Nick Shaxson ■ Lima: TJN director Christensen speech on tax justice and human rights
From John Christensen, TJN’s director, a speech about tax justice and human rights.
It begins like this:
“Why the tax justice movement should embrace human rights. And vice versa
The history of economic and social rights in most countries can be discovered in their tax codes. Tax is at the core of the social contract between citizens and state and between businesses and the state. When powerful and wealthy citizens and businesses engage in abusive tax behaviour, by cheating on taxes or shaping tax policies in their favour, they undermine the social contract and deprive fellow citizens of the resources they need fulfil their democratic obligations.
Without tax revenues states are unable to deliver on their democratic mandates and human rights obligations.
Tax policies reflect political power relationships. When tax policies favour the rich, they almost always harm the well-being of poor people. When taxes are not used to redistribute wealth, inequality inevitably worsens – as Piketty has shown – and social conditions deteriorate accordingly, often leading to human rights abuses.”
And we’d perhaps single out one further quote, lower down, among many good candidates:
“If this applies to the general business community, it applies in particular to the professional tax intermediaries like lawyers, accountants and bankers who are key players in the design and structuring of most tax avoidance schemes.”