Government castigated by War on Want over tax havens

By staff writers
April 22, 2009

The anti-poverty charity, War on Want, says that the 2009 UK budget has failed to provide a breakthrough on tax avoidance and tax havens, which cost Britain billions of pounds and contribute toward impoverishment across the world.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: “The government claims to lead a crusade against tax havens – yet delivered little today."

He continued: "Britain loses an estimated £100 billion a year through tax dodging – a sum badly needed in the current economic crisis. And corporate tax dodging costs developing countries an estimated £250 billion a year."

"Closing loopholes to raise up to £1 billion is a paltry substitute for shutting down secretive tax havens and cracking down on City of London tax dodges,” said Mr McRae.

Earlier this month, the charity also attacked the G20 for its failure to take decisive action to close down tax havens.

Tax dodging and capital flight costs Africa an estimated £75 billion each year - five times what the continent receives in aid, say critics.

Many of the world's tax havens are British - overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands or Crown Dependencies such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

War on Want says 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 to dodge tax.

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