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Tax justice and public contracts, Brexit threats, criminal dodges and crackdowns in our January 2017 podcast

In this month’s Taxcast, our monthly podcast: we look at tax justice and public procurement – the efforts to hit tax dodging companies where it really hurts on a local level – trying to stop them bidding for public money for public contracts. Also:

  • how massive amounts of money are flowing into Tax Haven USA to circumvent the flawed Common Reporting Standard – South Dakota is apparently raking in tax evading capital
  • the slippery world of ‘residence planning’ and the ‘synthetic residency’ dodge
  • we discuss the UK’s Criminal Finances Bill likely to be passed this year, which includes proposals for ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’ and holding tax evading enablers to account. An amendment to the bill could force UK satellite tax havens, the overseas territories to create public registers of the real owners of companies, something they’ve so far refused to do.
  • and we consider the British threat to the EU: ‘if you give us a bad Brexit deal, we’ll push regulation-lite, tax haven UK even further in a race to the bottom and shoot ourselves in the foot.’

The real losers of the UK becoming a tax haven

January 16, 2017   Blog, Race to the Bottom, Tax Wars

For months the public and governments around the world have been totally mystified at the lack of any plan coming from the UK government on how it intends to extract itself from the European Union following the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

On Sunday the British Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed the hand of the May government. As seems to have become the tradition, he did so in a European newspaper. It appears that the UK is now openly threatening to turn itself into the world’s largest tax haven if the EU does not yield to its demands for free access to the European market.

Ownership Avoidance, the Great Escape in the Tax Justice Network December 2016 Podcast

In our December 2016 Taxcast: In trusts we trust? We look at the new game in town: beneficial ownership avoidance, the booming industry in alternative escape vehicles from public registers and why we must shine the spotlight on all of them.

Plus: we discuss two big stories we think will define 2017: the race to the bottom between nations on tax aka a transfer of wealth to the corporate community, and how the world’s biggest havens are increasingly having to account for the devastating effect their tax and/or financial secrecy policies are having on human rights around the world… We also report from the appeal of tax justice heroes Antoine Deltour and Rapahel Halet in Luxembourg.

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:

Ecuador’s president calls for global tax body

President Rafael Correa

President Rafael Correa

Updated with additional information about Correa’s administration and exposés in the Panama Papers scandal; scroll down.

Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has published a significant statement about international tax governance, and specifically the prospect of creating a global tax organisation. This is particularly important, given that Ecuador has just assumed the presidency of the G77 group of developing countries.

“A rapidly growing global web of tax havens is one of the key drivers of this inequality . . . 

No one country can tackle this complex, secretive global financial conspiracy alone. Coordinated and comprehensive global action is needed. Current moves towards greater transparency about the initial owners of money held in shell companies can be part of the solution, but modest efforts at achieving greater transparency are not enough. We need to scrap tax havens altogether.

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