The New Zealand Government has a huge opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the global stage in reforming the world's rigged and unjust global tax system, Oxfam said today.
“The Paradise Papers have laid bare the extent to which multinationals and extremely wealthy individuals continue to exploit a broken global system that allows them to avoid paying their fair share of tax.” said Rachael Le Mesurier, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand.
“It’s time for the world’s political leaders to put the interests of the public – who are paying their fair share of taxes - over those of corporates and the super-rich and put a stop to tax scandals like this, once and for all,” she said.
“Tax avoidance fuels poverty and inequality everywhere. When the super-rich and corporations such as Apple and Nike avoid taxes, ordinary people - and particularly the poorest - pay the price as governments, especially in developing nations, increase their taxes or cut funding for vital public services.
“Tax cheats are robbing governments in the poorest countries of much-needed funding for clean water, education and healthcare. Corporate tax avoidance alone costs poor countries at least $100 billion every year - enough money to provide an education for 124 million children and prevent the deaths of at least six million children.
“When it comes to tax it is still one rule for the super-rich and another for everyone else,” said Le Mesurier. “This is unacceptable in a system that funnels tax revenue away from where it is needed most in developing nations - where many of these multi-nationals earn revenue.”
Oxfam is calling on the New Zealand Government to be part of a global solution for greater tax transparency and close the loopholes that allow companies and the super-rich to avoid tax.
Le Mesurier said Oxfam welcomes Labour’s commitment to establish a Tax Working Group and the opportunity it provides New Zealand to demonstrate leadership on a global scale in reforming the world's broken tax system. Oxfam urges that the terms of reference for the group include NZ joining the global momentum for greater tax transparency.
“New Zealand has a real opportunity here to work with other political leaders and shut down tax havens by establishing a global tax haven blacklist; end tax secrecy so that it's clear if corporations and the super-rich pay their fair share of tax; and kick start a new round of tax reforms that rebuild the tax system in the interests of the majority and not the few.
“Tax transparency is an essential step in fighting global tax avoidance. We need multinationals to publish their profits, taxes and assets for every country in which they operate. Making this information public would mean we don’t have to rely on leaks and scandals to find out if companies are paying their fair share.
“It’s time for global corporations to clean up their act. Until real action is taken, the super-wealthy and big companies will continue to shirk paying their fair share of taxes – and ordinary people and the world’s poorest pay the price.
For more information, or to organise an interview, contact Lucy Grogan, Media and Communications Manager at Oxfam New Zealand on 021 88 11 62 or (09) 355 7413