The following report came to me via Eurodad, the European network of aid and development agencies. I have not taken part in this initiative, and recognise the legal problems it faces, but welcome it and support it:
Local politicians in Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Spain and UK initiate a call for tax haven free cities and local governments: www.taxhavenfree.
It has become increasingly difficult to guarantee citizens good welfare when there is not enough tax money. Tax avoidance and tax evasion is a growing problem, particularly since multinational corporations have set the system to manipulate their accounting in order to transfer profits to tax havens.
According to James. S. Henry from the Tax Justice Network a total of 21-32 trillion dollars is hidden away in tax havens. If the fortunes hidden in tax havens were fairly taxed, there would be plenty of resources for investment in welfare services, in international solidarity and in a sustainable transition that could save our climate.
Tackling tax evasion is mainly a responsibility for politicians at national and international level, but in anticipation of an international framework local politicians can stop taxpayers’ money from going to companies, banks or funds that use tax havens for tax evasion. For example, by taking back services into public hands or by imposing requirements for country-by-country reporting, which would show if bidders in public procurement paid a fair rate of tax in every country they operate in.
Since 2010 French regions have started to act in order to require more transparency in the accounts of the banks they are working with. In Sweden, Norway and Finland some municipalities are taking strong steps towards increased transparency and responsible tax practices in their public procurement. Now local politicians initiate an international network for tax haven free local governments:
”I find it deeply immoral that tax-funded activities are trying to conjure away profits in order to avoid paying tax”. Carina Nilsson, Councillor, Social democratic Party, Malmö, Sweden
”It must be our responsibility as politicians at all levels to ensure that every tax crown is used for our common welfare and not disappear off to tax havens.” Bertil Dahl, Councillor, Left Party, Kalmar, Sweden
“Everybody understands that we can not preserve the common welfare if our tax money goes to companies who do not pay taxes honestly. We simply have to win the fight against tax havens.” Thomas Wallgren, Member of the City Council, Socialdemocratic Party, Helsinki, Finland
”The local governments take most of the responsibility for the regime of welfare services and this through tax financing. Therefore, we also must be active in the fight against tax evasion”. Johannes Hirvaskoski, Member of the City Council, Center Party, Vanda, Finland
”This is about a distortive market structure few people know the extent of. Tax havens are devastating to the honest players. Poor countries are most severly affected, but also you and me”. Lars Giæver, Member of the City Council, Green Party, Lillehammer, Norway
“Tax havens allow organised tax fraud. They support a parasitic capitalism which steals from the community, the earth and future generations”. Øyvind Solum, Member of the City Council, Green Party, Nesodden, Norway
“Tax havens are legalized criminality. If we want to preserve the welfare of our societies and combat poverty, we have to get rid of tax havens”. Even Gran, Member of the City Council, Socialistic Left Party, Horten, Norway
”In the fight against tax havens, we local governments can be active players. We just have to choose as partners banks and other companies who do not evade taxes, by any means nor anywhere throughout the world.” Robert Lion, Member of the Regional Council, Ile de France (Paris region), Green Party, France
“I think it’s financial suicide for the public sector to support companies that evade taxes. Local action will support and promote international legislation”. Ian Eiloart, Liberal Democrat, Member of Lewes District Council, UK
“Putting an end to offshore tax havens is both a political obligation and a matter of social urgency. The decline of public services and the withdrawal of assistance for the underprivileged are creating even wider gaps of exclusion and poverty”. Txentxo Jiménez Hervás, Member of the Regional Parliament in Navarra, Aralar Party, Spain
The Fair Tax Mark, which has been developed by a team of tax justice campaigners and tax experts, shows that a company is making a genuine effort to be open and transparent about its tax affairs and pays the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place.“It is necessary and urgent to end tax havens in order to achieve sustainability of public spending with a fair tax system based on the principles of equality”. Marisa de Simón Caballero, Txema Mauleón Esparza and José Miguel Nuin Moreno, Members of the Regional Parliament in Navarra, Izquierda-Ezkerra Coalition, Spain