General Analysis on Global Taxes


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GPF Perspectives

Joint letter by European CSOs on Country-by-Country Reporting (September 14, 2015)

Moren than 40 European NGOs write to their respective Ministers of Finance and to the European Commission to call for a strong outcome of the upcoming EU negotiations on public country by country reporting for multinational corporations under the Shareholders Rights Directive. Ending the secrecy surrounding the tax payments and economic activities of multinational corporations is a crucial step towards re-establishing public trust in our tax system. By requiring multinational corporations to report publicly on key financial data on a country by country basis, governments will also dramatically increase the incentive for these corporations to pay their taxes in the jurisdictions where the economic activity takes place and value is created. This is not only key to achieving financial stability and development in Europe, but also in the world’s poorest countries, where corporate tax avoidance is strongly undermining sustainable development and the fight against poverty, public country-by-country reporting is the most cost effective and efficient way of ensuring they have timely and low-cost access to this crucial information. Public country by country reporting will also help flag up corruption risks by shedding light on any special arrangements between companies and governments.

Progress on Global Taxes? (February 5, 2010)

In recent years, political leaders and influential institutions have taken important steps toward global taxes, and have succeeded in making the topic less of a taboo in international relations. While welcoming these developments, Katarina Wahlberg of Global Policy Forum argues that the recent high-level proposals neglect the vital role global taxes can play in steering global environmental and financial policy. Moreover, these proposals fail to guarantee that the tax revenue will be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and spent in a democratic way to finance real development.

Statement by Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum/Social Watch (June 23, 2005)

This statement, made at the NGO Hearings of the General Assembly, addresses the state of Official Development Assistance (ODA) on the eve of the Millennium +5 Summit. While rich nations claim that increasing ODA is impossible due to budgetary constraints, Martens points out that global arms spending topped $1 trillion last year. Martens also criticizes the proposed International Finance Facility (IFF) because it does not incorporate the voices of poor countries, and he concludes that the only feasible way of implementing the IFF is in combination with global taxes as a means for refinancing.

Global Taxes for Global Priorities (March 2002)

A comprehensive analysis of global tax proposals, with special focus on the carbon tax and the currency transaction tax. The paper considers the political progress of these proposals and their potential for revenue raising, policy steering and redistribution, as well as other common themes.

Global Taxes and Charges: A Brief Introduction

Brief introduction for those unfamiliar with the issue of global taxes and charges.

Global Taxes and Fees: Recent Developments and Overcoming Obstacles

Major analytical paper written by Kevin Baumert of Global Policy Forum.


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Switzerland’s financial secrecy brought under human rights spotlight (March 2, 2016)

Tax avoidance and evasion represent a systemic drain on government revenues needed for the fulfillment of women’s rights and gender equality. Switzerland – arguably the world’s most important tax haven — may soon face scrutiny from the United Nations human rights system over its role in facilitating cross-border tax abuse. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — the UN body mandated to oversee compliance with governments’ legal obligations related to women’s human rights — will meet on March 7 – 11 in Geneva to identify the list of issues on which Switzerland’s review before the treaty body will focus later this year. In a joint submission, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law, the Tax Justice Network (TJN) and Berne Declaration have asked CEDAW to examine the extra-territorial impacts of Switzerland’s opaque financial legislation on women’s rights and gender equality, particularly in developing countries. (Center for Economic and Social Rights et al.)

How trade deals threaten tax justice (February 15, 2016)

"Governments should be able to change their tax systems to ensure multinationals pay their fair share and to ensure that critical public services are well funded. States must also be able to reconsider and withdraw tax breaks previously granted to multinationals if they no longer fit with national priorities. But their ability to do so, to change tax laws and pursue progressive tax policies, is limited, thanks to trade and investments agreements", says a new briefing paper by Claire Provost for transnational institute and Global Justice Now. The system of investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) has become increasingly controversial during the negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Because control over taxes is seen as core to a country’s sovereignty, many states have included tax-related ‘carve-out’ clauses in these trade and investment treaties to limit ability of corporations and other investors to sue over such disputes. But a growing number of investor-state cases have in fact challenged government tax decisions – from the withdrawal of previously granted tax breaks to multinationals to the imposition of higher taxes on profits from oil and mining. (Transnational Institute/Global Justice Now)


Overall Evaluation of the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project (October 7, 2015)

The BEPS Monitoring Group, a network of specialists concerned with the effects of international taxation on development and the reform of the international system for the taxation of transnational corporations, has recently published their General Evaluation of the BEPS Project outputs. While acknowledging the importance of the results as a first step towards a better taxation system, the report highlights a range of shortcomings. The proposals do not suggest treating multinational enterprises as a single firm, instead they emphasize the independent entity principle. Other proposals, such as the access to country by country reporting, contain unnecessary obstacles where publication would have been an easier solution. The proposals are a patch-up of existing rules, not a coherent and comprehensive set of reforms. The BEPS has, however, succeeded in opening space for more far-reaching changes.

