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Dispelling the myths of $160bn

By Alasdair Roxburgh | 1 July 2011

Three years ago Christian Aid published a report called Death and Taxes in which we estimated that tax dodging by some companies working internationally costs the developing world $160bn each year.

It's an astonishing fact which we have used widely in our work and that the media has also picked up on regularly in the past three years.

The success of this $160bn fact has meant that lots of people now talk about it which is fantastic! Not everyone agrees with us of course, and some have gone to some lengths to refute our research. But there is now a growing consensus that while we can't be certain on the exact figure, the number is bigger than developing countries receive in aid – and certainly big enough to start doing something about the problem of poverty.

Our figure is often misrepresented and we want to set the record straight.

So here are the facts:

  • The figure does not refer to any specific companies, individuals or groups.
  • The figure focuses on two specific forms of tax dodging that companies might be involved in – transfer mispricing and false invoicing. 
  • $160bn is an estimation as to the potential cost of tax dodging in developing countries by some unscrupulous companies which work internationally.

In recent days the $160bn figure has been quoted alongside comments about U2's tax activities - we should make it clear that this figure has no connection to them. What it does show is that tax dodging is causing poor countries to miss out on much-needed revenue. To end this we need all those who care about poverty to work together to end tax dodging in the developing world.

 About the author

Alasdair Roxburgh

Alasdair Roxburgh is our churches campaigns manager

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