Governments must take five immediate steps to stop corporations and the super-rich cheating poor countries out of over $170 billion in tax revenues every year, said Oxfam today in the wake of the Paradise Papers leak.
Oxfam’s new briefing paper, ‘Stopping the Scandals,’ assesses why international tax reforms have failed. It offers solutions to the Paradise Papers scandal, which exposes tax avoidance on an industrial scale, and a new study by economist Gabriel Zucman. Zucman estimates that multinational companies artificially shift almost half of their total profits – 45 percent – to tax havens.
Tax avoidance is fuelling an inequality crisis where just eight men now own the same wealth as half the world. When corporations and the super-rich avoid taxes, it is ordinary people, and especially the poorest, who pay the price as governments balance the budget by raising their taxes and cutting vital public services.
Poor countries are particularly hard hit by corporate tax avoidance as they are twice as dependent on corporate tax revenues as rich countries. Of the $170 billion poor countries lose in tax revenues every year, $100 billion is through corporate tax avoidance. This money could provide an education for 124 million children and pay for healthcare services that could prevent the deaths of at least six million children annually.
Rachael Le Mesurier, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, said:
“The Panama Papers galvanised politicians to act, but the Paradise Papers show they have much more to do. The super-rich and corporations, such as Apple and Nike, aided and abetted by tax havens and offshore companies like Appleby, will always be one step ahead of the game unless governments make fundamental changes to the tax system.
“Stopping the tax scandals won’t be easy but it is not impossible if the political will is there. Oxfam’s five-point plan shows how governments can stop the tax scandals if they put the interests of the public over the demands of the super-rich and big businesses.”
Oxfam’s 5-point plan to stop the scandals calls on governments to:
1. Agree on a global blacklist of tax havens based on comprehensive, objective criteria and implement strong counter-measures, including sanctions, to limit their use.
2. End corporate tax secrecy by ensuring all multinational companies make financial reports publicly available for every country where they operate.
3. End tax secrecy for the super-rich by establishing a centralised public register of the individuals who own and benefit from shell companies, trusts and foundations, and make it publicly available.
4. Rebalance tax deals by making sure tax treaties do not exploit developing countries' tax bases.
5. Create a global tax body where all countries can work together on an equal footing to agree on the fundamental tax reforms that are needed to ensure the tax system works for everyone.
Tax dodging costs developing countries $170 billion a year - $70 billion through tax dodging by super-rich individuals (http://gabriel-zucman.eu/hidden-wealth/), and $100 billion through corporate tax dodging (http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2016_en.pdf).
$100 billion could provide an education for 124 million children and pay for healthcare services that could prevent the deaths of at least six million children annually. There are 124 million children out of school (http://uis.unesco.org/). The annual domestic financing gap to achieve universal education in low and low middle-income countries is $39 billion per year (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002321/232197E.pdf). $32 billion would fund the key healthcare to prevent the deaths of 6 million children each year (http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(13)62231-X.pdf).