If I asked you to share your hope and vision for 2020 what would it be? A land flowing with milk and honey? A shimmering city set on a hill? These may have worked for the old testament prophets, but what can we realistically hope for in what can seem like a hopelessly divided and fallen world?
Add your voice to the Tax Dodging Bill campaign here
The global economy frequently appears to lack a clear moral dimension. Whilst it has generated great wealth, this has been at the expense of also creating growing inequality.
Oxfam reminded the World Economic Forum in January, the richest one percent of the world’s population are on track to have amassed more wealth than the remaining 99% in just two years’ time.
As the Church of Scotland’s report on the Purposes of Economic Activity concluded back in 2012,
“For many years we have been creating an economy where the dominant values are greed and fear. It is an economy in which the weak and the vulnerable suffer disproportionately and where non-renewable natural resources are squandered. We need to re-think what kind of people we want to be and what kind of society we want to live in.”
So is it realistic to dream of an economy that is in service to every human being irrespective of their wealth or the market value of their labour? And if we are to have such dreams, how can we possibly start to turn them into reality?
It is precisely for this reason that a number of Christian agencies and Church leaders have thrown their weight behind a new campaign to persuade political parties to get serious about tackling tax dodging if they get elected in May.
Tax dodging by wealthy individuals and corporations is estimated to cost the UK at least £60 billion a year, and the world’s poorest countries an estimated $160 billion – more than the entire global aid budget. People have witnessed exposé after exposé of large multinational companies and wealthy individuals dodging their basic civic duty to pay their fair share of tax. As a result, those least culpable are hit hardest by declining public services and living standards.
Tackling tax dodging won’t bring forth a land flowing with milk and honey (well, not by 2020 at least), but it would go some way to preventing the rich concealing their wealth from tax authorities – whether in the UK or in the global South – and re-balancing the economy in favour of poorer communities the world over.
As a group of church leaders said at the launch of the Tax Dodging Act campaign in January:
“Paying tax reflects our commitment to the society in which we live and work. It also provides the funding for good social services and infrastructure. Spent well, taxes provide a common insurance and make society fairer and more secure. 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. We urge each of the UK’s political parties to make a commitment to introduce legislation within the first 100 days of the new parliament, to bring the law into line with people’s expectations.”
More than eight in ten 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 told pollsters it was important to them that ‘large UK companies pay their fair share of tax in developing countries in which they operate’.
We need a Tax Dodging Bill to tackle corporate tax dodging, and to make tax fair. The potential benefits are huge. It is estimated that the Tax Dodging Bill could generate at least £3.6 billion more a year in tax to fight poverty in the UK, and at the same time redirect potentially billions towards tackling poverty in the world’s poorer countries.
A 2020 Vision of the Good Society if ever there was one…
Read more about the 2020 Vision of the Good Society at www.churcheselection.org.uk
- Make it harder for big companies to dodge UK taxes and ensure they’re not getting unfair tax breaks
- Ensure UK tax rules don’t encourage big companies to avoid tax in developing countries
- Make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging.
Add your voice to the Tax Dodging Bill campaign at: http://taxdodgingbill.org.uk/#signup