Stop people not paying tax

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Stop people not paying tax!

By Christine Allen

15-01-27-tax-dodger-590.jpg

For years, people have been telling the government to do something about people who don’t pay enough tax. This was a protest in 2010 at the same time as Chancellor George Osborne's budget announcement. (38 Degrees under a Creative Commons Licence)

At this time of year there are posters everywhere about tax. Every morning at the station I see a poster saying ‘I did my tax return early and got inner peace’. And at my local bus stop, I see another poster saying ‘we’re going to get the tax dodgers’.

I did my own tax return online a few months ago, so I can have ‘inner peace’. But seriously, I am one of the people who think it’s important to pay tax. Many years ago I was part of a church group that wrote about the relationship between tax and the Common Good (our responsibility to other people and to our society, especially to the vulnerable, the poor and people who need help). This is what tax is for. If spent well, it pays for schools, hospitals and protection of the vulnerable. It is the money for the necessary basis of a decent society.

When I started working at Christian Aid, I began to see how this works – or doesn’t – for developing countries. We all know about aid, but really, effective tax collection is one of the best ways to get money to do something about poverty. It helps governments not be so dependent on aid. And the people need to know how they use the tax money, so the government have to be more open. This helps cut corruption. This is a model of independence, better than depending on aid or charity, which can vary.

But you don’t have to think paying tax is good to feel angry now. We see more and more companies are finding ways not to pay tax. So governments at home and in other countries do not get the money they really need, which they could use to fight poverty. Also, the UK tax system is so full of ‘loopholes’ (ways to not pay tax) that a lot of it isn’t even illegal.

I have been fighting for social change for a long time, and I’ve never seen an issue that can bring together all different parts of society like this. Everyone agrees that this isn't right: small-business owners, trade unionists, pensioners, my nine-year-old daughter, people of faith, atheists and the most voters of every political party. And it’s legal, which doesn’t make us feel better.

This is a very good time in politics to fight for a change in the law. So 16 organizations – including Christian Aid, NUS, The Equality Trust, Oxfam, ActionAid and Health Poverty Action – have come together to start a campaign today (27/1/15) – 100days before the general election – for a Tax Dodging Bill to end the worst loopholes and raise billions for the people of Britain and developing countries.

Before the election, we all need to contact the election candidates, ask questions at meetings and tell others about it on social media, so that we can force the next government to listen to the public and do what’s right.

Maybe one day the posters will say: ‘I found inner peace when I persuaded the government to get the big businesses to stop tax dodging’. And the message on the bus stop will simply say: ‘We got them – thanks for your help.’

Christine Allen is Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Christian Aid. To join the Tax Dodging Bill campaign, visit www.taxdodgingbill.org.uk

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/2015/01/27/tax-dodgers-bill/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).