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Public register success shines spotlight on tax dodgers

31 October 2013 | by Luke Harman 

From travelling around the UK on a bus, dressing up as George Osborne and campaigning outside FTSE 100 companies’ offices to meeting my MP, I’ve been involved in some weird and wonderful initiatives as part of our tax justice campaign. 

But none have been as captivating as the recent efforts to crack down on phantom firms.

What are phantom firms?

Phantom firms are like Russian dolls; their core ownership is disguised. That secrecy enables anonymous companies to dodge tax, safe in the knowledge that even the police will find it very difficult to trace them.

This causes harm worldwide, especially in poor countries, which lose billions every year to tax dodging.

Your outstanding support

In the last few months, more than 17,000 of you have signed the ‘Russian doll’ action and inputted directly into the government consultation, while we’ve taken our very own inflatable Russian doll businessmen to the conferences of the main political parties.

Yesterday, Twickenham constituent Mary Ricketts handed in these 17,000 signatures to Secretary of State, Vince Cable MP outside his London office.

Christian Aid campaigners with Vince Cable MP

Today we can celebrate because the government has announced it will crack down on phantom firms by making a public register of exactly who owns what in the UK.

The next step to tax justice

In addition to the direct benefits in the fight against tax dodging, the UK’s public register sets an example to countries around the world that have been monitoring the government’s response.

Here in the UK, we’ve made a great start. But we still need to see this new standard extended to cover the overseas territories and crown dependencies, and to be adopted across Europe.

Together, we can make change happen

This is a great achievement that would not have happened without the thousands of Christian Aid supporters involved up and down the country.

While there is plenty more to do, for today at least we should celebrate our achievements and remind ourselves that together we can make change happen.

Tomorrow we’ll continue the fight for tax justice, with hope in our hearts.

Spread the word

Please continue to spread the word - use our tax campaign resources to tell your church and community groups about our fight for tax justice. 

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 About the author

Luke Harman

Luke Harman is Christian Aid's churches campaigns officer.