New report: Corporate tax dodging in Malawi (June 18, 2015)

Malawi, the poorest country in the world, has lost out on US$43 million in revenue over the last six years, from a single company – the Australian mining company Paladin. The money has been lost through a combination of harmful tax incentives from the Malawian government and tax planning using treaty shopping by Paladin. What has happened is not illegal – on the contrary, the combination of tax breaks and tax planning that has resulted in this loss of crucial funds is a result of Malawian and international laws, treaties and agreements. People around the world are outraged that companies get away with paying less tax while the rest of us contribute our fair share. A new report published by ActionAid shows how governments and international tax rules allow this to happen. (ActionAid)

Commission’s action plan on corporate taxation lacks clear actions (June 18, 2015)

The European Commission has issued its new action plan entitled A fairer corporate tax system in the EU today. Europe’s trade unions support a fairer and more efficient corporate tax regime addressing tax avoidance which is robbing societies of billions of Euros to finance public services and social protection and to redistribute wealth and income. But the Commission’s plans lack clear actions. (EPSU, ETUC)

The current tax system is broken and needs reform (June 09, 2015)

The recently published declaration by ICRICT (Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation) argues that the current tax system has become obsolete as a result of globalization and the changing world economy. ICRICT states that an adjustment of the tax system is indispensable and that the efforts by OECD are not sufficient. The commission therefore aims to push governments around the world to take action. The declaration presents a set of principles and recommendations for reform. One key recommendation is to abolish the separate entity principle which is considered to be the fundamental problem of the current tax system. ICRICT recommends to treat multinational corporations as single and unified firms and to divide the taxable profits between the countries where the income generating activities are located. (ICRICT)

Money Talks: Africa at the G7 (June 02, 2015)

At their forthcoming summit in Germany, G7 leaders will meet some of their African counterparts to discuss how they can support economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. According to a recent report published by Oxfam International, the continent has enjoyed a recent economic boom but the rich world is reaping the rewards of this growth, as billions of dollars a year flow out of Africa. This is depriving it of vital revenue that could enable it to fund healthcare and education for all, and invest at scale in sustainable agriculture. The report states that in 2010 alone, G7-based companies and investors cheated Africa out of an estimated $US6bn through just one form of tax dodging –trade mispricing. (Oxfam International)

Expert Commission Responds to One-Sided Tax Debate (March 12, 2015)

Responding to widespread anger about corporate tax avoidance, the impacts of such avoidance on inequality and poverty, and concerns that current tax reform processes are inadequate, a new nonpartisan body,— the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), has been established to propose reforms from the perspective of the public interest. ICRICT was initiated by a broad coalition that includes Action Aid, Alliance-Sud, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Christian Aid, the Council for Global Unions, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Oxfam, Public Services International, Tax Justice Network and the World Council of Churches and is supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. (Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation)

NGOs remind Juncker of effective tax policies (March 5, 2015)

Several European NGOs are urging Jean-Claude Juncker, President oft he European Commission, to step up the ambition level for a comprehensive tax reform package for the EU. Several scandals have recently shaken the continent and shown that EU members are damaging themselves and one another with unfair and divisive tax policies. Furthermore, EU policies and positions are making it difficult for countries in the Global South to raise urgently needed resources to fund the realization of human rights. To this end, the organizations are calling for a set of concrete policy reforms that could be enacted and supported by the EU.

Unhappy Meal: €1 Billion in Tax Avoidance on the Menu at McDonald's (March 5, 2015)

A new report "Unhappy Meal: €1 Billion in Tax Avoidance on the Menu at McDonald's" by EFFAT, EPSU, SEIU and War on Want outlines in detail what the authors call tax avoidance strategies adopted by McDonald’s and their tax impact both throughout Europe and in major markets like France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. The practice, the coalition says, essentially consisted of moving the European headquarters from the UK to Switzerland as well as using intra-group royalty payments and channeling them into a tiny Luxembourg based subsidiary with a Swiss branch. Between 2009 and 2013, the Luxembourg-based structure, which employs 13 people, registered a cumulative revenue of €3,7 billion, on which it reported a meager €16 million in tax. (European Federation of Public Service Unions)

Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More (January 20, 2015)

Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite. These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists. This briefing explains Oxfam’s methodology and data sources and updates key inequality statistics, such as Oxfam’s frequently cited fact in 2014: ‘85 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population.' (Oxfam International)


New Report: Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012 (December 15, 2014)

Washington based think tank Global Financial Integrity has launched its latest edition of “Illicit Financial Flows from the Developing World: 2003-2012.” The study finds that developing and emerging economies lost US$6.6 trillion in illicit financial flows from 2003 through 2012, with illicit outflows increasing at an staggering average rate of 9.4 percent per year—roughly twice as fast as global GDP. This study is GFI’s 2014 annual global update on illicit financial flows from developing economies, and it is the fifth annual update of GFI’s 2008 report, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006.” This is the first report to include estimates of illicit financial flows from developing countries in 2012—which the study pegs at US$991.2 billion (Global Financial Integrity).

Luxembourg Leaks: Secret Tax Deals of Multinationals Exposed (November 6, 2014)

Based on a review of 28,000 pages of leaked documents the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and a team of more than 80 journalists from 26 countries say, international companies such as IKEA, FedEx, Pepsi and Procter & Gamble had channeled hundreds of billions of dollars through Luxembourg and slashed billions from their global tax bills. The leaked documents come from Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Luxembourg and include hundreds of private tax rulings – or so-called “comfort letters” – that Luxembourg provides to corporations seeking favorable tax treatment. The leak comes after months of Luxembourg refusing to supply information about its tax rulings to the EU to support investigations into whether Luxembourg’s tax deals with Amazon and Fiat Finance were in violation of EU law.

