ECCR, as a founder member of Church Action on Tax Justice (CAT), has joined with other members of the coalition in welcoming Labour’s commitment to tax justice made by John McDonnell at the Labour Party Conference, and his intention to bring together “institutions from churches to trade unions and pensions funds” to launch a shareholder campaign demanding that companies sign up to the Fair Tax Mark standards.
ECCR believes, along with other member of CAT, that institutional shareholders, and in particular the Churches, should encourage companies to sign up to the Fair Tax Mark, so demonstrating transparently that they pay their fair share of taxes.
ECCR allies itself with Christian Aid, another founding member of CAT, in their support for this campaign.
ECCR notes the contribution that has already been made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in both his promotion of the Report from the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, of which he was a member, and his speech to the TUC Conference in which he said that paying tax is part of our commitment to our shared humanity, to solidarity and justice.
CHURCH ACTION ON TAX JUSTICE
CAT has already been in touch with church shareholders raising this question, and notes that the Methodist Central Finance Board recently adopted a Tax policy. This includes questions to be asked of companies about their tax affairs and we urge the Church Investors Group to address this matter with urgency, using these questions with companies such as Amazon in which some hold shares. CAT regards the distinction between tax avoidance and evasion which companies often cite as being a false one, tax is a moral issue and all companies should pay their fair share, not the least they think they can legally get away with.
Christian Aid has welcomed the announcement by John McDonnell at the Labour Party Conference of his intention to bring together “institutions from churches to trade unions and pensions funds” to launch a shareholder campaign demanding that companies sign up to the Fair Tax Mark standards. Toby Quantrill, Global lead on Economic Justice at Christian Aid said: “Companies and politicians of all stripes have more to do to win public trust that they are serious about making sure every business pays their taxes. “Shareholder pressure is one key way of bringing pressure onto companies to increase their transparency and demonstrate that they pay their fair share of taxes. Any shareholder with a conscience needs to be reassured that the companies they invest in are operating ethically. “The Fair Tax Mark requires multinational companies to report publicly on the business they do, the profits they make and the taxes they pay in every country where they operate. Providing this information is of vital public interest so that citizens of every country can understand whether these global companies are making a fair contribution back into the societies the are working in and profiting from.” Christian Aid has been actively campaigning for tax justice for over a decade. When companies find ways to dodge their taxes they reduce the amount available to governments to spend on key services such as health, education and security. Developing countries are the most vulnerable to this kind of behaviour, losing an estimated $100 – 300 billion every year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a fundamental rethink of how the economy works, including more public spending and higher taxes on technology giants and the wealthy.
“Not paying taxes speaks of the absence of commitment to our shared humanity, to solidarity and justice.
“If you earn money from a community, you should pay your share of tax to that community.
“I was in business, and I know that, within limits, it’s right and proper for people to arrange their tax affairs, and for companies to do so.
“But when vast companies like Amazon, and other online traders, the new industries, can get away with paying almost nothing in tax, there is something wrong with the tax system.
“They don’t pay a real living wage, so the taxpayer must support their workers with benefits.
“And having leached off the taxpayer once they don’t pay for our defence, for security, for stability, for justice, for health, for equality, for education.
“Then they complain of an undertrained workforce, from the education they have not paid for, and pay almost nothing for apprenticeships. Those are only a fraction of the costs of aggressive tax management.”