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Use and abuse of tax breaks: how tax incentives become harmful

Taxation is essential to raise sufficient, equitable and accountable financing for development. Only through taxation can governments fund public spending on the essential services at the quality and scale necessary to realise the rights of all citizens. Yet many Southern governments decide not to tax certain corporations and companies in the hope that this will attract cross-border investment. Despite mounting evidence that the practice of offering tax incentives is both largely ineffective and detrimental to development, it is widespread. This report explains how tax incentives can become harmful, and discusses what can be done to stop their abuse.

Questionable Values? Policy Report

Why we believe that it is time to stop defending the indefensible across all the world’s tax havens. Following the hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated a number of Caribbean islands in September this year, the focus has rightly been on supporting the hardest hit and those in greatest need. But as the rebuilding effort develops, many are starting to think more deeply about the long-term sustainability of these islands’ economies, and their ability to protect and provide for their populations in an economically and climatically uncertain future. What type of jobs, and what type of economy, should places such as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) be looking to build? This is a question that extends beyond the storm-hit Caribbean. Defensive measures against tax evasion and avoidance are on the rise in the US, the EU and emerging economies, driven in part by the exposure of these activities in successive leaks of information (most recently, the Paradise Papers). Such developments call into question the sustainability of any economic model that relies on providing various combinations of secrecy and low taxation. So far, many small offshore centres, and their supporters, have largely reacted defensively to the threat of change, arguing that media coverage has unfairly maligned ‘tax havens’; that the problem is not as large as portrayed; and that they are already instituting tax and transparency standards better than many large ‘onshore’ economies. However, careful scrutiny of one of the most comprehensive efforts to explain the role of international finance centres and to illustrate the impact that such a territory has on the global economy – the prominent report that the government-backed financial lobby group, BVI Finance, commissioned this year from consultancy firm Capital Economics – demonstrates major weaknesses in the arguments and conclusions presented, and suggests to us that such defences are more concerned with maintaining the status quo than a genuine concern for the wider global economy. Our analysis of the Capital Economics report is an example of why we believe that it is time to stop defending the indefensible across all the world’s tax havens. With public demand building for new regulation, and the ever-present threat of further mass leaks, the UK Government needs to initiate a serious discussion about alternative economic pathways for the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Alternative futures for offshore tax havens are not only vital for the poorest countries of the world that lose tax revenues each year to the offshore system, but also for the ordinary women and men in places like the BVI, for whom a secure future is dependent on the creation of robust, equitable and sustainable economies.

The Scandal of Inequality 2 (Spanish)

Describe las diferentes caras de la desigualdad en America Latina y el Caribe

Voice to the people: research summary

This paper shares findings from a review of Christian Aid’s work using communications for development (C4D) approaches to strengthen the voice of programme participants and aid recipients in programme learning and communications. It draws on documentation and interviews with Christian Aid staff and consultants involved in the work, as well as some research with other development organisations, to explore how C4D can be more integrated into Christian Aid’s work to promote more direct communications from programmes.

Benefits? Tax Incentives in Latin America and the Caribbean (Spanish)

Overview of the use of tax incentives that analyses whether or not tax incentives bring benefits to countries and communities.(Spanish)

Developing Climate services in the Phillipines: programme review

A review of the Rice Watch Action Network's Climate Resiliency Field School (CrFS) - a season-long training programme with a focus on sustainable farm training, including increased access to weather and climate forecasts.

Management response to Power Learning Review

Recommendations and actions as a follow up to the Power Learning Review.

Christian Aid Afghanistan - working together for gender equality

CAID’s programme in Afghanistan has been running for nearly three decades under four regimes – from the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which controlled the country during the Soviet invasion, to the current government that was voted in after the United States-led intervention of 2001. Today, our work in Afghanistan focuses on protecting human rights during conflicts, increasing food security, building the resilience of communities, and promoting the rights and empowerment of women. 

Leave no one behind - from goals to implementation

In this report, we seek to illustrate the importance of the ‘leave no one behind’ principle with case studies from across the world.The 'leave no one behind' concept has emerged as a specific call-to-action within the post-2015 development agenda. 

Ghana inclusive market development - case study

When poor communities are asked what they see as their best escape route from poverty, jobs and economic opportunities are central to their response.

Final evaluation of the LEARN project - Ghana

Action for Local Employment, Accountability and Resource Mobilisation (LEARN) was an EU-funded project in Ghana implemented by Christian Aid and its partners.The overall objective was to support actions aimed at promoting an inclusive and empowered Ghana.Action for Local Employment, Accountability and Resource Mobilisation (LEARN) was an EU-funded project in Ghana by Christian Aid and its partners.This report presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the project’s final evaluation.