Oxfam International Blogs - end tax havens http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/end-tax-havens en Business leaders raise the bar on corporate tax behavior http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-02-08-business-leaders-raise-bar-corporate-tax-behavior <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Benjamin Franklin’s famous line that nothing is certain, except death and taxes, no longer holds true. Exposé after exposé have proved that it is all too easy for wealthy individuals and powerful corporations to sidestep their tax obligations. The practice has become so widespread that tax dodging is considered standard business practice by many corporate bosses. <br><br>This may now be set to change. The <a href="http://www.bteam.org/" rel="nofollow"><strong>B Team</strong></a>, a coalition of forward-looking business leaders including Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, have announced a<a href="http://www.bteam.org/responsibletax" rel="nofollow"> new set of principles and commitments on corporate tax</a>. Despite some notable weaknesses, this initiative raises the bar on what constitutes responsible corporate tax behavior. &nbsp;<br><br>The principles require signatory companies, which currently include Allianz, Unilever and Vodafone Group Plc, to make real changes.&nbsp; For example, companies commit to publish and report on their tax strategy; not abuse tax havens; provide an explanation for any subsidiaries located in low-tax jurisdictions; and to be transparent about all the entities they own around the world. <br><br>These commitments go well beyond what is legally required of companies.&nbsp; They set a new standard for companies that claim to operate responsibly — claims that ring hollow if businesses do not pay their fair share of tax.<br><br>But the principles do fall short in important ways. Notably, by leaving the pace of implementation up to the companies themselves, and by failing to require that companies publish a full financial report for every country where they do business – an important safeguard against tax dodging. <br><br>Instead, the B Team principles require companies to provide ‘information on the taxes paid at a country level, together with information on economic activity.’ If this requirement is to be meaningful, ‘economic activity’ must include country level information on revenue, profits before tax, total corporate income taxes paid, along with a breakdown of other tax payments, assets and number of employees. This should also be accompanied by information which will enable the public to gauge whether companies are paying their fair share of tax in every country where they operate.&nbsp; This could include, for example, an explanation of why a company’s effective tax rate differs from a country’s statutory rate.<br><br>The B Team has an impressive history of marshaling forward-looking business leaders to weigh in on important and challenging social issues, such as demonstrating support for the Paris climate accords.&nbsp; Producing the principles on tax was not easy.&nbsp; The B Team convened a group of business and civil society leaders, including contributions from Oxfam, to work through contentious issues.&nbsp;&nbsp; It’s unlikely that anyone emerged from these conversations fully satisfied, but the discussion delivered real progress.<br><br>For years Oxfam has railed against a broken international tax system that allows huge companies to dodge hundreds of billions of dollars in tax, depriving governments the world over of the money they need to invest in schools, roads, and hospitals to ensure the health and well-being of their citizens and services upon which business also rely. &nbsp;<br><br>This is a problem that must be fixed by governments – and it is hoped that the first global conference of the <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2017/06/06/first-global-conference-of-the-platform-for-collaboration-on-tax" rel="nofollow">Platform for Collaboration on Tax</a>, taking place in New York next week, could mark the start of a new global initiative to do just that.&nbsp; But business leaders have a critically important role to play by spearheading a better way of doing business as well as championing broader reforms. &nbsp;<br><br>Oxfam, together with ActionAid and Christian Aid, published a report called ‘<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/getting-good-towards-responsible-corporate-tax-behavior" rel="nofollow">Getting to Good</a>’ that lays out the pathway for responsible corporate behavior on tax. The B Team incorporated many of the elements from ‘Getting to Good’ in their principles.&nbsp; Importantly, the B-Team principles are also aligned with the <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/" rel="nofollow">Sustainable Development Goals</a>, which call on companies to examine how core business issues, such as wage levels and tax practices, support or undermine the fight against poverty.&nbsp; Far too often companies treat both wages and taxes as costs to be reduced rather than investments in the communities in which they operate.