Monday, May 11, 2009

We need a global tax plan

Another very excellent article in the Guardian, this time by David McNair, Senior Economic Justice Adviser at Christian Aid. It rightly notes that President Barack Obama's much publicised tax measures are, while welcome, addressing just one part of a much bigger global picture. As McNair says, in another article well worth reading in full:

"All well and good, but if the US does not seek to engage other jurisdictions in a truly global agreement to clamp down on tax dodging, these measures will have little impact where the activities of the tax dodgers cause the greatest suffering – the world's poorest countries."

and he gives us a reminder of something that should, but perhaps won't, shock most of us:

"The financial crisis is already cutting a swath through their economies – Unesco recently estimated that 390 million Africans will see their income drop by about 20%, far more than in the developed world. That is on top of the burden developing countries already carry, year in and year out – the massive $160bn a year stolen from their exchequers by the tax-dodging antics of businesses trading internationally, particularly multinationals."


And he proposes important solutions:

"An international accounting standard that requires companies operating internationally to disclose where they operate, the profits they make and the taxes they pay would enable all countries, rich and poor, to identify where the tax dodgers are at work."

and

"If Obama is to draw a real line under the lack of regulation and lack of transparency that triggered the present crisis, he must champion a truly multilateral agreement on automatic exchange of tax information. That way he can be a friend to the poor as well as protecting America's interests."

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