Achieving the SDGs needs fair taxation: NGOs call on the EU to #EndTaxHavens

In September 2015, world leaders have committed to eradicate poverty, fight inequalities, realize social protection for all  and achieve, by 2030, an inclusive development model where no one is left behind and planetary boundaries are respected by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Its ambitious implementation will require a strong political will, the engagement of Civil Society Organizations and the mobilization of substantial resources: according to UN estimates it will cost US$1.4 trillion per year to reach the Sustainable Development Goals in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Where will we find this money?

According to the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, fair taxation and the fight against tax dodging and tax heavens is probably a big part of the answer. Conservative estimates have found that one type of corporate tax avoidance alone is costing developing countries between US $70 billion and $120 billion per year.[1] Indeed, every dollar lost to tax havens, is a dollar that could have been invested in public services - to pay doctors and teachers, fund vaccinations, or invest in school seats for children.

This is why, SOLIDAR supports the Global Week of Action (1-7 April) to #EndTaxHavens and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the EU to take measures and namely to:

  • Introduce public country-by-country reporting for all multinational corporations. If all large multinational corporations were obliged to carry out public country-by-country reporting, the public would be allowed to see where each corporation is doing business and how much taxes it pays in each country where it operates.
  • Establish public registers of the real “beneficial” owners of trusts and companies. Public registers would allow the public to see who truly owns the trusts and companies operating in our societies, and make it more difficult for tax evaders and other criminals to hide their fortunes in anonymous trusts and shell companies.
  • Support the establishment of an inclusive intergovernmental UN Global Tax Body, where all countries have an equal say in setting international tax standards. A truly global intergovernmental UN tax body would create a space for governments to commit to a global solution to the global problem of tax havens, and would create a more transparent decision making body, which is key to ensuring that citizens can hold their governments to account.
  • Protect whistleblowers. Global exposures such as the Panama Papers and the Luxembourg Leaks were made possible by whistleblowers who took action in the public interest to promote justice and reveal large-scale tax dodging. Today, whistleblowers are not protected from prosecution and risk facing severe penalties despite the fact that they acted in the interest of the public.
  • Use tax revenues to fund the public services and social protections as vital means to ending poverty and inequality.

Finally, in a recent exchange of views hosted by the S&D group within the European Parliament, SOLIDAR reiterated that if further measures to promote fair taxation, fight tax dodging and tax heavens are not urgently adopted by the EU, the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its ambitious SDGs will not be achieved.

 

SOLIDAR is member of the SDG Watch Europe: a European, cross-sectoral, civil society alliance committed to supporting the implementation, monitoring and follow up of the 2030 Agenda by the EU and its member states. SDG Watch Europe positions and statements are available online at www.sdgwatcheurope.org.

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