You will doubtless be aware of recent campaigns to boycott tax dodging corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon. The 38 Degrees website, for example, recently listed ten big companies to avoid when buying presents, including Boots, and Cadbury. Now more than ever, tax Revenue is needed to protect the National Health Service, provide adequate welfare benefits and social care, libraries, and voluntary sector projects – such as women’s refuges, foodbanks, advice services, day centres, crisis support, etc – all of which are particularly important to people surviving on very low incomes. Proposals for a Citizen’s income depend upon acceptance of returning to higher rates, and fairer systems, of taxation.
For more than three decades the gulf between the very rich and rest of us has been steadily increasing. In the U.K. professor Greg Philo has shown that a wealth tax – raising £800bn from the richest 10% – could pay off the national debt and obviate the need to cut frontline services without causing discomfort to anyone. A YouGov poll found 74% support for this, with a slightly higher level of support amongst the very wealthy themselves!
The Tax Justice Network have done some impressively sober research into the impact of tax avoidance and evasion globally. They conclude that around $11.5 trillion is held in ‘offshore’ tax havens by individuals, and that approximately $250 billions of tax revenue lost because of this could be used to eradicate global poverty – today, in 2012, some 850 million people are undernourished – and transform the world’s energy infrastructure to combat climate change. They are aware of the need for taxation to be more redistributive, and are deeply opposed to the weapons manufacturing industry. Tax avoidance transfers the costs of susbidising the war machine from richer to poorer people, whilst forcing cutbacks in essential frontline services. Work such as theirs invaluably highlights the systemic abuses of the neoliberal economic order. Unless these are confronted there can, surely, be little hope of establishing ecological sustainability, let alone species diversity.
38 degrees: www.38degrees.org.uk
Greg Philo, c/o Glasgow Media Group: www.glasgowmediagroup.org/content/44/45
Tax Justic Network: www.taxjustice.net/cms/front content.php?idcatart=2&lang=1
The image comes from 38 degrees.