<br><br>Companies choose whether to take the high road or the low road on tax. Corporations choose how much money to park in offshore tax havens, they choose how secretive to be about their financial structures, they choose how aggressively to minimize the taxes they pay, and they choose, when they meet behind closed doors with politicians, whether to advocate for tax loopholes to line their own pockets, or push for a more level playing field for everyone.<br><br>Too often companies make the wrong choices.&nbsp; Offshore tax havens are flush with corporate cash, companies hide their tax activities in opaque and esoteric legal structures, and politicians are only too happy to accept corporate campaign contributions while expanding opportunities for tax dodging. &nbsp;<br><br>The new set of principles announced by the B Team could help break this cycle.&nbsp; Companies have a clear option to do right on tax. All companies should meet the basic commitments articulated by the B Team and truly forward-looking companies should do even more.&nbsp; They should issue full public reporting of their tax payments and economic activity on a country-by-country basis, align their tax payments and structures to the actual economic value created by their business, and commit to an aggressive timeline to implement responsible corporate tax behavior. &nbsp;<br><br>The B Team has called on civil society organizations to ensure that company signatories follow through on their commitments. Oxfam plans to heed that call. The <a href="https://actions.oxfam.org/international/fight-inequality-2018/petition/" rel="nofollow">fight for tax justice</a> will continue in 2018 and beyond, with an important new ally in the B Team.</p><p><em>This entry posted by Winnie Byanyima (<a href="https://twitter.com/Winnie_Byanyima" rel="nofollow">@Winnie_Byanyima</a>),&nbsp;Executive Director of Oxfam International, on 8 February 2018.</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Business leaders raise the bar on corporate tax behavior </h2></div> Thu, 08 Feb 2018 15:04:26 +0000 Winnie Byanyima 81403 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-02-08-business-leaders-raise-bar-corporate-tax-behavior#comments Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-12-18-latin-america-remains-most-unequal-region-world <div class="field field-name-body"><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><em>This entry posted by Oxfam's Communication Team in Latin America on 19 December 2017.</em></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><p><span>Although income inequality has fallen in recent years, Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world. In 2014 the richest 10% of people in Latin America had amassed 71% of the region’s wealth. If this trend continues, according to Oxfam’s calculations, in just six years’ time the richest 1% in the region will have accumulated more wealth than the remaining 99%.</span></p><p>From 2002 to 2015, the fortunes of Latin America’s billionaires grew by an average of 21% per year —an increase that Oxfam estimates is six times greater than the growth of the whole region’s GDP.</p><p>Much of this wealth is held offshore in tax havens, which means that a sizeable portion of the benefits of Latin America’s growth are being captured by a small number of very wealthy individuals, at the expense of the poor and the middle class. This extreme income concentration and inequality is also confirmed by analysis of the tax data available on personal income in selected countries of the region.</p><p><strong>Gender inequality: a cause and a consecquence of income inequality</strong></p><p>And yes, there are more poor women than men in Latin America and the Caribbean. Women make up the majority of low-paid workers and those in the most precarious forms of work and who face disproportionate responsibilities for unpaid care work, which restricts their chances of taking up leadership positions or professional or technical jobs.</p><p>On average worldwide, women spend nearly 2.5 times more time on unpaid work than men each day and studies have shown that their responsibilities for unpaid care work do not reduce as they increase their participation in the labor market.</p><p><span>Gender inequality is both a cause and a consequence of income inequality. The IMF recently found that in countries with higher levels of income inequality, gender inequalities across health, education, labor market participation and representation were also higher. The gender pay gap, where women earn less than men for doing the same jobs, is also found to be higher in more unequal societies and this is compounded by occupational segregation and unpaid care responsibilities. Women get much less of the </span>economic pie than men do, and the very highest incomes are reserved almost exclusively for men – 445 of the 500 richest people in the world are men.</p><p><img alt="Photo: Percy Ramírez-Oxfam" title="How would the holiday season be without any discrimination towards women? 66% of Latin Americans believe the greatest challenge in the region is inequality between women and men. #HolidaysForChanging and sharing the chores. Photo: Percy Ramírez-Oxfam" height="827" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="4" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/cred_-_percy_ramirez_interna_1.jpg" /></p><p><strong>Youth suffer most from economic crisis&nbsp;</strong></p><p><b><span></span></b><span>‘We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that recovery is not universal and that almost 43 percent of the global youth labor force is still either unemployed or working yet living in poverty. It’s still not easy to be young and starting out in today’s labor market.’