Charities and union struggle against tax dodgers

By agency reporter
16 Dec 2010

Campaigners from charities and Britain's largest civil service union will tomorrow (17 December 2010) demonstrate outside the headquarters of HM Revenue and Customs amid calls for a blitz on tax dodgers to avoid cuts in public services and jobs.

War on Want and the Jubilee Debt Campaign will join with campaigners from the Public and Commercial Services Union, including General Secretary Mark Serwotka, in a rally against reductions in HMRC resources.

The protest will come on the eve of a day of mass action organised by the group UK Uncut, focused on the stores of communications giant Vodafone and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia, such as Topshop, over allegations of tax dodges.

War on Want, JDC and PCS say the poorest and most vulnerable people are being made to pay for an unsustainable and irresponsible financial system. They claim that there is a viable alternative to spending cuts.

The demonstration will take place outside the Revenue & Customs HQ to oppose UK government plans that would axe a further 13,000 jobs in HMRC on top of the 30,000 that have gone since 2005 and the closure of around 200 offices.

These jobs are being shed at a time when the British economy is losing £120 billion a year through tax dodging, in the form of uncollected tax, illegal tax evasion and abuse of tax loopholes.

In addition, developing countries lose an estimated £250 billion a year as a direct result of corporate tax dodging, forgoing income which could fuel development and provide vital services like healthcare, education and housing.

The protesters will point to the major role played by the UK in helping companies dodge the tax they owe. Many of the world's tax havens are British, whether overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands or Crown Dependencies, such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The City of London acts as the nerve centre for these tax havens and supports an army of pinstriped lawyers and accountants devoted to helping companies dodge tax.

The demonstrators will call for the government to introduce a progressive, transparent tax system that will provide for the poor and properly tax the corporations both here and overseas

Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary, said: "Successive years of cuts in HMRC have left the department unable to cope. To cut even more jobs at a time when we are told everything must be done to tackle the deficit is not only wrong, it is economically illiterate. Collecting the billions in tax that is due provides a major part of the alternative to the government's damaging and ideologically driven cuts agenda."

War on Want's executive director John Hilary said: "The poorest and most vulnerable are being made to pay for a financial crisis sparked by the rich, while corporations and rich individuals are allowed to get away with dodging billions in tax that could save jobs and services from decimation. It is time to end the scandal of tax dodging."

Nick Dearden, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "Across Europe, ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bail-out of the financial sector, which created this crisis in the first place. It is time to put an end to 30 years of failed economic policies which have created deep levels of poverty across the developing world and now threaten similar consequences here in Europe. We need to take control of this financial system, and make it work for people and the planet. Clamping down on tax dodging is a vital part of doing so."

[Ekk/4]

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