Christian Aid: Death and Taxes

Posted on

This is Christian Aid week in the UK.

Christian Aid launches its annual report linked to that week today. It is called Death and Taxes.

As they say:

The lives of 1,000 young children a day are being lost to disease and poverty in poor countries because of illegal trade-related tax evasion, says a new report from Christian Aid.

It has calculated that this evasion costs the developing world at least US$160bn in lost revenue annually. The culprits are companies using false accounting to reduce their tax liability.

If that money was allocated according to current spending patterns, the lives of 350,000 children under the age of five, 250,000 of them infants, could be saved every year.

The sum is almost one and a half times the amount given as aid to the developing world every year. If the amount that is also lost through legal tax avoidance dodges were added, it would be many times greater.

Christian Aid's report, Death and taxes: the true toll of tax dodging, looks at the impact of tax dodging, both legal and illegal, on the developing world. It blames the secrecy offered by more than 70 tax havens for widespread abuses, and highlights the role of facilitators, including the big accountancy firms, in promoting their use.

That's hard hitting. I think it appropriate. And the Big 4 and their like cannot deny their role: they are in all the major havens, including the likes of Liechtenstein.

Those who facilitate international tax avoidance, let alone evasion (and many will not know which they are doing - partly because the claim that accountants make that there is a distinct dividing line is wholly untrue, especially when you are only dealing with one aspect of a web of transactions) should think hard. They will be directly contributing to the death of children.

The report can be downloaded here.

Please read it.

Disclosure: I contributed to this report. I will be speaking at its launch tonight.