UNA-UK calls for action to end tax avoidance

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In the lead-up to the Summit of the Group of Eight (G8) in Northern Ireland, UNA-UK has joined forces with the Enough Food for Everyone IF Campaign to call on the G8 to use this opportunity to take decisive action on hunger, which must include tackling tax avoidance.

Nearly one billion go hungry

Enough food is produced to feed the global population, yet almost 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night. Hunger and malnutrition is set to increase, projected to affect over 900 million children alone by 2025.

In addition to destroying lives, malnutrition is expected to cost developing countries as much as $125bn a year in lost economic output.

Crucial source of funding

National taxes are a crucial source of predictable funding for developing countries trying to combat hunger.

Countries like Burundi, where nearly three quarters of the population are under-nourished, raised just $35 per person in 2009 - severly undermining their ability to tackle hunger and malnutrition, let alone build up the institutions needed to provide basic services and collect taxes.

The cost of tax avoidance

But lack of institutional capacity is not the only factor preventing poor countries from receiving the taxes they are owed.

Across the developing world, multinational corporations employ a number of schemes to avoid paying taxes in developing countries. Through tax havens, they are able to take hundreds of billions of dollars away from the real locations of economic activity. Often, these schemes are legal, at times carried out in collusion with local authorities or companies.

The scale of the problem is vast. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that every year developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid.

In its recent report on the future of international development, the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda identified measures to increase poor countries' tax revenues and tackle tax avoidance and evasion as key priorities.

The G8 must act

Ahead of the Summit, UNA-UK has written an open letter to G8 leaders, urging them to take decisive and meaningful action to combat tax avoidance and evasion, and support developing countries in building their capacity to tackle hunger and raise and deploy taxes effectively.

Specifically, we are calling for them to:

  • Ratify the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, and press tax havens within their jurisdiction, as well as developing countries, to do so too
  • Develop voluntary guidelines to promote higher standards of transparency and accountability among multinational corporations
  • Work with developing countries to support better tax infrastructure and governance, and make this a priority in international development policies

Take action

UNA-UK is calling on its members and supporters to help put pressure on the G8.

Photo: Enough Food for Everyone IF Campaign  

*In the campaign email sent to our members and supporters, we incorrectly mentioned that 900 million children will die by 2025 if the present trend of hunger continues. The sentence should have instead read as: "Should this trend continue unabated, it is estimated that some 900 million children could be affected by the impacts of hunger and malnutrition by 2025, and developing countries could lose almost $125bn a year in economic output by 2030". We apologise for this error.

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