Going Offshore: How development finance institutions support the private sector through tax havens (November 4, 2014)

Developing countries lose billions of dollars every year through tax avoidance and evasion. Tax havens play a pivotal role in this by providing low or no taxation and by promising secrecy, allowing businesses to dodge taxes and remain largely unaccountable for their actions. Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are government-controlled institutions that, as this report shows, often support private sector projects that are routed through tax havens, using scarce public money. By supporting projects in this way, DFIs are helping to reinforce the offshore industry as they are providing income and legitimacy. Eurodad’s latest report “Going Offshore” looks not only at DFIs’ use of tax havens, but also at their standards when deciding where to channel their money. It also looks at the level of due diligence and portfolio transparency of these institutions as a way to assess civil society’s ability to hold them to account.

The tenacious struggle of the states against corporate tax avoidance (October 17, 2014)

The long struggle of governments to combat tax evasion and avoidance by multinational enterprises continues unabated. However, if the most recent developments in negotiations around the OECD’s anti-BEPS project and discussions concerning the upcoming G20 summit in Australia in November are any indication, it does not look as if any significant progress will be made to turn the tide of tax abuse – at least not in the near future. Indeed, more entrenched problems, such as tax competition among countries (leading to ever lower taxation rates) and the disadvantages faced by developing countries under the current international tax regime are yet to be addressed. In his article below, WEED’s Markus Henn discusses these issues and provides a critical overview of the anti-BEPS actions that have been proposed by the OECD so far

The Great Rip Off: Anonymous company owners and the threat to American interests (September 25, 2014)

Owners of anonymous companies registered in U.S. states are ripping off innocent people and businesses across America, says a new report by Global Witness. Drawing on 22 cases involving anonymous companies from 27 states, The Great Rip Off shows how fraudsters, mobsters, money-launderers, tax-evaders and corrupt politicians are able to use anonymously-owned American companies to cover their tracks and evade the authorities. (Global Witness)

A coalition of 33 European civil society organizations, Global Policy Forum among them, recently submitted a critical contribution to the ‘European Commission's consultation regarding the potential economic consequences of country-by-country reporting’ (CBCR) under the so-called Capital Requirements Directive IV. The purpose of the consultation is to collect information and obtain input from all interested stakeholders on the potential economic consequences of public disclosure by banks and investment firms of CBCR information. It aims to highlight in particular the effects of CBCR on competitiveness, investment and credit availability, and the stability of the financial system. Overall, the coalition argues that CBCR will have a positive impact on the economy, though they maintain that improvements should still be made.

The BEPS Process: Failing to Deliver For Developing Countries (September 16, 2014)

ActionAid UK has released a report that outlines why the OECD’s base erosion and profit sharing (BEPS) project, which aims to put a halt to tax dodging, will not work to the benefit of poor countries. Three reasons for this are identified: BEPS sidesteps many important issues for poor countries, developing countries are not part of the negotiations around new international tax rules, and the proposed BEPS solutions are weak and in many cases impractical. This report comes in the wake of the OECD’s launch of the 2014 BEPS deliverables as part of its Action Plan on BEPS, which has achieved little by way of addressing the tax reform needs of developing countries. (actionaid)

Debate in Delaware on Tackling Anonymous Companies (July 28, 2014)

More than 1 million companies are incorporated in Delaware, which is more than the actual number of living residents. That number includes 50% of all publicly-traded companies in the U.S. and 64% of the Fortune 500. This is no accident; Delaware law grants attractive tax arrangements and other measures that attract businesses to incorporate there. These measures have paid off – in 2011 alone, Delaware collected roughly $860 million in taxes and fees from these companies – about a quarter of the state’s total budget. But there’s a shadow side to Delaware’s status as an incorporation hub. Around the world, drug dealers, dictators and arms dealers use networks of shell companies with hidden ownership to launder their ill-gotten gains and evade authorities – allowing them to cause harm to millions of people around the world. "This week, a debate has started in Delaware about its role as a corporate secrecy haven," writes Mark Hays in a Global Witness blog. (Global Witness)

How tax policy can contribute to gender equality (July 02, 2014)

The latest report of the British NGO Christian Aid “Taxing Men and Women: why gender is crucial for a fair tax system” deals with the different effects of tax systems in men and women as well as possibilities how prudent fiscal and tax policy can contribute to gender equality. Whereas a lot of literature exists on the consideration of gender aspects on the spending side of national budgets, this report marks a first step to analyze state revenues with regard to gender equality. Christian Aid provides several recommendations for actors on different levels – civil society organizations, governments and tax authorities in countries of the global south – on how to work towards gender-sensitive tax systems. Furthermore, the authors point to the lack of available data that currently prevents further progress on this issue and to the need of further empirical studies. (Christian Aid)

CSOs protest as European Commission hires PricewaterhouseCoopers to assess corporate transparency (July 02, 2014)

Yesterday, a broad alliance of civil society organizations including Global Policy Forum sent an open letter to the European Commission to protest against the assessment of country by country reporting by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Since PricewaterhauseCoopers - one of the "Big Four" audit firms - is a known opponent of public country by country reporting, letting them assess this crucial tool for preventing corporate tax dodging would be the same logic as to set the fox to guard the henhouse. (Eurodad)

