Oxfam demands reform of tax havens

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Developing countries are missing out on up to 124 billion US dollars (£90 billion) a year from offshore assets held in tax havens, according to a report issued by Oxfam.

At least 6.2 trillion dollars of developing country wealth is being held offshore by individuals - with a further 200-300 billion dollars being moved into tax havens each year - depriving poor nations of 64-124 billion dollars in tax revenues each year, said the charity.

The Oxfam report, based on analysis by former McKinsey chief economist James Henry, is published on the eve of the G20 finance ministers' summit in Sussex at which tighter regulation of tax havens will be high on the agenda.

Oxfam called for reform of tax havens, saying that the scale of their impact on developing nations could outweigh the 103 billion dollars they receive each year in overseas aid.

Kirsty Hughes, Oxfam head of policy and advocacy, said: "Developing countries are losing billions of pounds every year that would provide a vital boost to their economies and could be spent on reducing poverty.

"This money could pay for health and education services, for protection against the deepening impact of the economic crisis such as safety nets to help those who have lost jobs and for projects to protect poor people already affected by climate change.

"The current financial crisis shows our leaders can no longer afford to stand idly by whilst tax havens take billions of pounds from the pockets of taxpayers in rich and poor countries alike.

"Reform of tax havens would be an easy win for our leaders that would benefit ordinary people at home and abroad alike. There is no longer any excuse for delay."

Oxfam is one of a group of dozens of charities, trade unions and community organisations coming together under the Put People First banner for a march ahead of the G20 world leaders' summit in London on April 2. The Put People First rally in Hyde Park on March 28 will call on the world leaders to take action on jobs, justice and climate change.

The group - which also includes the TUC, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth, Save the Children and the Jubilee Debt Campaign - has released a 12-point blueprint for action to chart a path out of global recession.

Note: The figures are lower than those published three years ago by the Tax Justice Network as high net worth individual’s wealth has gone down and so have rates of return.

I’ll put in a link to the report when I can find it!

Jim Henry is a good friend of the Tax Justice Network and has been heavily engaged in its US activities.

Oxfam pioneered NGO involvement in this area with its 2000 report. They seem, unfortunately, to have removed this from their web site, but it’s good to have them back in the fray.