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Responding to the release of the Tax Working Group’s final report, Oxfam New Zealand’s executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said:
“Oxfam New Zealand welcomes the Tax Working Group’s efforts to examine our tax system to make sure it treats everyone fairly. It is time the New Zealand government fully used one of our most powerful tools for reducing inequality – our tax system. The recommendations from the Tax Working Group for a capital gains tax start this important work.
Last year, the Paradise Papers laid bare the extent to which multinationals and extremely wealthy individuals exploit a broken global system. This system allows them to avoid paying their fair share of tax which contributes to poverty and inequality around the world. One year on, it is clear we still need to do more.
A lack of tax transparency allows multinational corporations to unfairly avoid paying billions in tax. That’s less revenue for vital public services and infrastructure. Last month we revealed shocking new evidence that four big drug companies - Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Abbott and Merck & Co. (also known as MSD)* appear to be using offshore tax havens to avoid paying billions of dollars in tax. NZ$21 million to be precise, just here in New Zealand.
Last week, we revealed that it looks like New Zealand is losing $21 million a year to unfair tax avoidance by four big pharmaceutical companies – Abbott, Merck & Co. (also known as MSD), Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. Some of you may have seen comments about the way we conducted the research – our methodology. We’ve got a great blog about the methodology from our American colleagues who led the research. But we want to take a slightly different angle, because the comments about our method actually support what we are saying – that if we want an accurate picture of what companies earn and owe we need more publicly available information so that we can use more robust information.
When we at Oxfam set out to estimate the size and scope of the tax dodging by some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies for our new report, Prescription for Poverty, we had no idea it would take two years of painstaking research. Yet, because of pervasive secrecy in the tax system, we had to spend months working with local researchers to uncover even the most basic financial information about the company’s operations in countries around the world.
The world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies who are behind some of New Zealand’s most trusted brands – including Neutrogena, BAND-AID, Johnson’s Baby and Chap Stick - appear to be unfairly avoiding an estimated NZ$21million in tax per year in New Zealand, reveals new research from Oxfam today.