Tax Justice

Methodist Tax Justice Network aims to put tax justice issues at the heart of the Methodist Church's mission. This is especially important to the economies of developing countries. Is any of our money invested in companies which manipulate their affairs to hide wealth from due taxation?     

After much thought and discussion we decided we should ‘go ecumenical’ so that’s what we have done. Church Action for Tax Justice (CAT) is now in formation, as a partner body to Tax Justice UK, itself formed a year ago as the UK arm of the international Tax Justice Network. 

A national committee for CAT is in formation, with members from Christian Aid, the Society of Friends, the Methodists, Tax Justice UK, the Joint Public Issues Team, Christians on the Left and others. We have invited other Christian bodies to join.

A new website for Church Action for Tax Justice is currently in formation at www.catj.org.uk.

The aims of Church Action for Tax Justice are to -

  1. Promote an awareness of the crucial issue of Tax Justice in the context of the idea of a ‘race to the top’, a fair tax system which highlights the fundamental relationship between taxation and public services, in the national and wider context;
  2. Seek to raise awareness throughout the Churches and faith communities of the urgent need for Tax Justice at a national and international level;
  3. Encourage Christian and all religious bodies to promote Tax Justice in their education, mission and financial policies and practices;
  4. Support initiatives and campaigns, especially around transparency, by TJ-UK, the international Tax Justice Network (TJN), Tax Justice Europe, the Global Alliance (GATJ) and – as appropriate - faith agencies such as Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty.

“Reforms are urgent, now is the time for tough action”: Dame Margaret Hodge

Christian leaders united in the House of Lords on Tuesday 17 April to challenge government inactivity on tax justice reforms and to demand immediate tough action. Launching “Church Action for Tax Justice” (CAT), President-Designate of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Michaela A Youngson, joined Lords Rowan Williams and Richard Harries, Dame Margaret Hodge and Quaker Leader Paul Parker to demand an end to corporate tax evasion, greater transparency and a change to the negative narrative around tax.

In her speech to a packed committee room, the Revd Youngson said: “I hope we can shift the narrative around tax away from it being a dirty word, or a necessary evil, but rather a blessing and a means of all citizens having a stake in a generous society that cares for all.” Dr Rowan Williams talked about an “unquenchable thirst for more” in the corporate sector (referencing the name of the Christian Aid report), a “wilful blindness” amongst policy makers and how tax should not be “an us and them but a recognition of shared goals and mutuality”.

Opening the meeting, Dame Margaret Hodge, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax, congratulated the new initiative, saying: “there has never been a more important time than today to address issues of tax justice...this is not anti-business but pro fairness…Reforms are urgent, now is the time for tough action.”

CAT will seek to inspire all Churches about the urgency of creating fairer and more effective tax systems to fund healthier public services, both in the UK and internationally.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Chair of the Christian Aid Board, said: “The creation of this new Church-wide movement is timely. Many of the world’s largest companies seem to have forgotten that they have moral duties, as well as legal ones. They must support human flourishing, not least by paying their fair share of taxes in all the countries where they do business - and being fully transparent about the relevant data.”

Ending financial secrecy in UK tax havens like the British Virgin Islands is one of the reforms CAT will pursue, along with changes to the way large multinational companies are taxed.

In addition, the new campaign will call on Churches themselves to make more vigorous and vocal use of their power as investors in major companies.

CAT has developed out of the Methodist Tax Justice Network and seeks to be more ecumenical, embracing all Church denominations.

One recent sign of the success of the worldwide movement for tax justice has been the decision by Vodafone to publish its country-by-country reports from 2019 onwards. Christian Aid, the Tax Justice Network and others have long campaigned for major multinationals to publish such data, because it can throw up suspicious patterns that alert tax authorities and civil society to potential tax dodging. This, in turn, helps them to hold companies to account.

Notes:

David Haslam, the Secretary of Church Action for Tax Justice: Davidhaslam558@btinternet.com

Methodist Church: Paul Morrison, MorrisonP@methodistchurch.org.uk

Quakers: Anne van Staveren, Media Relations Officer, Quakers in Britain: 020 7663 1048 and 07958 009703 @mediaquaker


Printer Printable Version