, Fires, Hail: Holiday Time in Europe, ABC News
- ^ Counterterrorism: An Example of Co-operation, Juan Miguel Lian Macias, Ministry of Defence of Spain, 2002-2-22: “ETA is funded mainly from one source: the money it collects through extortion of small and medium businessmen, charging them the so-called “revolutionary tax”. At present the amounts required are between 35,000 and 400,000 euros. The annual budget the terrorist organisation needs for the maintenance of its structures is estimated at around 10 million euros. Beyond the Spanish borders, ETA seeks links with similar groups and causes. Hence, it intends to gain the support of ideologically akin groups. It has or has had contacts with the Breton Revolutionary Army, with Corsican and Irish terrorist groups, with revolutionary groups from Latin America, etc.”
- ^ Rebels’ ‘revolutionary tax’ adds to cost of business in Philippines, N.Y.Times, October 20, 2004
- ^ Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, U.S. Department of State
- ^ Negotiating with Terrorists – A Reassessment of Colombia’s Peace Policy, NICOLAS URRUTIA, Stanford Journal of International Relations, vol. 3, issue 2, 2002
- ^ Trekking in the time of terrorism – The east is red with rhododendron and revolution, DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA, GUPHA POKHARI #243, 15.4.2005
- ^ Socialism: Still Impossible After All These Years, Peter J. Boettke & Peter T. Leeson, George Mason University, s. 13; Critical Review, Vol. 17, Autumn 2005
The un-cited imposition of the revolutionary tax against Jews in Buenos Aires mentioned above is documented in The War of All the People by Jon B. Perdue.
Having explained the term, the academic concept of a revolutionary tax really needs to be broadened to include religious-based revolutionary movements, especially Islamist movements. The Islamic fundamentalist imposition of the twin sharia taxes—zakat on Muslims and jizya on non-Muslims—is an attempt to revive aspects of Caliphate-era tax law and combine them with contemporary terrorist financing tactics. This has been most clearly illustrated in the 1990s and 2000s in Afghanistan by the Taliban, but also by jihadist groups in Pakistan and Somalia. And such extortion has not been limited to urban centers; it has been carried out in the countryside too.
Finally, it is important to note that ETA’s longstanding and profitable revolutionary tax mentioned above has reportedly been abandoned. If the tax on Basque and Navarran businessmen that ETA benefited from for so many years has come to an end, perhaps there is hope that one day, the Islamic terrorists can be forced to abandon their jihad tax.
VOX Media, Diccionario Escolar, 2nd Edition (London: McGraw Hill Professional, 2011).