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Press release: Campaign to expose big tobacco’s lobby front may save millions of lives in lower-income countries

Below is a press release published today, 6 November 2016, with a wide range of health and international development organisations. It may mark a turning point in the fight to weaken the influence of Big Tobacco over the tax policies which are critical to save millions of lives in lower-income countries. The focus is on ITIC, a think tank which has claimed association with all manner of international organisations and global companies – while playing an important role for tobacco companies, as the WHO Secretary-General recently highlighted.

Update: covered on 7 November in the Financial Times: Nestlé and the World Bank are among a number of organisations to demand that a controversial lobby group for tobacco companies stops claiming links to them.

UN report recommends: go after tax havens, and protect whistleblowers

From the United Nations General Assembly, the fifth report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. The summary goes like this:

“The report focuses on impacts of taxation on human rights and explores the challenges posed to the international order by widespread tax avoidance, tax evasion, tax fraud and profit shifting, facilitated by bank secrecy and a web of shell companies registered in tax havens. The Independent Expert calls for resolute action by the international community, including through the creation of a United Nations tax cooperation body, the adoption of a United Nations tax convention, the phasing out of tax havens, the revision of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to include the obligation of corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and the adoption of a financial transactions tax.”

As you can imagine with an introduction like this, here’s a lot of tax justice stuff in here, and TJN gets a number of mentions. It follows our earlier blog on calls by Rafael Correa, head of the G77 group of developing countries, for an international tax body. Among other things, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order discusses the definition of ‘tax havens’ and refers to TJN’s alternative term ‘secrecy jurisdiction’ while providing further details on TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) and the top listed jurisdictions on the FSI 2015 here (p9 and in the annex).

We’ll highlight only this section below for now, which is a recommendation for the following:

EU Leaks – a new platform for whistleblowers

September 28, 2016   Blog, Tax and corporate responsibility
Antoine Deltour, Luxleaks whistleblower

Antoine Deltour, Luxleaks whistleblower

From the Greens / Europe Free Alliance in the European Parliament, a new initiative called EU Leaks:

EUleaks is a European platform where you can submit information in a highly secure and anonymous way.

Transparency and accountability are essential for democratic governance. The EUleaks project provides a platform for increasing transparency by providing a new tool for information in the public interest to be made available. EUleaks offers a venue for the realisation of freedom of expression as a fundamental right.

This comes in the context of a story which is summarised in a Guardian headline: Panama Papers: European parliament opens inquiry. (That is a fascinating story in its own right.)

More on EU Leaks from the website of Sven Giegold, who is a founder of the EU Leaks project (and a founder of TJN too, as it happens):

Report: new data disproves US corporations’ false narrative on taxes

From Americans for Tax Fairness, a major new report about corporate taxes in the United States. It’s called Corporate Tax Chartbook: How Corporations Rig the Rules to Dodge the Taxes They Owe, and it contains many useful facts, such as this:

  • Corporate profits are way up, and corporate taxes are way down. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes were 5.9 percent. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes are just 1.9 percent of GDP.
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