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Tax justice – in it for the long haul

11 September 2014 | by Kit Powney

It’s been almost a year since the UK government announced they would create a public register of company owners that would give tax dodgers nowhere to hide.

It may feel like not much has happened since then. But your campaigning is making a huge difference.

Russian dolls

From lobbying your local MP to writing to MEPs, over the last year we've been making progress.

The new law was announced in the Queen's Speech in June, and the European Parliament have also endorsed the implementation of public registers.  
As with any new laws, all of this takes time. Let’s take a look and see where we’ve reached in the campaign for tax justice.

Fit for purpose 

The UK Government must fulfil their commitments to implement public registers.

While we welcome the UK’s commitment to implement the register, we do have a few concerns surrounding the content of the legislation.

For example, if the data is not accurately verified and updated, or the exemptions and sanctions are not tightly kept, then it could still allow companies to negotiate around the law and dodge their taxes.

A committee of MPs will be set up to discuss this between 14 October and 6 November.

When we know which MPs will be finalising these new laws, we’ll need your help to make sure these concerns are properly addressed.

Tax havens must follow UK lead

The UK must show leadership so that all countries, particularly our Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, will be compelled to follow.

Last November David Cameron urged UK tax havens - such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands - to follow the UK in their commitment to create a public register.

These territories promised to consult on the issue.

Many of these consultations have now happened and we are waiting for the outcomes to be published. Once we have heard what they plan to do, we will let you know.

Compulsory registers in Europe

The UK must call for all EU member states to set up public registries of company ownership as part of the EU anti-money laundering directive.

Many of you wrote to your MEPs in February this year and the EU Parliament voted in favour of the creation of public registers.

However, currently the EU Council does not want to make the public registers compulsory.

We are working through a Europe-wide coalition to push this process forward and will keep you posted.

What can you do?

We’ll soon be launching a new initiative looking into the tax practices of the people who provide services to towns and councils across the UK and how they impact poor countries.

If you want to stay in touch with our plans, sign up for campaign updates

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 About the author

Kit Powney

Kit Powney is Christian Aid's church campaigns assistant.