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Talking the talk

26 June 2013 | by Luke Harman

Last week the G8 agreed to support developing countries in collecting the taxes they are owed. We celebrate their ambition. Now we must keep up the pressure on politicians to turn these words into action.

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Walking the walk?

After all the feel-good sound bites from the G8, we haven’t had to wait long for the reality to become apparent.

Just days after the G8 set out its bold ambition, a UK parliamentary committee has quashed a key piece of legislation that would have made the task of tackling tax dodging in poor countries much easier.

The Finance Bill Committee – which passes the UK budget into law - voted against an amendment that would have required UK-based multinationals to report any use of tax avoidance schemes likely to have an impact on developing countries.

This would have helped developing countries collect taxes they are rightfully owed.

Government failure

Our senior political adviser, Barry Johnston, summarised the failure of the UK government: 'The aim was that when notified of such tax schemes, the UK would use its powers (under already existing treaties) to notify the developing countries involved, and help them recover the tax they are due.

'Instead, a relatively simple rule change has fallen at the first fence. So much for the lofty sentiments expressed at the G8 about restoring confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the international tax system. It’s simply business as usual.'

Your support can make a difference

But we shouldn’t lose hope. We may have lost this particular battle but we will continue to push the UK government to ensure that UK companies are more transparent about their tax arrangements in developing countries.

The pressure you brought to bear on the UK government has put tax near the top of the political agenda in a way we could only have dreamed of 12 months ago.

Your support is now crucial in turning political rhetoric into real action that brings tax justice to the world’s poor.

Get involved

Email David Cameron and make sure the government keeps to its promises so that tax dodgers have nowhere to hide.

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 About the author

Luke Harman

Luke Harman is Christian Aid's churches campaigns officer.