Tax avoidance 'morally wrong'
Published 18 August 2012
The majority of British adults are critical of tax avoidance, new research has found.
A survey commissioned by Christian Aid found that 56% of British adults believe that tax avoidance by multinational companies is morally wrong.
Half of those surveyed thought it should be made illegal and only four per cent of those polled thought tax avoidance by multinationals was ‘morally justifiable’. Just four per cent described such practices as ‘fair’.
Opponents of tax evasion said they were concerned that it led to a loss in funding for public services and money to tackle poverty, and that it made developing countries more reliant on aid.
Of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 74% said David Cameron should demand international action to tackle tax evasion and avoidance.
Despite Chancellor George Osborne recently describing tax avoidance as "morally repugnunt", only 38% of those surveyed said they believed the Government was genuine in its desire to address the issue.
The majority (81%) said multinational accounts should be more transparent and publicly available, while 79% said it was too easy for multinationals in the UK to avoid paying tax.
Just over half (55%) agreed that the UK Government should make it a greater priority to help developing countries to tackle tax avoidance.
Joseph Stead, Senior Economic Justice Advisor at Christian Aid, said: "This poll shows there is a huge public appetite for international action to tackle tax dodging both domestically and in developing countries.
"The public are clear that the government is not acting sufficiently, and that companies need to open their books more."
The poll, carried out by ComRes, comes days before Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty are due to start their Tax Justice tour.
The Tax Justice bus sets off from the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham next weekend and will rolls into 100 towns across the UK and Ireland over the next few weeks.
The tour will highlight the damage that tax abuse causes in rich as well as poor countries.
Christian Aid estimates that developing countries are losing around $160bn each year as a result of the tax avoidance by multinationals.
In the UK, Church Action on Poverty says the effect of tax dodging is to deprive the government of funds to provide vital services.
During the tour, members of the public will be invited on board to sign a petition calling on the Prime Minister to push for measures requiring companies to report on their profits and the taxes they pay in the countries they operate in.
Secretary for External Relationships for the Methodist Church, Chris Elliott, said: "Mission is about the manifestation of God’s love and justice in today’s world.
"Every Christian should be actively involved in the tax justice campaign, fully in the tradition of the abolition of slavery, the anti-apartheid movement and making poverty history. If we really want to make poverty history we need to take tax justice seriously."
The Bishop of Derby, Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, said: "I am very pleased to support the campaign for tax justice.
"Every year billions of pounds in tax revenue is diverted from the developing world by multinational companies - money which could be used to develop a modern infrastructure.
"The Tax Justice bus tour will ensure that this serious global issue is kept in the public domain."
Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain urged Christians to pray that tax dodging would be addressed.
"I am very grateful for the way in which Christian Aid doesn’t shy away from tough messages," he said.
"The Tax Justice Bus is a brilliant way of getting across the hard-hitting message that tax dodging harms the lives of millions of the most vulnerable people in the world.
"I hope that this initiative will help to raise the profile of this important issue and I trust that everyone will pray that the campaign will succeed."
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