UN Special Rapporteur: Tax policy major determinant in enjoyment of human rights (June 26, 2014)

During the current session of the UN Human Rights Council the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, presented a report by his predecessor Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona concerning fiscal and tax policy, poverty and human rights. The report stresses the role of fiscal and taxation policy as a major determinant in the enjoyment of human rights and makes some reccommendations how to make the global tax system more effective, equitable and transparent. (UN Specicial Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights)

How TNCs deprive African countries of billions through trade misinvoicing (May 12, 2014)

Global Financial Integrity published a report funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark analyzing the impact of trade misinvoicing on Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. According to the report, under- and over-invoicing of trade transactions in the period between 2002 and 2011 caused a loss of US$ 14.39 billions in tax revenues in the five Sub-Saharan African countries. This means that governments lose a huge amount of their annual budget which could otherwise be spend on education, health services or infrastructure projects desperately needed in these countries. Following an estimation of the scope of this fraudulent behavior, the report also analyzes the policy environment in each country and gives country specific policy recommendations. (Global Financial Integrity)

Africa rises, but taxes don’t follow: Who benefits? (May 8, 2014)

A new report by Tax Justice Network-Africa and Christian Aid asks who benefits after a decade of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite increasing economic prosperity and some positive achievements in poverty reduction too many Sub-Sahara African countries undergo sharp rising income inequality. The report examines eight countries and whether they experiences rising inequalities. By looking at this, the researchers underline the primary importance of the relationship between national tax systems and international taxation issues in redistributing wealth. It is a challenge for governments to recognize the levels of inequalities as huge concerns and to impose effective taxes on income and property. Precisely because, as the report finds out, rising income inequality come along with the current growth model and illicit financial flows from the continent. (Righting Finance)

G20/OECD plans for global tax reform dominated by corporate interests (May 2, 2014)

On May 2nd Oxfam released the report ‘Business among Friends’ critically assessing the OECD-led ‘Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS). The negative implications of tax evasion and profit shifting for development are increasingly acknowledged among political leaders and international organizations. The amount that governments in the Global South lose annually due to illicit financial transfers but also legal means of tax evasion easily outnumbers the amount they receive in form of Official Development Aid (ODA). Nevertheless, developing countries are not involved in the process of reforming the global tax system, according to the authors. Instead, business interests dominate the negotiations. As a result, OECD-members and multinational corporations will likely benefit from BEPS at the expense of developing countries. (Oxfam)

The Political Economy of Offshore Jurisdictions (April 3, 2014)

A recently published book adds further insights into the political economy of offshore jurisdictions. It raises questions about why offshore has been off-limits for serious political discussion for so many decades. What is the importance of the offshore economy? Is online Gambling a Game Changer to Money Laundering? What is the rationale behind the Secrecy Index of Tax Justice Network? How does Automatic Tax Information Exchange work? Is Austria a tax haven? With which ideology and with which narratives was it possible to avoid public discussions about the offshore economy? Which were the effects of “offshore leaks” in the spring 2013? (Walter Otto Ötsch, Gerd Görzinger, Karl Michael Beyer, Lars Bräutigam (EDS.))

Country by Country Reporting - Tax Justice Focus (March 26, 2014)

The Tax Justice Network has released its latest newsletter - this time a special edition on Country by Country reporting edited by Richard Murphy, whom you might call the godfather of this accounting idea. He has brought together different authors from the OECD, the Confederation of British Industry, from Global Witness and Eurodad. Together they present a unique picture of the current state of the campaign for country-by-country reporting throughout the world. (Tax Justice Network)

OECD’s new info exchange standard a watershed moment? (March 20, 2014)

The OECD has published a report on a new global standard for countries and tax havens to exchange information with each other: a crucial tool for tackling offshore secrecy and tax evasion. The report represents significant progress by endorsing a principle that civil society organisations have been demanding for many years, and which has now been endorsed by the G20 finance ministers. In reaction to the report by the OECD, Tax Justice Network (TJN) publishes an analytic response on whether the OECD's new standard is indeedd a watershed moment. The OECD report, which focusses especially on due dilligence checks, a crucial element in any transparency regime, seems to have many positive details. Yet, TJN says, there are a number of shortcomings in the report, too: some technical, and some political. (Tax Justice Network)


Automatic for the people - automatic information exchange, tax justice and developing countries (November 21, 2013)

On November 21st the sixth meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes is opened in Jakarta. On this occasion, a broad coalition of organizations, including GPF, has issued a position paper on Automatic Information Exchange (AIE) for tax purposses. If a person or entity resident in one jurisdiction owns income-generating assets in another jurisdiction, the resident's tax authorities generally need to know about that asset or income, to assess their tax liabities. To obtain that kind of information, countries and jurisdictions have entered into information exchange agreements. After this year's G20 meeting, a standard for the information exchange to happen automaticly is taking shape. The position paper examines the current situation and emphasizes the challenges developing countries face in participation in AIE, the options for meeting these challenges, and the risks of not addressing the integration of developing countries at the start of this process.

