Alex Cobham ■ New report, new website, new chapter for the Tax Justice Network

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A lot of people will be visiting our website today to read about the State of Tax Justice 2020 report that we’ve just launched globally. But the regular visitors among you will have noticed a second major launch today from the Tax Justice Network: our new website and branding.

What happened to the map?

The Tax Justice Network launched in 2003 after three Jersey islanders – Jean Anderson, Pat Lucas and Frank Norman – contacted former Jersey senior economic advisor and our founder-to-be John Christensen, asking him to help them save their island from the tax haven it had become. If you’re unfamiliar with the story of how a small group of school teachers and nuns baked and sold enough cakes to get the Tax Justice Network on to its feet and spark a global tax justice movement, the video below about the fire-starting trio and the annual award we named after them is well worth a watch.

With the launch of the Tax Justice Network came a logo that has served as the face of the organisation for nearly two decades. At the time, not many people knew about tax havens and their devastating impact on inequality around the world. The Tax Justice Network’s logo, just like the rest of our work at the time needed to draw attention to the globe-spanning nature and urgency of the problem.

Fast forward 17 years, and after numerous offshore scandals, tax havens are regularly featured in the news and tackling them is high on national and global agendas. Polling conducted this year in seven leading countries shows overwhelming public support for policymakers to crack down on companies using tax havens.

With the launch of the State of Tax Justice 2020 today, the debates about whether tax havenry is something that happens at the heart of the global economy, not its palm-fringed peripheries; and about whether global tax abuse is large enough to constitute a first-order economic problem; are over. The world’s biggest tax havens are OECD member countries: the UK (with its network of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies), the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Countries are losing over $427 billion to global tax abuse ever year. Losing a nurse’s yearly salary every second to a tax haven is very much a problem, especially during a pandemic.

The numbers are in. It’s time to act.

The way forward

The Tax Justice Network’s rebrand is characterised by a key pivot from drawing attention to the problem to pointing the way forward to the solution. While the Tax Justice Network has been proposing and successfully ushering in radical and imaginative polices solutions since 2003, we wanted our new branding itself to inspire people to reimagine the role tax plays in their life, and to reimagine a world where tax justice is realised.

The first step was to rethink the colours we use. Our red, black and grey colour scheme was good at communicating the gravity and urgency of the issue, which is why you’ll often find variations of this scheme used by NGOs. But what if we wanted more from our colour scheme?

After some brainstorming, we realised: what better colour to communicate both the possibility of a new world and the prosperity to be gained by all in a just society than a bright and warm yellow? The colour of both the sun and the simplest symbol for tax, a gold coin.

The second step was to find a design that could visualise what we want to say. In the end, the simplest symbol proved the best: an arrow pointing the way.

Putting it all together, we’re delighted to finally share with your our new Tax Justice Network logo.

Reprogramming our tax systems

A number of the Tax Justice Network’s policy proposals are global standards today. The data published by the OECD this summer which made our State of Tax Justice 2020 report possible was collected under country by country reporting, based on our original proposals and the draft international accounting standard published by Richard Murphy in 2003. Nonetheless, there’s still a long way to go to achieving tax justice.

For decades, our governments have been using tax policy as a tool to indulge the desires of the wealthiest and most powerful multinational corporations and individuals, instead of protecting people’s wellbeing. As a result, our societies are characterised by gross inequalities that deny us the opportunities to make a good life possible for everyone. This has dealt an ever heavier blow to women, people of colour and disabled people who already face systematically poorer prospects. Yet despite tax rates being cut down to the lowest levels of the modern period, multinational corporations and wealthy individuals are still short-changing people out of $427 billion in tax every year.

We must reprogramme our global tax system to prioritise people’s health and livelihoods over the desires of those bent on not paying tax. That means using tax policy as tool for making sure everybody has access to the opportunities that make a good life possible.

And so, to better equip people and governments around the world with the information and resources they need to reprogramme their tax systems, we’ve completely revamped our website to make it easier for visitors to find the content they need and to learn about the tax justice issues that impact them.

The new website we’ve launched today incorporates feedback we’ve received over the years from our website visitors, supporters and global network about what they want to get out of our website. Alongside a cleaner interface for more comfortable reading and a more intuitive organising of content, our new website packs a number of clever features we think you’ll find useful – like our country profiles. We’ll be launching more features in the coming weeks, including the ability to filter content and research by topics and region.

Our new report, rebrand and website launched today marks a new chapter for the Tax Justice Network. For those of you who have been with us on this journey for some time now, we thank you for your support and look forward to taking on the work ahead together. And for those of you joining us today for the first time, a big welcome from the Tax Justice Network team – there’s plenty of room for you in the fight for tax justice. We’re just getting started.

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