8/10 Brits want next government to tackle tax avoidance | ActionAid UK

Juan Leahy

Communications team

Corporate tax avoidance - big companies artificially lowering their tax bills - deprives the world’s poorest countries of the money they need to tackle poverty. With campaigning for the General Election in full swing, tax dodging is shaping up to be a key issue. New ActionAid research has revealed that more than 8 in 10 of people in the UK want to see the next UK government clamp down on tax havens and corporate tax avoidance.

 8 in 10 British people want the next government to tackle tax avoidance.
8 in 10 British people want the next government to tackle tax avoidance.

How does tax avoidance affect developing countries? 

Developing countries are estimated to lose a staggering $200 billion a year to corporate tax avoidance. That is money which could be invested in schools and hospitals. Instead it’s being siphoned away into tax havens - meaning the poorest women and girls are unable to access healthcare and education, because big companies are not paying their fair share.

Most people in the UK believe tax avoidance is morally wrong

Our new research found that nine out of ten UK adults believe tax avoidance by large companies is morally wrong, even if it is legal.

The General Election on June 8th means we will see a new government take power. What do the public think they should do? We asked in a Comres poll, and this is what you said. 

84% of people back making UK-linked tax havens more transparent

The UK’s Overseas Territories — far flung islands such as Bermuda, the Caymans and the British Virgin Islands — hold the promise of sun, sea and sandy beaches. But their allure goes much further: a twin offer of financial secrecy and rock bottom tax rates is attracting a clientele featuring some of the world’s biggest companies.

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And it’s the world’s poorest countries that suffer the most when big business shifts profits offshore in the name of ‘tax efficiency’. Every year billions of dollars of investment in countries like Nigeria and Indonesia is routed via tax havens. These countries are those that can least afford to lose tax revenue.

UK-linked tax havens are some of the worst offenders - more than half of the firms named in the Panama Papers leak were registered in the British Virgin Islands.

ActionAid is calling for all parties to commit to ensuring all UK-linked tax havens create a public register revealing the real owners of the firms they host. Seeing who is stashing their cash in tax havens is the first step to tackling tax havens.

83% of people say British companies should publish how much tax they pay in every country where they do business

UK companies have been caught shifting their profits out of poor countries in order to lower their tax bills. But it’s incredibly hard work to uncover - especially for people in developing countries. It shouldn’t be like that. 

UK-linked tax havens are some of the worst offenders - more than half of the firms named in the Panama Papers leak were registered in the British Virgin Islands.

After a recent change to the law the government now has the power to demand companies publicly reveal how much tax they pay in every country where they do business, including in tax havens and in the world’s poorest places. But it hasn’t used that power. Yet.

It’s time to shine a light into the dark corners of corporate finances. After the election the new government should make use of this power to provide a huge boost to transparency. If we can see where companies are paying tax and how much they are paying, we’ll be able to see who is paying their fair share and who isn’t.

Endless corporate scandals mean tax avoidance is a key election issue for millions of people across the UK.

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What should politicians do to tackle tax avoidance?

Tough action on tax avoidance should be a top priority for all parties. It’s hugely popular with voters and could help to build a fairer global tax system.

Endless corporate scandals mean tax avoidance is a key election issue for millions of people across the UK.

The world is changing rapidly at the moment. Whoever emerges victorious on June 8th has a chance to chart a new course for the UK and champion tax justice. 

Cleaning up UK-linked tax havens, increasing corporate transparency and reforming unfair tax rules would be a good place to start.

Share this blog to show you support all parties taking action on tax avoidance.

Photo credits: Tom Saater/ActionAid