Christian leaders back call for new law against global tax dodging

By agency reporter
January 27, 2015

Christian leaders have thrown their weight behind a new campaign for political parties to promise to act against tax avoidance if they get elected.

Leading voices from Methodist, Quaker, Anglican, Salvation Army and evangelical traditions have declared their support for the idea that a new law is needed to curb multinational tax avoidance in the UK and developing countries.

They are responding to a campaign calling on all political parties to pledge that if they win the coming UK election, then they will rapidly introduce a Tax Dodging Bill to Parliament.

The organisations behind the campaign include faith-based groups such as Christian Aid, Church Action on Poverty and the Church Urban Fund, Methodist Tax Justice Network, Quaker and Peace and Social Witness as well as Oxfam, ActionAid and the National Union of Students.

In their statement of support for the campaign, the Church leaders say: 'People matter more than profits but every year, billions of pounds are lost through corporate tax dodging. The law needs to change so that the loopholes which allow big corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax can be closed.

"The proposed legislation has been carefully constructed and seeks the best outcome for both the UK and developing countries. It is a matter of justice, and justice – like love for our neighbour – does not stop at national boundaries."

The signatories of the statement are the Rev Martin Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, Major Heather Poxon, Director of International Development at the Salvation Army, the Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby and the Rev Joel Edwards, former International Director of the Micah Challenge.

The Church leaders' statement also urges all the UK's political parties to commit to introduce legislation within 100 days of the post-election parliament, "to bring the law into line with people's expectations".

More than eight in ten (85 per cent) of British adults regard tax avoidance by large companies as "morally wrong, even if it is legal", according to a ComRes poll for Christian Aid in November 2014. Almost as many (78 per cent) told pollsters it was important to them that 'large UK companies pay their fair share of tax in developing countries in which they operate".

The new campaign for an anti-Tax Dodging Bill estimates that well-crafted legislation could generate extra tax revenues of at least £3.6 billion a year for the UK Treasury - the equivalent of £600 for every household living below the poverty line. The campaign's new policy report also estimates that the proposed bill would generate billions more every year in tax revenues for developing countries.

The proposed Tax Dodging Bill would make it harder for multinationals to dodge UK taxes, stop them from getting unjustified tax breaks, make the UK tax regime more transparent and ensure that UK tax rules do not encourage British companies to avoid tax in developing countries.

Ekklesia is not a formal member of the Tax Dodging Bill coalition, but supports its aims and has published the detailed briefing as part of its ongoing work on tax justice since 2008.

* More information about the campaign is available at: www.taxdodgingbill.org.uk

* More on tax justice from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/taxjustice

* Tax Dodging Bill campaign http://taxdodgingbill.org.uk

* Tax Dodging Bill: time for change (via Ekklesia): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21385

* Ekklesia comment: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21387)

* More on the issues involved in the 2015 General Election from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

[Ekk/3]

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