Church leaders call on MPs and MEPs to tackle tax justice

By agency reporter
29 Jan 2013

Church leaders have written to MPs and MEPs calling for concerted action from all political parties to address the issue of tax justice.

On Friday 1 February 2013, at the end of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, the Bishop of Pontefract and other senior church leaders of the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC), will write letters to their local MPs and MEPs demanding political action on tax dodging.

The fourteen signatories were keen to point out that tax dodging, in its various forms is an injustice that keeps some people poor while others get richer. The price is not just paid here in the UK.

Christian Aid estimates that tax dodging by some unscrupulous multinational companies costs developing countries at least $160 billion a year, a figure one and a half times the global aid budget.

Chair of WYEC, the Bishop of Pontefract, Tony Robinson said: "Tax avoidance denies help to the poorest and most vulnerable people both here in the UK and in developing countries. This is morally unacceptable. As representatives of the churches of West Yorkshire we call on our politicians to take action to ensure multinational corporations pay their rightful share of tax in the countries they operate."

Writing from churches which provide night shelters and food kitchens for the homeless, the church leaders write that as the numbers of food banks and food parcels increase, the sense of injustice at tax avoidance increases too.

The letter asks the Yorkshire MPs and MEPs to:

· ensure the UK takes a lead in promoting transparency in the affairs of tax havens and the companies using them. Particularly whilst it chairs the G8 summit in June and also through the EU;

· ensure tax avoidance loopholes are closed for both companies and individuals;

· push for measures that would require companies to report on the profits they make and taxes they pay in every country in which they operate.

· push for measures that would require tax havens to automatically share information about the money flowing through them with other countries;

· ensure greater resources and energy are deployed to detect and prosecute those engaged in illegal tax evasion.

The letter comes following support from church leaders for Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty’s Tax Justice campaign.

Promoting tax justice is part of the recently launched IF campaign (www.christianaid.org.uk/if) and of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week (www.actionweek.org.uk).

The signatories to the letter are: Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract and Chair of WYEC; Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford; Rev Graham Ensor, Regional Minister, Yorkshire Baptist Association; Rev Kenneth Evans, Chair, Yorkshire District, Moravian Church; Pastor Gloria Hanley, Representative West Yorkshire African Caribbean Council of Churches; Bill Heeley, Divisional Commander, Salvation Army; Walter Jagucki, Bishop Emeritus, Lutheran Church of Great Britain; John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds; Eva Pinthus, Representative, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield; Rev Dr Liz Smith, Chair, Leeds Methodist District; Rev Dr Roger Walton, Chair, West Yorkshire Methodist District; Rev Kevin Watson, Moderator, Yorkshire Synod, United Reformed Church; and Mgr John Wilson, Administrator, Catholic Diocese of Leeds. The bishops are Anglican unless otherwise stated.

For over 25 years, West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC) has represented the churches of West Yorkshire and western North Yorkshire, building relationships between Christians of different backgrounds.

Church Action on Poverty is a national ecumenical Christian social justice charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK.

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