Getting the message across

Posted on

One of the problems of being 'on tour', as I seem to be right now, is finding time to blog. So this comes pre-breakfast from the worst room Travelodge must have in London (which is another story), having done three events in the last 36 hours or so.

The first was the TUC Congress, where I spoke to a fringe meeting organised by War on Want and PCS. Both are now fully committed to campaigns for tax justice both here in the UK, but as importantly, internationally. The awareness that this is an international phenomenon creating real poverty around the world is growing. The awareness of the fact that this is a choice on the part of the international finance community is also growing. Companies could transfer price properly, they need not use tax havens, the lawyers, bankers and accountants of the world choose o provide this opportunity to shift income from the poorest in the world to he richest in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly this was a message that went down well in Brighton with the TUC, and of course I was pleased it did.

As pleasing, and as rewarding as the reception I got when delivering the Association of International Accountants annual Founder's Lecture on Wednesday night in London. The text of what I said (nearer enough) is here. What surprised me was this: I was debating with Stephen Herring from BDO who proposed that the future of corporation tax would be at only 10 or 15%, suggested VAT should go up to pay for it, and promoted smaller government to balance the books. And without exception the AIA members present in the audience did not buy his argument, and did buy mine of a simpler, transparent tax system for smaller businesses along the lines I argued for here, and a unitary basis for international companies with formula apportionment.

I admit I did not expect to win this one. The degree of support offered was surprising and gratifying as a result: the fact that it was clearly, even unambiguously argued by most commentators to be required on a moral basis was even more rewarding to hear.

And yesterday I presented my arguments on 'secrecy spaces' at University College London, which as well received, which is more than I can say for David Williams of KPMG who presented that firms arguments on tax and CSR. As I'm said, I'm sure David sincerely means all he says, but the misconceptions in the paper as to the purpose of tax are so great that all that follows provides an explanation for why I felt I had to leave that firm, a long time ago.