&nbsp;</span></p><p>Although the effects of the 2008 global recession have varied widely, youth are consistently the most affected. Moreover, youth have been hit harder than in previous recessions. A study of 17 middle-income countries found that youth experienced the largest rise in unemployment rates, which was even higher for young women, youth members of another marginalized group, and those living in rural areas. In 15 of the 17 countries included in the study, wage rates also decreased for youth.&nbsp;</p><p>In Latin America, despite relatively low overall unemployment rates over the past decade, youth represent over 40 percent of all unemployed people, despite comprising only 18 percent of the population.</p><p><strong>How to tackle inequality<br></strong></p><p>What is needed is a multi-pronged strategy to rebalance power within global and national economies, empowering people who are currently excluded and keeping the influence of the rich and powerful in check.</p><p>This is necessary for economies to work better in the interests of the majority and in particular in the interests of the poorest people, who have the most to gain from a fairer distribution of income and wealth. Governments in particular must work for citizens, representing the will of the people rather than the interests of big business, and must tackle extreme inequality.</p><p>This goes hand in hand with effective governance. The public interest should be the guiding principle of all global agreements and national policies and strategies.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="Photo: Jesús Aurazo Dávila - Oxfam" title="Imagine if Santa Claus only had presents for 1 out of every 4 children. 75% of Latin Americans think authorities govern only for the most powerful. #HolidaysForChanging the rules and counting on public policies for all, not just the few." height="2550" width="4207" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="5" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/cred_-_jesus_aurazo_davila_interna_2_0.jpg" /></p><p><em>Photo: Jesús Aurazo Dávila - Oxfam</em></p><p><b>References: </b></p><ul><li><em>Alicia Bárcena y Winnie Byanyima (2016),</em> <i>América Latina y el Caribe es la región más desigual del mundo.</i> <i>¿Cómo solucionarlo? <em>(https://blogs.oxfam.org/es/blogs/16-03-16-america-latina-y-el-caribe-region-mas-desigual-mundo).</em></i></li><li><i><em></em></i>Rosa María Cañete Alonso (2015), <i>Privilegios que niegan derechos, Desigualdad extrema y secuestro de la democracia en América Latina y el Caribe</i>. (https://www.oxfam.org/es/informes/privilegios-que-niegan-derechos).</li><li>Jennifer Glassco y Lina Holguin (2016), BOLETÍN INFORMATIVO DE OXFAM, <i>JOVENES Y DESIGUALDAD, Es tiempo de apoyar a los jóvenes como actores de su propio futuro. </i>(https://peru.oxfam.org/sites/peru.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/J%C3%B3venes%20y%20desigualdad_2_0.pdf).</li><li>Deborah Hardoon (2017), <i>Una economía para el 99%, Es hora de construir una economía más humana y justa al servicio de las personas</i>. (https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-economy-for-99-percent-160117-es.pdf).</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world</h2></div> Mon, 18 Dec 2017 19:11:37 +0000 Guest Blogger 81334 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-12-18-latin-america-remains-most-unequal-region-world#comments Paradise Papers exposes feeble political attempts to end tax havens http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-11-05-paradise-papers-exposes-feeble-political-attempts-end-tax-havens <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Another year, another scandal.</strong></p> <p>First came <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxembourg_Leaks">#LuxLeaks</a>, then <a href="https://panamapapers.icij.org/">#PanamaPapers</a>. Today, reporters all over the world are covering the <a href="https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/">Paradise Papers</a>, based on leaked documents from yet another offshore tax firm, showing how international corporations and billionaires hide their fortunes and avoid paying taxes.</p> <p>Why is Oxfam campaigning on this at all? For one simple reason -- the money sitting in these tax havens could be used to fund schools, hospitals, and help people escape poverty.</p> <p><a href="http://endtaxhavensnow.org"><strong>Join the movement to End Tax Havens</strong></a></p> <h3>Tax, poverty, inequality</h3> <p>This is about more than just basic fairness. This kind of tax dodging causes very real damage.</p> <p>Corporate tax dodging alone costs poor countries at least $100 billion every year - enough money to provide an education for 124 million children and prevent the deaths of at least six million children.</p> <p>Many of the companies and individuals involved in these scandals defend themselves by saying, “but this wasn’t illegal!”</p> <p>That’s a big part of the problem.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ParadisePapers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ParadisePapers</a> Corporate tax dodging costs poor countries at least $100bn est every year. Time to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndTaxHavens?