We've heard a lot in recent months about the immorality of tax dodging from both David Cameron and George Osborne. It turns out the public agree with them but crucially don't think they're doing enough about it.
Research published this week by ComRes has revealed 56% of British adults believe that tax avoidance by multinational companies (while a technically legal way of reducing what they owe the taxman) is morally wrong and half of people think it should be made illegal.
Only 4% think tax avoidance by multinationals was 'morally justifiable' and just 4% described it as 'fair'.
In June the Prime Minister described Jimmy Carr's offshore tax arrangements as 'morally wrong' and in March his Chancellor lambasted aggressive tax avoidance as 'morally repugnant'. Even Treasury Minister David Gauke got in on the act, questioning the morality of tradesmen taking cash in hand to avoid tax.
Despite these strong words the survey, commissioned by Christian Aid, showed that the public did not feel the Government rhetoric was being matched by action. Seventy-four per cent felt that David Cameron should be demanding international action to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, yet only 38% believed the Government is genuine in their desire to combat the problem.
Christian Aid estimates tax dodging costs the developing world $160 billion a year - more than the annual global aid budget. The poll showed the public understand the link between tax dodging and international development, with two thirds (65%) believing closing legal tax loopholes should be a higher international development priority for the British Government than funding infrastructure in developing countries.
Both in the UK and abroad, every pound of tax dodged is one less that can be spent on public services. Without the taxes owed to them by companies making millions of pounds of profit, developing countries will struggle to bring themselves out of poverty and continue to be reliant on aid.
In the UK the Government estimates that £35 billion is lost every year through tax dodging.
The publication of the survey marks the launch of the Tax Justice Bus on August 25 by Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty. The bus is a 1950s London Routemaster which will spend the following 53 days driving the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, sharing the message of tax justice and calling on David Cameron to push for global action to clamp down on tax dodging.
Specifically these would be for companies to report on the profits they make and taxes they pay in every country in which they operate and for tax havens to automatically share information with other countries about the money flowing through them.
David Cameron will hold the chairmanship of the G8 summit next year and so will have the power to set the agenda for international action. Tackling the loss of billions of dollars in lost revenue would be a sign that his actions match his words when it comes to the scandal of tax dodging.
For more information about the Tax Justice Bus and to find out when it's coming to a town near you, visit the Tax Justice Bus website.
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