27 January 2015 - Christian leaders have thrown their weight behind a new campaign for political parties to promise to act against tax avoidance if they get elected.
Leading voices from Methodist, Quaker, Anglican, Salvation Army and evangelical traditions have declared their support for the idea that a new law is needed to curb multinational tax avoidance in the UK and developing countries.
They are responding to a campaign calling on all political parties to pledge that if they win the coming UK election, then they will rapidly introduce a Tax Dodging Bill to Parliament.
The organisations behind the campaign include faith-based groups such as Christian Aid, Church Action on Poverty and the Church Urban Fund, Methodist Tax Justice Network, Quaker and Peace and Social Witness as well as Oxfam, ActionAid and the National Union of Students.
In their statement of support for the campaign, the Church leaders say: 'People matter more than profits but every year, billions of pounds are lost through corporate tax dodging. The law needs to change so that the loopholes which allow big corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax can be closed.
'The proposed legislation has been carefully constructed and seeks the best outcome for both the UK and developing countries. It is a matter of justice, and justice - like love for our neighbour - does not stop at national boundaries.'
The signatories of the statement are The Reverend Martin Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, Major Heather Poxon, Director of International Development at the Salvation Army, the Right Reverend Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby and The Reverend Joel Edwards, former International Director of the Micah Challenge.
The Church leaders' statement also urges all the UK's political parties to commit to introduce legislation within 100 days of the post-election parliament, 'to bring the law into line with people's expectations'.
More than eight in ten (85 per cent) of British adults regard tax avoidance by large companies as 'morally wrong, even if it is legal', according to a ComRes poll for Christian Aid in November 2014. Almost as many (78 per cent) told pollsters it was important to them that 'large UK companies pay their fair share of tax in developing countries in which they operate'.
The new campaign for an anti-Tax Dodging Bill estimates that well-crafted legislation could generate extra tax revenues of at least £3.6 billion a year for the UK Treasury - the equivalent of £600 for every household living below the poverty line. The campaign's new policy report also estimates that the proposed bill would generate billions more every year tax revenues for developing countries.
The proposed Tax Dodging Bill would make it harder for multinationals to dodge UK taxes, stop them from getting unjustified tax breaks, make the UK tax regime more transparent and ensure that UK tax rules don’t encourage British companies to avoid tax in developing countries.
More information about the campaign is available at: www.taxdodgingbill.org.uk
For more information please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950
Notes to editors:
1. This is the full text of the Church leaders' statement:
Paying tax reflects our commitment to the society in which we live and work. It also provides the funding for good social services and infrastructure. Spent well, taxes provide a common insurance and make society fairer and more secure. People matter more than profits but every year, billions of pounds are lost through corporate tax dodging. The law needs to change so that the loopholes which allow big corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax can be closed. The proposed legislation has been carefully constructed and seeks the best outcome for both the UK and developing countries. It is a matter of justice, and justice – like love for our neighbour – does not stop at national boundaries. We urge each of the UK’s political parties to make a commitment to introduce legislation within the first 100 days of the new parliament, to bring the law into line with people’s expectations. This is a moral issue. Financial arrangements that prevent the vulnerable from enjoying reasonable opportunity to reach their potential, that oppress the poor and powerless and that deal in deception undermine the common good and break the command to love your neighbour as yourself.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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
5. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
6. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk