Tuesday, October 07, 2008

TJN in the news - again

There has been quite a flurry of tax justice commentary, and mentions of our network, in the newspapers recently. Yesterday we noted the FT's mention of TJN, and we have just blogged about Paul Collier's article in the Guardian on a thoroughly tax justice theme. (This was then followed by a welcome tax-justice styled reply from ActionAid here.)

There is more. ABC Australia's Four Corners has just done an in-depth programme on our issues, quoting TJN's John Christensen many times, along with TJN senior adviser Jack Blum, etc. Watch it here; the transcript is here. Then we have a letter from Richard Murphy and TJN in The Guardian here. We have Larry Elliott, the newspaper's economics editor, referring to one of Richard's recent blogs, writing about the current economic turmoil and saying this:

This list does, however, contain one crucial omission - the role of tax havens in undermining the policies of sovereign states. As Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network noted yesterday, tax havens provide a "get-out-of-regulation free" card for banks faced with tougher sanctions. This card needs to be taken off the table - but to do so will require the sort of global policy coordination so sorely lacking in recent years.

We have Polly Toynbee, one of the Guardian's stalwarts, coming at it from this angle, after a fruitful discussion with Richard Murphy - adding this:

"If (UK Prime Minister Gordon) Brown means fairness, a royal commission on tax needs to reform the gross injustice of who pays what: it will be felt more bitterly in the bad days ahead. The rich pay least, the poor most, so take from the top to lift the low-paid out of tax altogether. Tax breaks for the wealthy are far too generous, and a land value tax would prevent another property bubble. The rich disguise earnings as capital gains, so income tax and CGT need to be aligned again. Council tax is regressive, unfair and hated. Sadly international action now seems remote, but Britain has the power to close down the many tax havens it administers: days of turning a blind eye to offshore activities are over. (De Gaulle turned off Monaco's water to get his way.)
. . .
No honours should go to anyone who has not paid fair taxes in Britain: the culture of tax avoidance has to change, and shame is a powerful weapon. Goodness knows how bad things will get, but a government that stands for transparent fairness has a better chance of surviving the wrath of millions who may be about to suffer greatly."

All in the space of just a few days. And you can be sure there will be more -- plenty more -- where this came from.

Update: Oct 9 - TJN's Richard Murphy has written an article entitled "Bold? Not bold enough", which is on the Guardian's Comment is Free section. This is not to mention regular articles in this section by Prem Sikka, who regularly writes on a tax justice theme. The latest of his articles, entitled "The auditors have failed", is here.

Update: Oct 10 - TJN's Richard Murphy and John Christensen have co-authored an article in The Guardian entitled "The Threat from Offshore."

Update: Oct 13 - TJN in The Observer newspaper this time. Look in the sub-section "The Steers" (which in the print version reads "The Seers")

Update: Oct 14: Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: "Appoint the Richard Murphys, Will Huttons and Larry Elliotts not as City tsars but as City Savonarolas to flush out tax avoidance and evasion, to close down tax havens, to appoint honest non-executives to company boardrooms and institute a regime built on public trust."

Update: Oct 14: Bloomberg reports: John Christensen, director of U.K.-based non-profit Tax Justice Network, said U.K. financial regulation should be extended to Britain's tax havens. "We need full disclosure of banks' activities in these locations so that we can see whether profits generated in the U.K. are being shifted artificially to avoid tax,'' said Christensen, who was economic adviser to the government of Jersey from 1987 to 1998.


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