Tax Dodging Bill: time for change

Abstract

Ekklesia is pleased to support the newly-launched Tax Dodging Bill coalition and the changes it is advocating. As a Christian think-tank concerned with changing the agenda on politics and belief to benefit people and planet, and especially the poorest and most vulnerable, we have been commenting, analysing, reporting and advocating on the need for just taxation policies actively since 2008. We support the work of the Tax Justice Network, and we are pleased to co-publish this briefing on the idea of a Tax Dodging Bill.

In a just tax system, everyone pays their fair share - each according to their means – to the public purse. But when those most able to pay can unfairly escape their contributions to society, the majority of people lose out. Inequality increases and there is less public money available to contribute towards
improving the lives of the poorest.

Currently, at a time of austerity and cut backs, huge companies are getting away with paying much less than their fair share of tax. A National Audit Office report has shown that more than 400 of the 800 largest businesses in the UK paid less than £10 million in corporation tax in the 2012/13 fiscal year and around 160 paid no corporation tax at all.

A Tax Dodging Bill introduced within the first hundred days after the 2015 General Election, whichever party or parties is in power, says the Tax Dodging Bill coalition, should:

1. Make it harder for big companies to dodge UK taxes and make sure they are not getting unjustified tax breaks by (a) ensuring that foreign multinationals can’t use tax havens to avoid their fair share of tax in the UK; and (b) rigorously reviewing tax breaks, ensuring that the full costs and benefits of all tax breaks for companies are properly reported and scrapping any which cannot be justified by their benefits to the economy, society and the environment.

2. Ensure UK tax rules do not incentivise UK companies to avoid tax in developing countries, by toughening up the UK’s anti-tax haven rules to deter tax dodging at home and abroad and reviewing other tax rules to assess whether they undermine developing countries’ ability to raise vital revenue through taxation.

3. Make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging, by (a) requiring companies to publish their taxes, profits and other key data for each country where they do business; and (b) toughening the tax regime, making tax avoidance schemes riskier for those promoting and benefiting from them and more costly when they fail as well as ensuring that HMRC has the means to crack down harder on tax dodging.

Ekklesia is not a formal member of the coalition, but supports the kind of changes it is advocating. As a Christian think-tank concerned with changing the agenda on politics and belief to benefit people and planet, and especially the poorest and most vulnerable, we have been commenting, analysing, reporting and advocating on the need for just taxation policies actively since 2008 (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/taxjustice). We support the work of the Tax Justice Network, and we are pleased to co-publish this briefing on the idea of a Tax Dodging Bill.

* Read the full briefing paper here (*PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/tax-dodging-bill-po...