Automatic information exchange – but properly done (November 19, 2013)

If a person or entity resident in one jurisdiction owns income-generating assets in another jurisdiction, the resident's tax authorities generally need to know about that asset or income, to assess their tax liabities. Nevertheless jurisdictions so far lack the ability to exchange information with each other on a regular basis. After the G20 Summit this year, automatic tax information sharing will soon become an international standard. But Switzerland insists on the most restrictive possible conditions when it comes to implementation – to the clear disadvantage of developing countries. (alliance sud)

Demand Human Rights-consistent Tax Policies (November 18, 2013)

The tax structure and the level of revenue collection, budget allocations and expenditure influence the ability of governments to fulfill their human rights obligations and tackle discrimination and structural inequalities. The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, is preparing to submit a report concerning fiscal and tax policy, poverty and human rights. Governments have been asked to respond the questionnaire prepared by the Special Rapporteur in order to gather information on domestic fiscal and spending policies, in particular their impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society. The Special Rapporteur will compile different inputs on a report which will include policy recommendations to States and provide a framework for monitoring States’ compliance with human rights obligations. You can contribute to the design and impact of this report. (Social Watch)

Philippines: Three reasons why the 2014 national budget is prone to misuse (October 22, 2013)

Prof. Leonor Magtolis-Briones from Social Watch Philippines gives three reasons why the Philippines 2014 national budget is prone to misuse. Social Watch Philippines analyses the government’s annual spending budgets and releases alternative budgets through its Alternative Budget Initiative to influence the national budgets to become more supportive in creating a sustainable environment and more equitable society for the Philippines. The following is an edited version of a piece originally entitled Speaking for Myself: The 2014 National Budget, Special Purpose Funds, Pork Barrel, at Iba Pa.

Money laundering and the reform of the Money Laundering Directive (October 10, 2013)

At the level of the European Union a new anti-money laundering directive is currently under way. German NGO World Economy, Ecology and Developmet (WEED) has recently taken up the issue in a factsheet and focusses on the situation in Germany specifically. Contrary to popular perception, Germany is a popular destination for money laundering activities. Being a liquid market with high cash flow makes the country attractive while also complicating the monitoring of financial flows. Its central location between Eastern and Western Europe makes Germany an ideal trading center. Regulatory weaknesses amplify the problem. (WEED)

Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights (October 10, 2013)

The Human Rights Institut of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) launched a new report adressing tax abuse from the perspective of human rights law and policies. The report, compilated by an expert task force, offers new insights into the links between tax abuses, poverty and human rights. This report analyses the responsibilities and remedies to counter tax abuse and delivers specific recommendations for states, businesses and the legal profession. (IBAHRI)

G20 leaders urged to fight against tax dodging (September 3, 2013)

Campaigners of 34 organizations such as Christian Aid, ActionAid International, Oxfam, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Network have endorsed a briefing on the fight against tax dodging. In their statement from 31st August they forcefully warn the members of G20 countries' summit meeting in St. Petersburg on 5th and 6th September to declare reforms on the global tax system and make transnational corporations pay their fair share. Moreover the campaigners present concrete reform steps but insist on a participation of developing countries in negotiations.

Switzerland Prepares New Legislation on the Returning of Stolen Assets (April 23, 2013)

Switzerland prepares a new law on blocking and returning stolen assets, reports Alliance Sud, the Swiss Alliance of Development Organizations. The new law on returning assets when legal support from the source country is inadequate should be more widely applicable than its predecessor. At the moment the law applies only to states that have no functioning governance. Speeding up the processes lasting years or even decades should also be sped up by legislation.

Tax Injustice Exacerbating Hunger in Developing Countries (March/May 2013)

In a recent report, the British NGO Christian Aid points to the grave problems arising in developing countries when multinational corporations (MNCs) avoid taxes. The ensuing tax losses exacerbate the already difficult situation of the hungry in developing countries as state revenues are diminished. In the report “Who Pays the Price? Hunger: the Hidden Cost of Tax Injustice” Christian Aid digs into the problems caused by tax evasion. The paper provides statistical research on MNCs’ activities in three case study countries, exemplifies tax havens' role by the case of Switzerland and provides recommendations for policy making. In two additional papers the issues are reflected further.

The World Social Forum reviews debt and taxes: who pays, who profits and why? (May 2, 2013)

While most of the world’s population was reeling from one of the globe’s multiple crises, social movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) gathered at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunisia in March of 2013 in search of alternatives. The country where the Arab Spring started in late 2010 was a great choice to host the WSF in 2013. Inspired by the successful campaign to overthrow the autocratic regime of Ben Ali three years ago, Tunisian civil society is amazingly active, highly motivated and convinced that civil society activism can actually make social change happen. By Bodo Ellmers (eurodad)

Environmental tax reform in countries of the South (April 22, 2013)

In our series of papers coming out of the international conference „Tax Justice – Human Rights – Future Justice” in Berlin on the 27th November 2012, we are happy to present the latest edition on „Environmantal tax reform in countries of the South“. The paper ist he ninth in our  series of Policy briefs „Info Steuergerechtigkeit“ on issues of tax justice, published in cooperation with the Tax Justice Network Germany.

