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UK breakthrough will push multinationals to play fairer on tax

Tuesday 6 September 2016 - The UK has taken a significant step towards greater transparency and tax justice both at home and in poorer nations, after MPs last night changed the law.

“This is a decisive breakthrough against multinational tax dodgers that are robbing people in developing countries of health and education services,” said Simon Kirkland, Senior Parliamentary Adviser at Christian Aid.

“It should trigger serious reflection at Apple and the many other firms like it, where tax arrangements may be legal but they are very far from what most people would regard as fair and decent.”

Christian Aid hailed the determined efforts of hundreds of MPs from all the UK’s major parties, led by Caroline Flint MP. Their persistent support for the measure led to the breakthrough, at the end of a debate in which Apple’s tax affairs featured heavily.

The reform gives the government the power to quickly require multinationals to publicly reveal details of their finances across the world – a move which could expose damaging evidence of tax dodging.

Mr Kirkland added: “The UK Government should now use this power as soon as possible, to usher in badly-needed transparency around multinationals.

“Doing so would help countries around the world to catch up with companies that are currently using highly aggressive and contrived methods to slash their tax bills.

“The UK’s public services are suffering because multinationals are dodging tax and the situation is worse in developing countries, which have a terrible struggle to get companies to pay their fair share.

“Lack of revenue is leaving sick children, men and women without life-saving treatment. It’s leaving children without basic education. It means police forces that are too weak to enforce the law.

“As Caroline Flint MP stated during the debate in Parliament: ‘If developing countries got their fair share of tax, it would vastly outstrip what is currently available through aid. The lack of tax transparency is one of the major stumbling blocks to their self-sufficiency.’”

Simon Kirkland added: “MPs’ breakthrough last night will help to push multinationals towards becoming better citizens that contribute their fair share.”

The Finance Bill amendment passed last night gives the government the power to publish multinationals’ country-by-country reports, which they currently provide privately to the UK tax authority, HMRC.

Mr Kirkland said: “Years of work by campaigners for tax justice definitely played a part in persuading MPs to support it and the Government to accept it.

“There is massive public support for multinationals to have to reveal more about their global finances. Furthermore, few companies have come out against public country-by-country reporting. Ministers have no reason to delay using their new power.”

For more information please contact Rachel Baird on rbaird@christian-aid.org  24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950  


Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. 

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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