Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Outlandish Revenue Service

We are absolutely delighted to see this:

"ActionAid has brought together The Outlandish Revenue Service to go to ludicrous lengths to achieve tax justice."

So what is the Outlandish Revenue Service?

"We’re trying to get people to (excitedly) talk tax and help achieve tax justice. We know it’s a tough job. That’s why, together, we’re undertaking a series of projects so outlandish that the powers that be can’t fail to take notice."

Which is an exceedingly good idea. And how important is tax to developing countries? Well, there are several figures that will be familiar to regular readers of this blog -- such as the $160 billion that Christian Aid estimates is lost to poor countries each year from multinational companies dodging the taxes they owe them -- but we are fascinated to see some extra things that Actionaid have drawn our attention to, such as this comment from Mary Baine, Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority, that

“Taxation is a major building block for our development. In 1998 tax revenue made up 16% of our budget. It now makes up 52%.”

And, Actionaid notes, poverty in Rwanda has dropped from 74% of the population to 56% and almost all children now get a primary education. But, as the Outlandish Revenue Service notes, governments like Rwanda can do very little about international tax dodging.

They point to this graph, which speaks for itself, and take a look on Page three of this document to see a clear and basic illustration of how an outlandish multinational company, "Bent Bananas International," shifts profits around the world and deprives developing countries of the revenue.

Their section on seriously sensible solutions rightly highlights country by country reporting and automatic information exchange as key elements in a toolbox required now to help developing countries.

And they have a host of programmes planned -- write to Britain's Chancellor, for example, follow their highly readable blog about what's going on, or, as Actionaid note,

"The Outlandish Revenue Service is built on the daring, excellence, wit and modest charm of its members. So, if you - or a group of you - have an idea, stick it down here and we'll see how we can provide support to get it off the ground."

Actionaid needs your support on this. Please join them.



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