Budget tax reforms 'leave poor countries out in the cold', says Christian Aid

By agency reporter
March 18, 2015

Christian Aid says it sees little in the UK Chancellor’s Budget Speech, or the European Commission’s new plan on tax transparency, to make a difference to the tax dodging which drains billions from developing countries every year.

The Chancellor has announced a string of measures on tax avoidance and evasion but the UK based churches' global development agency believes that to really close the net on big companies avoiding their fair share of tax, the UK should introduce a comprehensive Tax Dodging Bill.

“We are pleased to see politicians trying to tackle rampant tax dodging”, said Joseph Stead, Christian Aid’s Senior Economic Justice Adviser.

“However, at all the points at which both UK and EU could have decided to help developing countries, they flunked it.

“In relation to tax dodging, the UK and EU appear to believe that we are not all in it together – developing countries are on their own.”

On the Government’s plans to introduce country-by-country reporting requirements for multinational companies, firms should have publicly to report the information. Failure to do this means few developing countries will benefit from the information being given to the UK’s tax authority.

“Keeping this crucial information hidden from public eyes means that developing countries are never going to get the information they need to tackle tax dodging”, warned Mr Stead.

However, Christian Aid is hopeful that further UK Government plans, to introduce a new criminal offence of helping others to evade tax, could make a difference for people living in poverty in developing countries.

“We urge the Government to consider how to make such a new law work for the world’s poorest people, who also suffer grave harm at the hands of tax evaders and their professional advisers”, added Mr Stead. “The new offence could easily be made to apply wherever in the world the crime happens, in the same way as the UK Bribery Act already does.”

Commenting on the European Commission’s new plans for greater tax transparency in Europe, he added: “For the sake of developing countries and the trust of taxpayers all over Europe, the EU needs to improve its tax transparency.

“Today’s announcement is only tiptoeing in the right direction. With the President of the Commission narrowly avoiding censure for overseeing decades of dodgy tax deals, Europe needs to do a lot more in the coming year to show it is serious about tax transparency.”

* Christian Aid http://www.christianaid.org.uk/index.aspx

[Ekk/4]

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