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Enough food for everyone IF… we can put an end to tax dodging

April 22, 2013
We know that aid saves lives every day of the week (congratulations on IF’s success on aid!) – but we know aid  alone is not enough to end poverty and hunger once and for all. Poor countries need to increase their tax revenues, but multinationals who avoid their bills make this much harder. At a recent Just Share talk I attended, a Christian Aid representative described how tax dodging was costing poor countries significantly more than they receive in aid. Tax revenues are the most important, sustainable and predictable source of finance for development. If a government is reliant on taxpayers, that government should be more accountable to the people for its actions.
I used to work for a large international professional services firm. Much of their revenue came from helping High Net Worth individuals and corporations reduce their tax liabilities by making the most of loopholes in tax law and by using transfer pricing and tax havens. This is not illegal, just unquestionably unethical.
What do you think about tax? Do you begrudge that deduction from your wages before the cash even reaches your bank account? Do you wish that the things you buy (eg beer, petrol, clothes) were not made even more expensive by tax?
Take a moment now to think about what the tax you, and businesses, pay is spent on. When I started volunteering as a debt and benefits adviser, and spent a few days in an NHS hospital, I started to understand more fully the value of tax and the impact it can have on society – raising revenue to fund public services, redistributing wealth and reducing inequality. Paying our taxes and campaigning for the reduction in global tax avoidance is a very practical way we can love our neighbours, wherever they live.  Don’t begrudge paying your taxes! Instead pray and act to ensure they are used to the best effect.
You can read this article for more about the benefits of effective taxation and this for a Bible study on tax and for a link to Christian Aid’s theology of tax.
As an auditor I know first-hand the difficulty of analysing the tax figures included within a set of financial statements, let alone for a non-specialist to understand what these figures say about how much tax is paid and where. Next month we will be considering: Enough food for everyone IF – Transparency.
Take a few moments to  look at the this month’s links to see what you can do about tax.
Lydia Groenewald   
This month’s links
·     Take more interest in the tax affairs of the companies you buy from or invest in
·     Confused by tax, finance and austerity? Join this reading group and find out more.
·      Support organisations that are campaigning for tax justice. These include War on Want,
      Tax Justice NetworkChristian AidAction Aid and many more.
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