Tax transparency summit must deliver for world's poorest

8 December 2016

Without action on corruption, it will not be possible to end poverty

Tax abuses deprive developing countries of vital funds that could be used to lift people out of poverty. 

A Global Tax Transparency Summit is beginning today in London, bringing together parliamentarians from across the world to discuss how they can increase tax transparency and how to prevent tax avoidance.

The summit is being organised by the Public Accounts Committee, and sponsored by the five agencies which make up the British Overseas Aid Group – CAFOD, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and ActionAid.

Tax abuses deprive developing countries

Tax transparency is a key issue for CAFOD’s work, as tax avoidance and abuses deprive developing countries of vital revenues that could be used to combat poverty. In the UK and overseas we campaign and work with parliamentarians to boost tax transparency amongst multinational companies and within tax havens that fall under the UK’s jurisdiction.

We want participants at the summit to commit to urging their governments to introduce public country-by-country reporting for companies. Under current financial systems, companies can publish global or regional information in their annual reports. Country by country reporting would compel transnational companies to give a clear picture of their operations and earnings in each country. This is crucial for increased tax transparency, and so that citizens can understand what a company is doing in their country.

We also support public, central registers of beneficial ownership – which list who benefits from a company’s operations – and encourage parliamentarians to lobby for them too.

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Tax rules and developing countries

Tax transparency is crucial, but we also need further reforms to the global tax system. Developing countries should be given an equal say in the setting of global tax rules, which is not the case under the current system led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in which richer countries make the tax rules. Stronger rules to prevent the use of tax havens for tax avoidance are also needed.

The Global Tax Transparency Summit is an important opportunity for parliamentarians to discuss these issues. We hope the summit will offer practical measures to support developing countries in tackling tax avoidance, so that more of the tax revenues due to them can be spent lifting the world’s poorest people out of poverty.

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