It’s been a busy few weeks since we launched the campaign for a Tax Dodging Bill, and it seems like tax has never been a bigger political issue. Thanks to the pressure from campaigners and some huge scandals, politicians are already pledging to act – but there’s still a long way to go before all the parties support a Tax Dodging Bill to make tax fair.
HSBC's tax scandal
If you’ve seen the news recently you’d be hard pressed to have missed the scandal over HSBC’s Swiss division helping rich clients dodge tax. While the political wrangling over who knew what, when continues, the revelation that one of the world’s largest banks helped clients dodge tax all over the world - including in many of the world's poorest countries – has catapulted tax back to the top of the agenda.
In the UK, one big question has been around the fact that only one of the 6,800 people with UK-linked accounts had been prosecuted, leading some to question whether the cuts to the UK’s tax authorities staff and resources are to blame. Stopping future cuts to HM Revenue and Customs’ budget is just one part of what our Tax Dodging Bill would do to bring in billions of pounds to fight poverty in the UK and the world’s poorer countries.
Thousands of you are demanding change
The Tax Dodging Bill campaign has also been piling up the pressure on politicians. Already over 40,000 people have signed the petition and thousands of people have emailed their local election candidates. Politicians are already feeling the heat – some candidates have said they have had more people contact them about tax dodging than any other issue.
ActionAid has also released our estimate for what a Tax Dodging Bill could do for people in the world’s poorer countries. According to our assessment, a well-crafted Tax Dodging Bill could curb tax dodging by UK companies, which is currently costing poorer countries £3 billion a year. To put that in context, that’s enough to pay for half the children in the world who currently don’t go to primary school to get an education.
Politicians promise action on tax dodging
Between the scandals in the media and the pressure from campaigners, the political parties are all now keen to be seen to be getting tough on tax dodgers. After the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats set out how many billions they aim to recover from tackling tax dodging, Labour announced last week that they would make tackling tax dodging a major priority for their first budget. While they didn’t commit to everything we are calling for in the Tax Dodging Bill, this is a big step forwards from the main parties of Westminster.
Meanwhile the Green Party and the SDLP have given their full support to a Tax Dodging Bill, and MPs from across the political spectrum spoke out in a parliamentary debate on the need for more action to tackle tax dodging.
The election is on the horizon; we need your help
The political momentum is growing, and we’ve come a long way in the short few weeks since the campaign launched, but we still need to go much further if we are to make tax fair, and recover billions of pounds to fight poverty.
We need to keep the pressure up and tell politicians of all parties that they need to do more to tackle tax dodging, and that they need to back the Tax Dodging Bill before the general election in May.