Tax dodging hurts the poor: Church leaders speak out…

Church leaders have been increasingly vocal in challenging the legitimacy of tax dodging in an age of austerity and spending cuts… Here are just a selection of recent statements from across the denominational spectrum:

In an age of austerity, it is the moral duty of individuals and companies alike to pay their taxes according to both the letter and the spirit of the law. Tax avoidance denies help to the poorest and most vulnerable people both in the UK and in developing countries.”
Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church Joint Public Issues Team, June 2012

“Paying tax can be viewed as a social obligation akin to loving one’s neighbour. But there is mounting evidence that the taxation system in the UK is not working well: not all people are paying taxes in proportion to their wealth and income.  We urge the UK government to end the UK’s support for tax havens, to support greater international tax transparency, and to prioritise the development and implementation of a code of conduct on business taxation which defines the practices and behaviours firms will and will not undertake.“
Church of Scotland Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity, May 2012

Tax evasion and avoidance is estimated by the Treasury to cost the UK purse at least £35 billion annually. Others estimate the number to be substantially higher. This is nearly 9% of UK tax revenue and the efficient collection of this revenue would lessen the demand to cut social and welfare expenditure which is hurting the poorest in our communities so much. Treasury estimates also suggest that those who are avoiding paying their contribution are mainly wealthy individuals and corporations, so the recouping of this money would not harm the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Quakers in Britain, 2012

“In an age of austerity and spending cuts, we believe that tax avoidance is morally unacceptable and tax evasion has to be seriously addressed. Tackling these issues will reduce the need for further damaging cuts in public spending.”
Open letter to the Chancellor from senior Free-Church leaders of the Methodist Church, Baptist Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness and the United Reformed Church, November 2011

“The Methodist Church calls on the UK government and multinational businesses to end tax avoidance schemes which impoverish the vulnerable…. as public services are being cut, the injustice of tax avoidance is becoming more acute.”
Methodist Conference statement, July 2011

‘In this country, we have created a culture of tax avoidance. The current debate is pandering to a culture of consumption and avoidance. We need a much better debate than the political parties are currently giving us.’
Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, 2005

“Every pound avoided in tax is a pound less to spend on childcare, social care, health or education. At a time when spending cuts are having a real and damaging impact on the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country, it is morally indefensible for some of Britain’s richest companies to be avoiding paying their fair share of UK taxes.”
Niall Cooper, National Coordinator, Church Action on Poverty, 2012

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