Venting Public Outrage: Capping Bonuses Will Matter Little (March 4, 2013)

As of January 2014, the EU could cap banker bonuses to a maximum of one year’s salary, or twice their salary pending shareholder approval. It aims to prevent risky investments, particularly in investment banks that were incentivized through lavish compensation packages. However, the rule initially faced strong opposition from Germany and now the UK, fearing their financial sector would suffer from a competitive disadvantage. Critics feel that EU banks operating abroad could stand to lose employees to their competitors and may need to boost salaries or pension packages to compensate, making them more vulnerable to risk. A look at Deutsche Bank, however, shows that the rule will likely affect less than 1% of all employees and its unclear how foreign operations will be affected. Furthermore, the problem with today’s financial industry is the lack of accountability yet over-dependence of banks on government bailouts that together with sizeable bonuses fosters risky behavior. Thus, without addressing this underlying issue, the bonus cap is unlikely to bring stability. (Spiegel)

Taxes and Human Rights (February, 2013)

A policy brief published by the Tax Justice Network explores how gaps in fiscal tax policy obstruct the realization of human rights by reducing available financial resources. Tax policies enable governments to mobilize resources needed for providing essential public goods and services or help in redistributing the wealth preventing inequality and allowing realization of human rights. Frameworks to assess effective utilization of resources are often weak in quantifying available resources or in determining the causes of low tax revenues. National-level obstacles in tax derived finances can be overcome by fiscal policy reforms, stronger regulatory institutions, although poorer countries are limited by international framework conditions. The report highlights various international agreements that draw important connections between fiscal policy and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. Greater focus must be placed on using these instruments in addressing global tax evasion, lack of transparency and cooperation between tax authorities (Tax Justice Network Germany).

Eleven EU Nations Take on 'Financial Elite' with Robin Hood Tax (January 23, 2013)

On January 22nd, a group of 11 EU nations approved a Financial Transaction Tax between 0.01- 0.1% aimed at discouraging risky trading by the financial industry and allow the industry to contribute to tax revenues. Nicknamed the Robin Hood Fund, the FTT can become effective by next year following approval of the final legislation. It can potentially raise £37bn a year in additional revenue that some say should be used towards social development and environmental funds like the Green Climate Fund. Observers including Oxfam, stress the need for directing funds for the poor that were hit the hardest by the crisis, with 2.5 million people now facing unemployment in Europe (Common Dreams).


On Taxing the Rich, a Top Pol Breaks Ranks (March 3, 2012)

In the decades right after the second World War, the world’s top industrial nations routinely subjected their highest income earners to tax rates of 70, 80, and even 90 percent. However, when conservatives swept power in Britain and the US - Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan respectively - they obliterated steeply progressive tax rates. Today, no mainstream political leader would dare to propose anything that goes beyond a 50% top tax rate. Last Monday, the presidential candidate of the French Socialist Party Franḉois Hollande broke with this trend, pledging to enact a 75% top rate tax if elected this May. Made in the midst of the presidential race, this announcement needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Notwithstanding, the pledge in itself ought to be welcomed as it breaks with an unchallenged taboo in the political mainstream. (Institute for Policy Studies)

Europe’s Tobin Tax Distraction (February 9, 2012)

Europe’s political leaders intend to introduce a financial transaction tax (FTT) as a key part of their efforts to contain and solve the financial and economic crisis. The levy – modeled after James Tobin’s eponymous currency tax – is supposed to end financial market volatility and generate revenues to deal with government debt. Earlier versions were proposed to finance outstanding development aid commitments, commitments that are yet again shelved in the name of self-interest. Economist Barry Eichengreen argues that the proposed FTT will miss its mark and can only be understood in terms of political gain rather than economic sense. Even though an FTT will decrease the number of transactions, it will mainly incentivize investors to go elsewhere and do nothing to mitigate Europe’s critical banking problem. (Project Syndicate)

Taking on the Speculators - What Would a European Tobin Tax Really Mean? (January 11, 2012)

Nicolas Sarkozy has long been advocating for the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in Europe. Pursuing the aim of redistributing wealth and influence, the tax is presented as an ideal tool to exert greater control over financial markets while at the same time raising revenues to finance development. This week the French President won the backing of the German Chancellor who, besides facing opposition within her own coalition government,  stated that “personally, I’m in favor of thinking about such a tax in the Euro Zone” if necessary without Britain, Europe's largest financial center.  This Spiegel article explains how a European FTT would work, what its main advantages and disadvantages are and whether it is feasible to think about a European FTT without one of its greatest economic powers. (Spiegel Online)


Tiny Tax on Financial Trades Gains Advocates (December 6, 2011)

This New York Times article highlights different points of view on a prospective Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), a small levy on financial transactions that is gaining broad public support. All versions of an FTT share the simultaneous goals of countering financial market volatilities and raising revenues. They differ, however, on the height of the tax and the allocation of revenues. Whereas several countries and advocates are attempting to steer current momentum towards the use of revenues for domestic projects, the FTT’s most influential supporters underline its original and most pressing redistributive goal: increasing development aid. It is this goal and that of preempting future financial crises that trump opportunistic arguments in favor of large investors and budget balancing in rich countries. (The New York Times)

Emerging Economies Join G20 Coalition to Tax Speculation (November 4, 2011) 

Last week’s G20 summit in Cannes elicited mixed reactions within the development community regarding the process made towards a G20-wide agreement on taxing financial transactions. World leaders promoting a financial transactions tax were praised by activists and development workers. France, Germany, Spain, the European Commission, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina joined the "coalition of the willing" in support of the tax. Conversely, the opposition from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States was sharply criticized. (Institute for Policy Study)

To Ease the Crisis, Tax Financial Transactions (September 28, 2011)

