Populism is now driving the onshoring of tax havens – and beating that agenda should now be the tax justice movement’s priority

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I take the newsletter of the US-based Patriotic Millionaires as one amongst the many sources I use for blogging. I don't always agree with it: the underlying assumption of the organisation is that we need millionaires tax to fund government spending and we known that is not true. But this comment published overnight is worth noting:

Key findings from the Pandora Papers Investigation by The Washington Post Staff
This week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the findings of their investigation regarding the hidden offshore dealings of millionaires and billionaires from around the world. It reported what many of us already knew: the rich will take advantage of any loophole they can in order to avoid paying taxes and provide anything back to society. Several US localities have been exposed in the Papers for enabling the wealthy in the concealment of their money. Needless to say, the US tax code is so geared towards benefiting the rich that they don’t even have to go offshore to commit tax evasion.

The last point echoes the comments I made yesterday. The shift that this organisation notes did not, of course, happen under Biden. There was instead a big shift under Trump, and in Republican states that will be ongoing. What is clear is that the internal politics of the US are now a big threat to tax justice.

The tax justice movement has to decide how to react to that. It could turn on the US, as the Tax Justice Network has done, demanding amongst other things that it has its influence on international arrangements be taken away from it, despite the fact that those arrangements are very obviously working now. That's obviously not going to encourage the Biden administration. Nor will it help it sell its domestic agenda of tackling abuse by states. It won't even help tax justice by undermining the best international deal likely to be on the table for a long time to come, even if it is imperfect, as I acknowledge.

Alternatively, the tax justice movement could decide that it could support the Biden's administration desire for a global tax deal that could not have happened without its support and then go on to wholeheartedly support that same administration's plans to tackle domestic abuse issues in the USA.

One of those strategies might work. The one the Tax Justice Network is pursuing will not.