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndTaxHavens</a>→ <a href="https://t.co/comlRnuOnE">https://t.co/comlRnuOnE</a> <a href="https://t.co/TQSdR1iPxk">pic.twitter.com/TQSdR1iPxk</a></p> <p>— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) <a href="https://twitter.com/Oxfam/status/927257993971937280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 5, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><h3>The tax system benefits the rich</h3> <p>In too many places, tax codes are purposefully riddled with loopholes to benefit the wealthiest. Super-rich corporations and individuals spend millions of dollars lobbying to make sure that their fortunes stay safe.</p> <p>Just look at the current tax reforms <a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2017/11/3-reasons-not-to-get-on-board-with-the-new-house-tax-bill/">under debate right now</a> in the United States. The plan would create new incentives for companies to stash even more funds in tax havens, starving government agencies of badly-needed funds to help the poorest. It’s Robin Hood in reverse.</p> <p>The other part of the problem is the so-called “race to the bottom,” where countries take turns slashing corporate tax rates and offering incentives in a frenzied bid to attract investment.</p> <p>The truth is, corporate taxes are lower than they’ve been in decades in many countries. The average rate across G20 countries was 40 percent in 1990; today, it’s less than 30.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en">"Outraged at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ParadisePapers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ParadisePapers</a> tax scandal? Join the movement to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndTaxHavens?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndTaxHavens</a>!" <a href="https://twitter.com/Winnie_Byanyima?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Winnie_Byanyima</a> <a href="https://t.co/comlRnuOnE">https://t.co/comlRnuOnE</a> <a href="https://t.co/zEFUNWZLHm">pic.twitter.com/zEFUNWZLHm</a></p> <p>— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) <a href="https://twitter.com/Oxfam/status/927536408776060928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 6, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><h3>So where do we go from here?</h3> <p>One thing’s clear — the “fixes” that have been tried barely scratch the surface of the problem.</p> <p>The OECD and the G20 have promoted the <a href="http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/">“BEPS” tax reforms</a>, and have managed to persuade more than 100 countries to sign on. This process though does little to prevent the use of tax havens, and limits how much poor countries can get out of the process.</p> <p>Furthermore, the <a href="https://www.taxjustice.net/2017/06/28/empty-oecd-tax-haven-blacklist-undermines-progress/">“blacklist” of tax havens</a> that these two organizations published earlier this year contained just one country on it - a sharp disconnect with the real picture that scandals like this one paint.</p> <h3>Three key ways to End Tax Havens</h3> <p>Here are three things that need to happen to get to the root of the problem:</p> <ol><li><strong>We need a real blacklist</strong>, one based on objective, comprehensive criteria, and free from political interference. Listed countries should face stiff penalties.</li> <li><strong>To end tax secrecy, we need transparency</strong>. Governments should make multinational companies report publicly their financial information to see where they do business and where they pay taxes.  They should also establish a publicly-available, centralized register of companies, foundations and trusts, and we should know who their real owners are. This will make it easier to follow the money.</li> <li><strong>Finally, we need a second round of tax reforms</strong> to build on the BEPS process, but this time around, it should work in favor of all countries, and not just the wealthiest.</li> </ol><p>These changes take a lot of time and effort, but most importantly, they take political will.</p> <p>Otherwise, the super-rich will keep siphoning billions of dollars away from our homes and into their offshore accounts.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Simon Hernandez-Arthur, Oxfam Media Officer, on 5 November 2017.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="http://endtaxhavensnow.org"><strong>Join the movement to End Tax Havens</strong></a></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Paradise Papers exposes feeble political attempts to end tax havens</h2></div> Sun, 05 Nov 2017 18:17:09 +0000 Guest Blogger 81276 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-11-05-paradise-papers-exposes-feeble-political-attempts-end-tax-havens#comments SwissLeaks: Why Corporate Tax Scandals Won’t Go Away http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-02-08-swissleaks-why-corporate-tax-scandals-wont-go-away <div class="field field-name-body"><p>One year ago today, a team of <a href="http://www.icij.org/project/swiss-leaks/explore-swiss-leaks-data" rel="nofollow"><strong>international journalists published</strong></a> details of hundreds of secret bank accounts held by a motley crew of wealthy individuals in the <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-02-11-breaking-cycle-how-europe-can-stop-industrial-tax-dodging"><strong>Swiss banking arm of the HSBC</strong></a>.  