Eight of ten Europeans say laws need to change to clamp down on the use of tax havens, a poll published on Tuesday shows. Over half of all respondents also say that tax avoidance of large companies drains funding for services such as education and health care in poor countries, This new poll, produced by a leading European polling agency for a group of 24 NGOs including Oxfam and ActionAid, is released ahead of the vote at the European Parliament on Wednesday to approve or reject the recommendations of its Special Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE), a crucial step to close abusive tax loopholes.
The poll also reveals widespread public concern about corporate tax avoidance harming developing countries – 56 per cent of respondents are convinced poor countries would have more money to fight extreme inequality if the global tax system forced large companies to pay their fair share. A recent UNCTAD report estimated that developing countries may lose more than $100 billion a year due to corporate tax avoidance. This money is vital, and could be used to tackle poverty; finance education and healthcare.
Oxfam and ActionAid are calling on all EU Members States to commit to further tough actions to tackle tax avoidance by multinational companies and take into account the European Parliament vote on Wednesday. The EU has an even higher responsibility in leading by example now that the OECD/G20 initiative to reform the global tax system (BEPS) has been approved. This project is ambitious, but it has delivered insufficient changes to the real problems that would benefit citizens from all around the world, and especially from developing countries. Without a second generation of tax reforms, poor countries will continue to be the biggest losers of weak regulation that pander to big corporations.
Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on Inequality and Taxation, Aurore Chardonnet, said:
“Citizens across the EU share our call for ending corporate tax abuses. It is time for the EU to take bold action against tax havens. A first step would be adopting clear rules to ensure the public knows where companies generate profit and where they pay their taxes. This is why we need public country-by-country reporting, as it is known. This would force multinationals to publish this information and shed light on aggressive tax planning. EU Member States must adopt these rules to contribute to a fairer global tax system that works for all.”
ActionAid EU Tax Advocacy Officer, Kasia Szeniawska, said:
“If the scourge of global poverty is to be tackled bold action is needed to end corporate tax secrecy, renegotiate unfair tax treaties and ensure that multinationals pay their fair share of tax wherever they operate. Ending corporate tax dodging could reduce poverty and help deliver education and healthcare for all.”
Key findings from the pan-European poll:
- Stronger rules are needed to clamp down on tax havens: 77 per cent of people agreed that the law needs to change so that companies and wealthy individuals cannot use tax havens – i.e. places with low or very low tax rates – to reduce the amount of tax they pay in this country. Among those polled over 55 years of age, that figure rises to 85 per cent.
- Corporate tax avoidance impacts on developing countries: over half of all people across Europe (56 per cent) think poorer countries would have more money to fight poverty if we changed the global rules on tax.
- In addition 54 per cent agreed that public services like schools and hospitals in poor countries suffer due to the tax arrangements of large international companies.
Notes to editors
- The full poll data, including data for individual EU member states, can be found here.
- The polling results are based on the responses of 18,370 EU adults aged 18+ between 28th September - 7th October 2015. The sample was weighted to be representative of the general EU population.
- The poll was produced on behalf of the ‘Tax Justice Together’ project, which is funded by the European Union and brings together 24 NGOs from 19 countries (including 16 EU countries). The contents of this press release are the sole responsibility of Oxfam and ActionAid and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
- The “Committee on Tax Rulings, and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect” (TAXE) was set up in February 2015 following the Luxleaks scandal, which exposed large-scale tax avoidance practices of some of the biggest global corporations in several EU member states. The committee is tasked to investigate harmful tax practices used by companies aiming to avoid taxes. It is also responsible for recommending actions against large-scale tax avoidance schemes.
- The report of the TAXE Committee lists investigation results and offers recommendations, and is to be adopted by the European Parliament plenary on November 25. The draft report suggests enhanced cooperation and coordination between Member States on tax issues, particularly regarding tax rulings, state aid rules, transparency, public country-by-country reporting, the use of tax advisers, a compulsory Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), the protection of whistle-blowers and third country dimensions.
- In March 2015, Oxfam published “Pulling the Plug – How to stop corporate tax dodging in Europe and beyond”, a briefing note that explores some of the ways to fight corporate tax avoidance in the European Union. It also explains why it is vital for the EU to pass legislation against such tax dodging practices soon as possible.
- In July 2015, ActionAid published "Levelling Up: Ensuring a fairer share of corporate tax for developing countries", a report that argues that international corporate taxation is broken and harms all countries, especially developing countries and a new global deal is needed to curb tax competition between countries and tackle tax avoidance.
- The “World Investment Report” of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that developing countries lose at least $100 million in corporate tax revenue every year due to tax dodging by large companies. The BEPS project led by the OECD under a mandate of the G20 will not do enough to address this problem in the interest of developing countries. (See the ActionAid report "Patching up a broken tax system: Why BEPS is not the solution to poor countries’ tax problems".
The poll was funded by the European Union. The contents of this press release are the sole responsibility of Oxfam and ActionAid and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.