Tax havens cause enormous damage, not least because they block governments from fulfilling their human rights obligations. When rich people and powerful businesses evade paying taxes by using offshore tax havens they deprive states of the revenues they need to deliver on their commitments to provide education, health, justice and security. In this forthcoming book, Isle of Man-based lawyer Paul Beckett takes a human rights-based approach to the uses of tax havens and considers how the governments of tax havens actively connive with the process of breaching human rights.
Film maker Michael Oswald and TJN’s John Christensen have co-produced a new film about Britain’s tax haven empire. Titled The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire, the film is ready for release. It draws heavily on Nick Shaxson’s ground-breaking book Treasure Islands and uses historical footage to show how successive British governments have put tax havenry at the heart of Britain’s development strategy for over half a century.
You can get the opportunity to see this by attending the Tax Justice annual conference GLOBAL TAX JUSTICE AT A CROSSROADS: SOUTHERN LEADERSHIP AND THE CHALLENGES OF TRUMP AND BREXIT in London on 5th and 6th July where we will screen the film. You can register for the conference here. We’ll be publishing the finalised programme of speakers very soon.
So near and yet so far…
Hopes were riding high yesterday that UK parliamentarians might seize the opportunity to take historic action to end decades of financial secrecy in the UK’s Overseas Territories. We blogged about this yesterday highlighting the fact that a lot of ongoing Parliamentary business was at risk of being shelved because of the sudden general election called by British Prime Minister Theresa May. There’s a phenomenon known as the wash-up period which “refers to the last few days of a Parliament before dissolution. Any unfinished business is lost at dissolution and the Government may need the co-operation of the Opposition in passing legislation that is still in progress.”
UK parliamentarians have the opportunity to take historic action over the next two days, ending decades of financial secrecy in the UK’s Overseas Territories.
As Parliament closes down before the General Election which will take place on the 8th June, a lot of ongoing business is now at risk. A range of Bills that have been through multiple committee stages could be lost completely, required to start from scratch in the new Parliament. But some will make it through in the intense activity of the ‘wash-up‘:
The wash-up period refers to the last few days of a Parliament before dissolution. Any unfinished business is lost at dissolution and the Government may need the co-operation of the Opposition in passing legislation that is still in progress.
As governments (slowly) get to grips with the fact that tax havens are inflicting great harm on economies and democracies across the globe, facilitating mega amounts of tax dodging, and vast movements of criminal money by way of the secrecy services some of them offer, the question of our times is how we deal with them. Attempts to create tax haven blacklists (in order to potentially implement sanctions for non-cooperative jurisdictions) have so far been farcical as we’ve noted many times, most recently commenting on the European Union’s current work compiling its own blacklist system, here and here. So far the criteria for inclusion in tax haven blacklists has been weak, such lists have been ineffective and it’s been far too easy for some of the world’s worst offenders to wriggle their way out of them, or simply be big and bad enough not to worry about being included in the first place – for example – Tax Haven USA. If the EU, or anyone else really wanted to do this properly, the work’s already been done for them – with the best objective ranking available – the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index.