Altogether the accounts were hiding more than $100 billion out of the sight of tax authorities.</p> <p>$100 billion sat idle while sluggish economies around the world were – and still are - desperate for productive investment. If tax were paid on the income that this hidden wealth generated, millions of dollars more would have been available to governments for vital public services like schools and hospitals, or medical research and infrastructure investment. For example, the SwissLeaks scandal revealed that wealthy Latin-American residents amassed over $52 billion in these secret bank accounts between 2006 and 2007. This is equivalent to 26 per cent of the region’s total public spending on health.</p> <p>The scandal made <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/09/hsbc-files-bank-swiss-arm-tax-international-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>headlines</strong></a> around the globe but it was not the first – and it has not been the last by a long stretch.  With every new scandal politicians line up to express their outrage.  Yet despite their rhetoric they have still not taken the action needed to stop - or criminalize - the schemes accountants and wealth managers’ use to reduce their wealthy clients’ tax bills.</p> <p>Some of these schemes are illegal – but many are perfectly legal under current global tax laws. Both result in governments being cheated out of tax revenues.  Unless governments change the rules - and their attitudes - to corporate tax abuse, these scandals will never go away.</p> <p>For example, US-based digital corporate giant Google has been at the centre of a media storm for the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/29/googles-tax-deal-with-the-uk-key-questions-answered-chancellor-taxes" rel="nofollow"><strong>£130m tax deal</strong></a> it recently agreed with the UK revenue service. The deal means Google paid just £200 million in tax on the estimated £7.2 billion it made in profits in the UK since 2005. Google used the so-called double Irish and Dutch sandwich <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement" rel="nofollow"><strong>tax avoidance scheme</strong></a>, whereby profits are routed first through an Irish subsidiary company, then to a Dutch subsidiary company and finally to a second Irish company headquartered in a recognized tax haven – in this case Bermuda. As Google points out, this is legal under UK law and permissible under international tax rules. Google is not alone in the manner in which it manages its tax affairs.</p> <p><strong>Why are governments so reluctant to take the tough action needed on the world’s most prolific tax dodgers? </strong></p> <p>In May 2014, Oxfam released <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/business-among-friends" rel="nofollow"><strong>Business among Friends: Why corporate tax dodgers are not yet losing sleep over tax reforms</strong></a>, which critically appraises international efforts to clamp down on corporate tax dodging. The paper argues that international corporate tax rules are rigged in favour of commercial interests who successfully pursue their agenda at the cost of the public interest. Big corporations use their vast resources to   lobby governments on issues and policies that affect their business interests.</p> <p>While it would be misplaced to suggest that corporates should not have a voice on the issues concerning them, the excessive influence they now wield is undermining our democratic institutions and skewing government policy-making in their favour. This is happening at the cost of the very people who these same governments are supposed to represent.  </p> <p>For example, in the second quarter of 2015, <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/07/google-facebook-amazon-lobbying/" rel="nofollow"><strong>Google spent a whopping $4.62 million on lobbying efforts</strong></a> across the range of its policy interests, including international taxation. More generally, the most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/wealth-having-it-all-and-wanting-more" rel="nofollow"><strong>budget and tax issues</strong></a>; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists.</p> <p>In the international arena, Oxfam has long been concerned about the unjustifiable and disproportionate influence that powerful business interests have on OECD member governments’ tax policy making, particularly when compared to the lack of influence wielded by poor countries.</p> <p><strong>While all countries suffer because of corporate tax dodging</strong>, poorer economies are hit hardest because corporate tax revenues comprise a higher proportion of their national income.  Yet the majority of developing countries have not been allowed an equal say in decisions on international taxation. They have to work within the system created and agreed by rich governments, because they are not members of the G20, or OECD, which lead key international negotiations on tax rules.</p> <p>A consequence of governments working to promote vested interests is large-scale tax dodgers acting with seeming impunity, and corporates using tax havens as entirely common place.  