Monday, June 07, 2010

Christian Aid: surveying top UK multinationals

Christian Aid in the UK has a new project: getting multinational firms to treat tax as it should be - a matter of corporate responsibility. As they say:

"Christian Aid will today seek to enlist the help of its supporters in a project to gauge what FTSE100 companies think about how multinationals’ tax practices affect developing countries.
. . .
We have written to all the FTSE100 companies, seeking their views on questions such as whether businesses have a social responsibility to pay tax in poor countries and whether they would support the introduction of a new, more transparent accounting standard,’ said Judith Cavanagh, Christian Aid’s Campaign Manager, Economic Justice."


So: Email the FTSE 100

We’ve made the case that greater tax transparency would help developing countries identify where tax dodging is taking place. Last month, we sent the CEOs of the FTSE 100 a survey to gauge levels of support for greater transparency and country-by-country reporting – but only 26 have responded so far. We now need your help to encourage the remainder to respond.
Chase the FTSE 100 companies

Here is the full text of the press release:

"Christian Aid asks thousands of supporters to help survey top UK companies
Christian Aid will today seek to enlist the help of its supporters in a project to gauge what FTSE100 companies think about how multinationals’ tax practices affect developing countries.

On Wednesday, the development agency will email thousands of its supporters, asking them to encourage leading firms such as Marks & Spencer, Rolls Royce, BT and Barclays to respond to a Christian Aid survey about tax and development.

‘We have written to all the FTSE100 companies, seeking their views on questions such as whether businesses have a social responsibility to pay tax in poor countries and whether they would support the introduction of a new, more transparent accounting standard,’ said Judith Cavanagh, Christian Aid’s Campaign Manager, Economic Justice.

‘We are genuinely keen to know what these leading companies think and we are asking our supporters to get in touch with them and encourage them to respond to our survey. We have already heard from a few major firms but we would very much like more companies to give us their perspectives.’

The Christian Aid survey asks companies what they think about the relationship between corporate tax payments and the development of poor countries. The survey also asks firms to give their views on the possible introduction of a new accounting standard called country-by-country reporting, which would require multinationals to publish information about the profits they make and the taxes they pay in every country where they operate. That way, tax anomalies could be more quickly spotted.

Christian Aid believes that this would help developing countries to collect more of the tax revenue that they are owed and that this, in turn, would increase funding for public services such as schools, hospitals and sanitation.

Tax dodging by unscrupulous companies trading internationally costs developing countries some $160bn in lost tax revenue every year, according to Christian Aid. The sum is around one-and-a-half times the total amount of foreign aid that poor countries receive every year. If it were allocated according to current spending patterns, then it could save the lives of 350,000 children under five annually.

Christian Aid also recognises the desirability of poor countries’ governments being able to collect domestic taxes more effectively. It says this would increase their accountability to their own citizens."

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