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85% of British adults say tax avoidance by large companies is morally wrong

1 December 2014 - More than four in five (85%) British adults say tax avoidance by large companies is morally wrong even if it’s legal, according to a new ComRes poll for Christian Aid and ActionAid.

The poll is published ahead of the government’s Autumn Statement, which is expected to include new measures against tax avoidance, including a ‘Google tax’.

The poll found that four in five Britons (80%) agree that large companies in the UK can avoid tax too easily.

People are also worried about tax avoidance in the world’s poorer countries. Four out of five British adults (78%) say it’s important to them that large companies pay their fair share of tax in developing countries and three-quarters (73%) say the next UK government should legislate to discourage UK companies from avoiding tax in these countries.

The poll was conducted in November by the research agency ComRes. It found that just one in five people (20%) believe political parties have gone far enough in their promises to tackle tax avoidance by large companies.

Anger about tax avoidance was shared across supporters of all parties. Of people who expressed a voting intention, 85% of LibDem and UKIP supporters, 88% of Labour supporters and 90% of Conservative supporters all agreeing that tax avoidance is morally wrong even if it is legal.

Toby Quantrill, Principal Economic Justice Adviser at Christian Aid, said: “This poll clearly shows mass public opposition to tax avoidance by large companies, both in the UK and in developing countries. It doesn’t matter which political party people support – they all are saying the same thing: that politicians of all parties are still not doing enough to stop tax dodging.”

He added: “There is much more the UK could do to reduce the problem of tax dodging by multinationals. It should make good on commitments to create a public registry of company owners and ensure that the UK-controlled tax havens (the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies) follow this lead. We can also get ahead of the game globally by ensuring that UK companies are required to report separately on their economic activities in every country in which they operate, so as to reveal any artificial operations that may be used to reduce their global tax bills.”

ActionAid Tax Policy Adviser Diarmid O’Sullivan said:  “It is not just the UK that is affected by tax avoidance. The world’s poorest countries lose billions of dollars a year to tax dodging. This is money that could otherwise be used to pay for schools, hospitals and other essential public services.

“That’s why we are encouraging politicians of all parties to move past halfway measures and promise strong and comprehensive action, ahead of the next election to put an end to tax dodging.”

For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:

Rachel Baird at Christian Aid on 00 44 (0)207 523 2446 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Richard Grange at ActionAid on 0203 122 0796 or richard.grange@actionaid.org

Methodology note: ComRes interviewed 2,052 British adults online between the 12th and 13th November 2014. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available at www.ComRes.co.uk

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 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 the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://actalliance.org

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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