Launch of Tax Haven Free Call
Will your local politicians support the call for Tax Haven Free cities?
The Call for tax haven free cities and local governments was launched in Stockholm in March.
The launch event, at which Ethical Consumer gave a briefing, brought together politicians from accross the political spectrum and tax activists from all over Europe with one aim in mind, to stop public contracts going to companies that avoid tax.
The Call is signed by local politicians in Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, and supported by the British MPs Margaret Hodge and Caroline Lucas.
Signatories to the Call agree that tax is an essential condition of common welfare and infrastructure, and note that while societies across Europe are in the throes of an economic crisis, tax havens are flooded with money. Ian Eiloart, Lewes Councillor and signatory to the initiative, described public sector support for companies that avoid taxes as “financial suicide”.
The political imperative to address these issues in the face of increasingly destabilising and dangerous cuts to public services is becoming ever more acute. Politicians signing up to the Call are not prepared to wait until global agreements have been developed to address the issues.
The European experience
In France, 18 out of 22 metropolitan regions have adopted a requirement for the banks that they deal with to be transparent about their subsidiaries, in order to identify those that use tax havens.
Mathilde Dupré from the development organisation CCFD-Terre Solidaire told attendees at the launch that in 2013 a major victory was achieved, with a national rule for bank transparency on a country by country basis adopted. This was followed by a similar decision in Europe with the new Capital Requirements Directive.
The Swedish city of Malmö has been investigating how to stop contracts going to tax-avoiding companies since 2011. Councillor Carina Nilsson said that following investigations into whether Swedish law allows this, they are now exploring possibilities for the welfare sector in particular to screen out tax avoiders.
Benedikte Pryneid Hansen, from the financial activist organisation Attac Norway, told the gathering that in Norway 9 municipalities, a county and a university have decided to become a tax haven-free zones.
The UK situation
In her presentation Leonie Nimmo from Ethical Consumer said that in the UK procurement rules on tax avoidance introduced by the government in April 2013 are worse than useless.
However, there is political support for stopping public money going to tax avoiders, with over 70 MPs signing up for an Early Day Motion on the issue. David Quentin, a tax barrister working with Ethical Consumer, explained how the use of a Fair Tax Mark for public procurers could work in this context.
Ask your local representatives to sign the call at taxhavenfree.org and let Ethical Consumer know your responses.
Read more about Ethical Consumer's campaign for tax haven free procurement.
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