Three cheers for tax justice! | ActionAid UK

Three cheers for tax justice!

Caroline Jones

Campaign Officer

The Tax Justice Campaign has celebrated some incredible wins over the past few weeks and we wanted to share them with you, the people who made them happen.

ActionAid/Enough Food IF tax haven stunt on the London southbank this June

Campaign win at the G20

The meeting of the G20 in Russia this month brought fantastic news for the unstoppable global movement for tax justice, with leaders setting a timeframe to begin automatically sharing information on income stashed to avoid paying taxes. This will make it easier for developing countries to track and collect the taxes that are rightly theirs.

This is a crucial first step and one to celebrate, particularly as this is one of the big changes the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF…’ coalition was pushing for earlier this year. We’re still worried that if the poorest countries don’t have the capacity to collect and share their own tax information, they will be left out of the sharing process. We’ll be fighting for information to be passed on whether countries can reciprocate or not.

The leaders G20 also agreed a major review of international tax rules for multinationals. This has huge potential to fix some of the biggest problems over the next couple of years, but at the moment the poorest countries will have little say in the negotiations. We’ll continue to push for a good result for all countries.    

Netherlands review unfair tax treaties

In July, Mongolia took the rare step of cancelling its unfair tax treaty with the Netherlands, prompting the Dutch government to announce a review of 23 of its tax treaties with developing countries. They also committed to adding in measures to help prevent tax fraud, and to pass on information to tax inspectors in least-developed countries when multinationals request preferential tax deals.

Recent ActionAid research into SABMiller & Associated British Foods (ABF) showed how ‘mailbox’ companies registered in the Netherlands drained tax revenues out of developing countries, prompting discussion in Dutch Parliament. Less than six months after our report on ABF was published highlighting tax dodging in Zambia, the Dutch government commissioned a report which, for the first time, agreed that developing countries miss out on substantial tax revenues because of favourable tax treaties with the Netherlands. And guess what – the first treaty they will review is the treaty with Zambia.

A major tax haven like the Netherlands acknowledging that tax havens cripple development and taking steps to reduce tax dodging is a triumph for tax justice campaigners, showing that our campaigning is making real change for the poorest.

UK declare action on companies hiding their tax haven operations

Since 2011, we’ve been highlighting that many of the biggest UK companies are not complying with their legal duty to publish a full list of their operations in tax havens. Most recently in 2012 ActionAid revealed that 1 in 10 British companies on the FTSE 100 failed to disclose foreign subsidiaries, amounting to over 1,000 hidden companies.

As a result, Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable announced a further investigation into compliance by the FTSE 350 and the findings, published last week, reveal systemic and widespread failure to meet legal requirements to declare all offshore subsidiaries.  The Minister has finally promised action to resolve the issue.

Thank you

We could never have imagined such progress even 12 months ago, and it’s really testament to your campaigning that we’ve come this far. We have some way to go, but I hope that seeing the difference concerted campaigning is having, provides you with some inspiration along the road to tax justice!