Nine out of ten of the world’s biggest companies have a presence in at least one tax haven. Meanwhile, corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.</p> <p><strong>However there are signs this could all change.  </strong></p> <p>High profile publicity surrounding tax scandals and the public outrage that has followed indicates that how a company manages its tax affairs carries a real reputational risk. Companies are beginning to realise they need to win back the trust of their customers and investors.</p> <p>Companies must re-conceive their tax responsibilities and, as with many issues of corporate social responsibility, values must shape their behaviour. They need to start embracing ‘<a href="http://community.businessfightspoverty.org/profiles/blogs/responsible-tax-behaviour-an-opportunity-for-companies-to-reverse" rel="nofollow"><strong>responsibility beyond legal compliance</strong></a>,’ and ensure that their conduct on tax reflects their broader duties to contribute to the public good that enable the development of the type of societies in which profitable, sustainable companies can thrive.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/getting-to-good-towards-responsible-corporate-tax-behaviour-582243" rel="nofollow"><strong>recent paper</strong></a>, Oxfam, ActionAid and Christian Aid suggested actions that companies can take. For example, companies could publish country-by-country reports before being legally required to do so; or publish a comprehensive tax strategy that is linked to corporate responsibility (or sustainability) strategy.</p> <p>Companies must also “preach what they practice”. If they are truly responsible companies, they should ensure that their lobbying positions are in line their corporate responsibility positions. On taxation, this means they should support global efforts to make tax rules more progressive and fair – and not work to undermine them.</p> <p><strong>Ultimately it is the responsibility of governments</strong> to show leadership and greater fortitude in protecting the public interest against large-scale tax abuse by creating fair and consistent global tax rules. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03h3f12" rel="nofollow"><strong>Even Google say international tax systems need reform</strong></a>.  </p> <p>How these reforms are made is of critical importance. Tax reform is not is not just a rich country issue. Negotiations at the UN’s Financing for Development Conference in Addis last year went to the wire with an astonishing final stand-off between rich and poor countries  on the creation of a global tax body that would give all countries - not just the rich and powerful - an equal say in how the global rules on taxation are designed.</p> <p>The battle became as much about the demand for systemic change and a shift in political governance to address the power imbalance as the creation of the body itself.</p> <p><strong>Developing countries lose around US$100bn in tax revenues each year</strong> as a result of corporate tax avoidance schemes that route investments through tax havens. This does not include the full set of tax avoidance schemes used by multinational companies nor the billions of dollars that corporations gain because of overly generous tax incentives.</p> <p>The global tax system is now designed to pit countries against each other in a race to the bottom on corporate taxation. Consequently, the offshore economy has been allowed to grow two-and-a-half times faster than global GDP from 2000-14.  But it is not only the poorest countries that lose out to corporate tax dodging; all citizens around the world are losing out. In 2012, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/still-broken-governments-must-do-more-fix-international-corporate-tax-system" rel="nofollow"><strong>US multinationals alone shifted $500–700bn</strong></a>, or roughly 25 percent of their annual profits, mostly to countries where these profits are not taxed, or taxed at very low rates. Among the biggest losers in the G20 are the US, UK, Germany, Japan, France, Mexico, India, and Spain.</p> <p><strong>All governments must take action</strong> to end the ‘race to the bottom’ that encourages developing countries to compete with each other to offer the lowest tax environment, driven by harmful and preferential tax regimes. This must include tackling the role of tax havens, for which there are currently no reform plans. In 1998, the OECD’s Harmful Tax Competition report proposed that ‘countries consider terminating their tax conventions with tax havens’. Unfortunately, OECD member countries that operate as tax havens, together with other powerful members, succeeded in blocking further progress on the report’s findings and recommendations.</p> <p>Putting a stop to the seemingly endless stream of corporate tax scandals is possible but it will require a new generation of more fundamental reforms than are on the table at the moment; and a rebalancing of power in global tax negotiations. The creation of a new global tax body that includes all governments on an equal footing would go a long way to redressing this balance and delivering deeper reforms that are so desperately needed for the benefit of all.