People using tax havens have deprived governments worldwide of £100 billion in revenue, enough to end extreme poverty twice over, according to new figures published by Oxfam. The total amount of lost tax revenue is far higher than £100 billion, as the figure only includes tax dodged by individuals, and not companies.
And a high proportion of tax evasion takes place on British offshore tax havens, with more than a third of the £12 trillion held in tax havens around the globe believed to be held in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, according to Oxfam estimates.
Emma Seery, Oxfam’s head of development finance and public services, said: “These figures put the UK at the centre of a global tax system that is a colossal betrayal of people here and in the poorest countries who are struggling to get by, and put the Government on the side of the privileged few. If they want to get on the right side of this debate, now is the time to take action.
“Britain’s credibility is on the line; talking tough on tax, whilst continuing to usher a third of the world’s wealth into UK tax havens, risks making a mockery of David Cameron’s leadership at the G8 Summit in June.”
The figures were released when Prime Minister David Cameron was attending a European Council meeting in Brussels where European heads of state discussed the global tax system and tax evasion. Oxfam has called for a blacklist of tax havens and agreement that EU member states will impose sanctions against tax havens and those using them to try and tackle evasion.
Emma Seery said: “David Cameron and George Osborne continue to tour the world making promises to clamp down on tax havens, but so far they’ve done absolutely nothing to make tax deals work for poor countries.
“The UK and Europe cannot stand by and watch more people fall victim to the bite of austerity whilst billions are lost from the public purse on their watch. Unless the EU agrees a tax havens black list and clear sanctions, we’ll get little more than hot air from leaders.”
Oxfam is part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which is calling on the G8 to make all tax havens join a multilateral agreement to share tax information to end the secrecy of tax havens.