Wayne Swan: Tax avoidance impoverishes us all. Fighting it requires challenging the powerful

A great article in the Guardian and a worthwhile read on the corporate tax avoidance in Australia. We particularly like the following snippets…

“When global companies seemingly as respected and large as these operate in this cavalier way, it compromises the integrity of the social contract and green lights others to follow in their tax avoiding footsteps”.

“A progressive tax system for corporates and individuals is central to the capacity of nations to fund their own growth. It is one of a number of structural reforms required to lift living standards across the developed and developing world. Rampant tax evasion torpedoes this central platform of inclusive growth and is now a structural cause of growing global inequality.”

“The billions of dollars extracted are forever lost to health or education or infrastructure investment that improves the lives of people across the community, but is also vital for productivity growth and so ultimately supports the bottom line for businesses”.

“The corporate veil should not hide the moral responsibility of those who run them and the decisions taken in their name.” 

“The implementation of a progressive tax system means challenging power elites. There is deep institutional resistance to more inclusive forms of growth over and above acceptable levels of poverty”

Some other interesting tax nuggets from the article include:

  • 55% of all the foreign profits of US firms are now kept in tax havens … its cost is enormous – $130 billion a year for US firms alone.
  • The London G20 summit in 2009 launched an assault on tax havens, declaring “the end of banking secrecy”. Since that time the amount of money held in tax havens has actually increased by 25%.
  • The IMF has estimated that developing countries lose three times as much revenue as OECD countries. If they can’t get progressive tax systems in place, their capacity to fund affordable health and education is minimal.


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