</p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="http://oxf.am/Znzm" rel="nofollow"><strong>Join the global movement to #EndTaxHavens</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Share this story of how tax havens are robbing the poor in Malawi:</strong></p> <p></p> <p><em>This entry posted by Claire Godfrey, Oxfam Global Policy Lead, Even it Up Campaign, on 8 February 2016.</em></p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>SwissLeaks: Why Corporate Tax Scandals Won’t Go Away</h2></div> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:12:11 +0000 Claire Godfrey 37603 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-02-08-swissleaks-why-corporate-tax-scandals-wont-go-away#comments The movement to end tax havens is already 100,000 strong and growing http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-25-movement-end-tax-havens-already-100000-strong-and-growing <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Last week <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2016-01-18/62-people-own-same-half-world-reveals-oxfam-davos-report" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam revealed</strong></a> that 62 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people on the planet. Tax havens are at the heart of fueling this insane level of inequality. That’s why we’re taking them on and that’s why I want to do all I can in 2016 to put a stop to them.</p> <p><strong>Tax havens are about poverty.</strong> Tax havens conjure up images of yachts sailing into tropical islands. You wouldn’t normally associate them with the lives of people living in poverty. But they are part and parcel of the problem. When rich individuals or multinational corporations stash their wealth in tax havens, they can dodge paying their taxes in the countries where they do business and where they make their money. This in turn robs governments of vital funds which could be spent on free public services and infrastructure like schools, hospitals and roads.</p> <h3>Here are some headline figures:</h3> <ul><li>Developing countries lose between $100 – 200 billion a year due to corporate tax dodging. </li> <li>Almost a third of rich African’s wealth – a total of $500 billion – is held offshore in tax havens. It’s estimated that this costs African countries $14 billion a year in lost tax revenues, enough to employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.</li> </ul><p><img alt="Kyohairene, coffee farmer in Kenya. Photo: Oxfam" title="Kyohairene, coffee farmer in Kenya. Photo: Oxfam" height="407" width="300" style="width: 300px; height: 407px; float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/kyohairene-300.jpg" /><strong>These are startling numbers but what does it actually mean for people’s lives?</strong></p> <ul><li>Meet Morgan <em>(photo at top)</em>. He’s 5 years old and lives in a slum in Nairobi. His mother earns money by sorting through rubbish in a dump. Even though Kenya’s economy is the fastest growing in Africa, too few people aren’t seeing the benefit. Morgan can’t go to school as his family can’t afford it. </li> <li>Meet Kyohairene <em>(right)</em>. She’s a coffee farmer in Kenya. She pays her taxes. But she doesn’t have a decent road to transport and sell her coffee.</li> </ul><p><strong>Tax havens mean that money</strong> which could be spent on the very services that we know are crucial to tackling poverty and inequality are sucked out of countries and communities where these are most needed.</p> <p>Tax havens could seem like a scary thing to take on. They are created and run by people with money and power. How can we as campaigners take that on? By working together! Tax havens have been created by people. That means that people can un-create them, and put an end to their existence. As I write this 106,879 people have signed up to end the era of tax havens. That’s 106,817 more than the 62 billionaires. If this about people power, then we are already winning.</p> <h3>Here are a few things you can do to help us continue on the winning streak:</h3> <p><strong>Demand that leaders end the era of tax havens. <a href="http://oxf.am/Znzm" rel="nofollow">Sign the petition here</a>. </strong></p> <p><a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/two-sides-of-the-same-story" rel="nofollow"><strong>Share Morgan’s story</strong></a>. The more we can speak together about the impact of tax havens on poverty, the more hearts and minds we can move to join our movement.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Francesca Carnibella (<a href="https://twitter.com/frankcarnibella" rel="nofollow">@frankcarnibella</a>), Oxfam Global Inequality &amp; Tax Campaigner, on 25 January 2016.</em></p> <p><em>All photos: Oxfam.</em></p> <p><img alt="The 62 richest people in the world own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population." title="The 62 richest people in the world own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population." height="1000" width="1000" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/davos-graphics-en5-final_0.jpg" /></p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The movement to end tax havens is already 100,000 strong and growing</h2></div> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:44:43 +0000 Francesca Carnibella 36128 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-25-movement-end-tax-havens-already-100000-strong-and-growing#comments