I have spent the last two days at the Tax Justice Network conference. Hosted by City, University of London where I still work, the event was notable in a number of ways.
First, for the size of its attendance.
Second, for the fact that every continent was well represented.
Thirdly, for the quality of the papers.
Fourth, for the fact that so many are now studying tax justice issues.
Fifth, for the quality of the organisation, which since long ago has had nothing to do with me.
But there was more to it than that. Whilst there was considerable evidence presented on the issues still to be faced, and ample evidence that those who supply corruption are still well ensconced in some places, the mood has changed over the years. When we began these events fifteen or so years ago, when I did organise them, we were a small group of outsiders looking at a world going wrong, where the arguments all appeared to be being won by the other side. And that is no longer the case.
Tax justice is still small. But it’s not a complete outsider. And it wins many battles, on country-by-country reporting, information exchange, beneficial ownership registers and other issues. Overwhelmingly, the case for transparency has been won, even if it has not been delivered by a long way as yet.
I would venture that this would not have happened without the Tax Justice Network and the tireless efforts of John Christensen in particular. There were odd moments to note and celebrate this over the two days. And I think that wholly appropriate, because realising that your efforts have achieved something provides the energy to go on, and there is still much to do.