In this op-ed piece, Philippe Douste-Blazy, a former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and current UNITAID Chairman, argues for the swift imposition of a small Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). A levy on all types of financial and currency transactions, the tax would serve to slow down activity of otherwise volatile markets, soften the effects of the financial crisis and secure countries’ commitments to development aid. Convinced of its moral imperative and practical feasibility, Douste-Blazy underlines the fact that revenues should not only be used to solve Western budgetary problems but particularly to honor extant aid commitments and aid commitments more recently generated by the “casino-style trading” of Western financial institutions. (New York Times)

France Steps Up Support for Financial Transaction Tax (September 16, 2011)

France’s adoption of a resolution to introduce a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) shows an unprecedented willingness among the world’s governments to consider a tax aimed at funding development at home and abroad. According to the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development, a FTT of 0.5 percent on transactions could raise $409 billion dollars a year globally. Not only civil society but also governments, are now asking: If the financial sector benefits from globalization, why should it notcontribute to redress the problems created by this very process? (Inter Press Service)

Financial Crisis 2: Rise of the Machines (August 22, 2011)

This report by the Robin Hood Tax campaign warns of the rapid increases in “high frequency trading” (HFT) and promotes a tax-based remedy. HFTs are computer-driven trades that use algorithms to buy and sell large amounts of financial products that meet specific criteria, and do so at lightning speeds. Apart from the already worrisome volatility and price-increases that HFTs create, different algorithms can collide and create a “flash crash” that has the potential to ignite a financial crisis. The application of a small tax could not only reduce the incentive to partake in this form of trading, but also raise funds for sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. (Robin Hood Tax)

The Robin Hood Tax: A Small Step for Capitalism, a Big Stride for Development (August 23, 2011)

In this contribution to the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Mark Lawson of Oxfam comments on a new report by the Robin Hood tax campaign that warns of the rapid increases in “high frequency trading” (HFT) and promotes a tax-based remedy. HFTs are computer-driven trades that use algorithms to buy and sell large amounts of financial products that meet specific criteria, and do so at lightning speeds. Apart from the already worrisome volatility and price-increases that HFTs create, different algorithms can collide and create a “flash crash” that has the potential to ignite a financial crisis. According to Mark Lawson, a small tax on HFTs could not only slowdown HSTs, but also raise revenues that should be redistributed towards “helping poor people at home and abroad”. (Guardian)

Poor Countries Fight For Reform of Global Tax Systems (July 27, 2011)

In Geneva, global leaders are debating a controversial global tax deal. According to leaders of the larger developing countries, the deal on the table still allows for tax avoidance by multinationals, which has been "eating into the fiscal base of many countries”. Brazil, Mexico, and other developing countries want to gain more influence in this area by challenging the OECD’s privilege to set global tax rules. Conversely, the US and EU want the OECD to continue dominating global tax policy. As a quarter of the G20 supports global tax restructuring, including future chair Mexico , developed countries should reassess global tax rules and possibly work closer with the UN’s tax committee; an institution that is known for its effectiveness and ability to advise developing countries on issues of taxation. (Guardian)


Africa May Have Lost $1 trillion to Tax Evasion (April 1, 2010)

According to a new report released by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), more that $1 trillion may have flowed out of Africa illegally over the last decade. Most of this loss is due to tax evasion by multinational companies, most is deposited in western financial institutions. This scourge eats into African economies and the tax base that should be a broad source of resources for development. GFI calls on the G20 to crack down on this illicit practice. (The Guardian)

"Strictly Confidential" Report by IMF on Financial Transaction Taxes (April 2010)

The G20 is currently discussing different ways to recuperate public funds spent on bank bailouts in the recent global crisis. This discussion has given rise to the possibility of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), long advocated by NGOs because it would create vast public revenues and restrain speculation. However, in this paper the IMF expresses little enthusiasm for the FTT advocating for a temporary flat tax of bank holdings instead. The publication shows the IMF's dedication to avoid game-changing reforms of the financial sector, and signifies the still powerful role of the IMF in global policy making. (IMF)

Europe Dithers on 'Tobin Tax' (March 25, 2010)

The European Parliament adopted by a wide margin a resolution calling on the European Commission to develop a plan for an EU-wide financial transaction tax (FTT).  But in a sign that the Parliament is not the master of policy in the post-Lisbon environment, a recent meeting of EU leaders failed to take a decision on the matter, issuing only a lukewarm statement about the need to reach agreement before the G-20 summit in June.  Some European governments see FTTs as a new revenue source for their general budgets or as a means to strengthen the public treasury after the billions spent on bank bailouts and stimulus packages, but others (such as the UK) are adamantly opposed.  NGO campaigners see the tax as a potential multibillion euro source for development assistance, climate response and other public priorities. (IDN)

A Tobin Tax? The Outré is Back in (February 5, 2010)

Finance ministers of the G7 who recently met in Canada had an unusual item on the agenda – a tax on international financial transactions. This tax could help stabilize markets and raises substantial public funds. Governments are not agreed, however, on how such revenues would be used, or who would be in charge of spending. But the proposal has come a long way in a short time, boosted by government fears and revenue needs arising from the economic crisis.  (Globe and Mail)


One Answer to Global Warming: A New Tax (September 16, 2007)

This New York Times article argues that both US Democrats and Republicans could support global taxes on carbon emissions. Opponents of carbon taxes have argued that such a tax would cause excess harm to private consumers, and disproportionately impact the poor. The author suggests, however, that the tax revenues can be used to reverse the effects on the poor. Proponent suggest a carbon tax allows the world's governments to take a long-term perspective on climate change and the future needs of poor economies in a way that the competing cap-and-trade system does not allow.

