Starbucks, Google, Amazon, Apple, Tesco, Vodaphone… I’m sure you’re all familiar with these companies. But what do they have in common? Well in recent weeks they’ve all been in the media spotlight accused of less than admirable tax-dodging activities.
On the most basic level, companies who use our infrastructure and resources ought to pay their fair share of taxes. At the moment, this is not the case. Small, independent businesses often pay more taxes, therefore contributing more to our society than big, multinational corporations like those mentioned above.
In simple terms, tax evasion is illegal, and people have gone to jail over it. And yet, tax avoidance (also known as ‘tax dodging’) is completely legal. Tax is not seen as an obligation to society, but as a cost to businesses.
More than being solely social or economic, this is a moral issue.
The Tax Dodging Bill – what is it?
Tax dodging is possible because the legislations currently in place have loopholes and blind-spots purposefully implanted by policy makers.
The new tax dodging bill has been created by a coalition of UK charities, which are calling for all political parties to pledge to introduce it within the first 100 days after the election. Its aim is to tackle corporate tax dodging in the UK and in developing countries, and to make sure that the additional revenue raised is used to fight poverty.
This would be simultaneously good for the economy and good for society, both of which are cheated out of billions of pounds. If it’s passed, a minimum of £3.6 billion per year would be saved.
The important thing to remember is that whilst this is ambitious, it is an achievable goal. No-one is calling for a boycott of the corporations involved, as they, and the associated problem of tax dodging, are far too ingrained into our society and consumer ways for boycotts to be successful; the willpower needed to deal with the disruption it would cause to our lives is too great.
More than this, a boycott would ignore the crux of the problem: it’s the system which allows corporations to dodge their moral duty that needs changing, not just the practices of individual companies.
The general elections are fast approaching, with May 7th only months away. Right now, prospective parliamentary candidates who want to be elected are actually listening to us. They want to know what is important to us, and as a student and part of the ‘young adult’ demographic we hold significant influence over their manifestos. In the wise words of Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great responsibility”.
85% of the British public agree that tax dodging is unfair. All political parties need to commit to do more and better represent these people – the people who hold the power to elect them.
You. Have. A. Voice. Regardless of your political affiliation, ideological values, religious beliefs, or personal preferences this is an issue that affects you and everything around you.
What can I do?
Do you have 5 minutes?
– Type ‘Tax scandal’ into Google and marvel at the corruption of our corporate tax system.
– Genuinely consider the benefits this bill could bring to our society and our economy.
– Think about voting. If you are abstaining, why? Make sure your decisions are backed up with solid arguments, as this is not the time for laziness or indifference, but for a change that WE are a part of.
All of the above and…
– Take a look at www.taxdodgingbill.org.uk
– Email your local parliamentary candidates (you can find them by clicking on the link above)
– Express your support by telling five people about this bill
All of the above and…
– Think of a way to attract attention to the campaign at your university
– Contact Oxfam, Action Aid or any of the other charities in your area to find out about local events.
For any of the above amounts of time:
Imagine an extra £3.6 billion being pumped into our economy every year.
Image courtesy of expresso.pt via acivilamericandebate.com