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Christian Aid pushes for tax justice in war on poverty

Christian Aid is urging supporters to recruit their local MPs in a bid to bring tax justice to developing countries.

The charity has launched an on-line campaign to encourage supporters to email their local MPs asking them, in turn, to lobby Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the need for an end to off-shore banking secrecy.

At present, multinational companies reduce their tax liabilities in poorer countries that lack the resources and expertise to challenge them.

Profits are artificially depressed, with the true amounts hidden in off-shore accounts to reduce tax liabilities as far as possible.

‘Whether you’re at home, in your office lunch break or down at the local internet café, go to www.christianaid.org.uk/tax and send your email. It will take a couple of minutes and could change the world,’ says Matthew Sowemimo, Christian Aid’s tax campaign officer.

‘We are asking supporters to get their MPs involved. When an MP writes to the Prime Minister, he or she has to receive a personal reply. We are confident that a lot of MPs will support this and that Gordon Brown will be shown the strong support that exists for real reform.’

Christian Aid estimates that every year, aggressive tax avoidance, and tax evasion, deprives the developing world of at least US$160bn in lost corporate tax.

Such an amount, if used according to current spending patterns, could save the lives of 350,000 children under the age of five a year.

The campaign calls for new rules to be introduced that would force multinational companies to reveal the profits made and the taxes paid in every country where they operate.

The aim is to persuade Gordon Brown to take this message to the G20 and encourage other world leaders to press for country by country reporting.

To join the campaign, please go to www.christianaid.org.uk/tax

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For more press information, please contact Gillian Sandford on 07912 407692 or email gsandford@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

  1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in more than 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

  2. The figure of US$160bn in lost tax revenue is based on research by Raymond Baker, a senior fellow at the US Center for International Policy. Based on extensive interviews with heads of trading companies in multiple countries, he arrives at a ‘conservative estimate’ that 7 per cent of developing countries' trade volume is in fact only the movement of illicit capital - by false invoicing between unrelated parties and by abusive transfer pricing within multinational companies. Both activities involve businesses artificially reducing their declared profits. Christian Aid then estimated the loss of corporate tax revenues for developing countries, based on these estimated reductions in declared profit. Baker’s figures are quoted widely by the World Bank.

  3. Christian Aid has embarked on a joint campaign with ActionAid on tax and development.