We can feel the momentum for the Tax Justice campaign growing every week. Next up we have a meeting of UK tax havens in London on 26th-27th November, where we could finally see the fulfilment of a promise made back in June… could this be the stage for another big leap forward?
The story so far
Before the G8, David Cameron held a meeting with ten UK tax havens, places such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Isle of Man.
We call them ‘tax havens’ because right now they allow big business to hide tax money from many of the world’s poorest countries – money that’s desperately needed for schools and hospitals.
At the meeting they agreed to sign up to an existing international treaty called the ‘Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters’. It’s quite a mouthful, but basically it’s a deal to share information about hidden money and take the first step to ending the secrecy that lets multinational companies dodge their taxes.
What do we want now?
Well, I said they “agreed” to sign up. They haven’t actually done it yet. So we’ve been pushing hard behind the scenes to make sure this happens, while thousands of you have added your voice to our petition calling for David Cameron to sort out shady tax havens.
Signing this convention would be a positive step forwards, but these UK territories need to make a lot more progress to get rid of their ‘tax haven’ label.
Despite some of David Cameron’s musings, the fact is that UK tax havens are still being used by dodgy companies who want to avoid paying their fair share in some of the world’s poorest countries. We still need to see much greater transparency from UK tax havens (making company accounts public for a start), but they’ve also got to reform their harmful tax rules and loopholes.
We’ve already seen another promise from the G8 fulfilled: the government announced recently that the UK will be making public a registry of the real ownership of companies. This was an important victory. We need this winning streak to continue and for all the UK tax havens to follow suit.
Our government is responsible for 1 in 5 world’s tax havens, so they must finish the job they’ve started. We can’t let David Cameron relax on tax havens!