Time to Tax the Carbon Dodgers (April 5, 2007)

This BBC commentary calls for a tax on exports from wealthy countries – such as the US and Australia – that have refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. The author argues that the tax would encourage these governments to "develop responsible climate policies" and could "redress the balance" of production costs between countries that pay for their CO2 emissions and those that "won't take climate change seriously."


Fraction of Oil Profits Sought for Poorest Nations (August 24, 2006)

The UN Under Secretary General for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) suggested that oil-producing nations should donate ten cents per barrel for infrastructure in LDCs. Among the reasons cited, the UN official listed growing oil profits, under-funded development projects and increasing poverty in many LDCs. Still, Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute cautions against over-anticipation of increased aid, mentioning that 17 of the 22 richest countries give less aid than the UN-proposed 0.7% of gross national product. (Inter Press Service)

UN Struggles to Find a Voice on Global Taxation (August 21, 2006)

Embodied in a strongly oppositional letter from the Senate leadership to the US President before the 2006 G8 meeting, US hostility towards global taxation intensifies. While the conservative group America's Survival warns that the UN actively plans to introduce a global tax, Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg stresses that, so far, talks on global taxes have taken place primarily outside the UN. According to Wahlberg the US opposition reflects resistance to a more independent UN. (Tax Notes International)

Brasilia Conference, 6-7 July 2006: A Continuing Dynamic Process (July 26, 2006)

This Stamp out Poverty & World Economy, Ecology & Development paper reports on the Brasilia follow up conference to the "Paris Ministerial on Innovative Financing for Development." Since the Paris meeting, five more countries have joined the Air Ticket Levy (ATL) and the group will launch the "International Drug Purchasing Facility" at the 2006 General Assembly high-level meeting. The authors further report on continued support for a currency transaction tax (CTT) making the time ripe for a "pilot CTT." The report expresses concern that several Northern European countries are not participating sufficiently in the alternative financing process, and that some governments may use revenues for non-developmental purposes.

The Brasilia Conference on Innovative Financing Mechanisms - Report of the Conference in Brasilia, Brazil (July 6-7, 2006)

This paper from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation analyzes the main outcomes of the Brasilia follow-up conference to the "Paris Ministerial on Innovative Financing for Development." The author commends the conference's additional momentum on alternative financing. He further highlights the strong NGO presence at the conference, which ensured that "government representatives were exposed to the full menu of options for additional financing mechanisms." But the paper also reports on NGO regret that governing structures of the "International Drug Purchasing Facility" remain undefined. Moreover the intergovernmental initiative fails to recognize how intellectual property rights impede drug sale in poor countries.

Plenary Session of the Pilot Group on Innovative Financial Mechanisms, Brasilia, (July 6-7, 2006)

Representatives from forty countries along with international and nongovernmental organizations gathered in Brasilia to discuss alternative development financing as a follow-up to the Paris Ministerial held in March. This chair's summary reports that countries are making progress on the Airline Ticket Levy and the International Drug Purchase Facility. Also participants discussed tax evasion with several proposing a specific conference on the topic. The chair further notes a broad consensus on the need for "civil society" participation in the governance of these initiatives. (Leading Group on Solidarity Levies to Fund Development)

From Concept to Reality: On the Present State of the Debate on International Taxes (June 2006)

Global taxes can both generate revenue and have a regulatory effect. This report discusses the possibility of an international tax- for example on currency transfers, airline tickets, or carbon emissions. Each country could use the tax revenues towards health, environmental, or otherwise related global initiatives. This added source of income would assist in reaching the Millennium Development Goals and improving the worldwide standard of living. (Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Innovative Sources of Finance after the Paris Conference (April 2006)

With France and Chile implementing air-ticket taxes in 2006, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation provides an overview of the Paris conference outcome. Apart from the air-ticket tax, the report also analyzes other initiatives to raise additional money for development. A group of rich countries will set up an International Finance Facility (IFF) to frontload aid for immunization. But, unlike taxes on currency trade and carbon emissions, the IFF initiative will not increase development funds in the long term, nor will it have any positive spill-over on the international financial system or the environment.


International Taxation: Regulating Globalisation – Financing Development (May 2005)

This World Economy, Ecology and Development (WEED) paper discusses international taxes and their roles in "regulating and shaping globalization." Arguing that the taxes are "necessary and realistic," the study examines vital developments towards global taxes, including Belgium's adoption of the currency transaction tax and the French-Brazilian initiative to promote global taxes to finance development.

Development Committee Communiqué (April 17, 2005)

The Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund affirmed their support of the Millennium Development Goals. In this document they express their will to discuss "the most promising nationally applied and internationally coordinated taxes" at the annual meetings.

New Resources of Financing for Development: A Review of Options (April 5, 2005)

This working paper from the European Commission discusses taxes on air fuel, flight departure and currency trade. While global tax supporters often emphasize that the tax revenue should be additional to increases in Official Development Assistance (ODA), this paper suggest that such taxes could in fact finance ODA.


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