Shocking new statistics released by Oxfam this week have shown that governments are letting people hide at least $18.5 trillion in offshore tax havens. Yes, you read that right: not $18.5 million, or even $18.5 billion, but $18.5 trillion!
And our research shows that as much as €707 billion owned by wealthy individuals from overseas may be shielded from tax authorities around the world in Irish financial institutions, leaving Ireland open to suggestions that it’s being used as a tax haven.
“It’s time to take the side of ordinary people, rather than the privileged few. These figures put Ireland at the centre of a global tax system that is a colossal betrayal of people here and abroad” says Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland. “Now is the time to take action.”
By holding their money in offshore tax havens like San Marino and Monaco, the owners of these $18.5 trillion worth of riches pay little or no tax - while hard working people in the world's poorest countries strive to make a living and 1 in 8 go to bed hungry.
If companies and individuals paid their dues, it would total more than $150 billion - money which could be spent on schools, hospitals and libraries. As austerity bites and budgets are slashed, ordinary people across the world are losing out on billions of unpaid tax.
And these figures are just the tip of the iceberg: tax evasion by big corporations prevents hundreds of billions of dollars being paid every year. The vast majority of ordinary people pay their taxes every year, so why should the world’s richest individuals and corporations get away with dodging tax?
Now is the time to take a stand. This year's G8 takes place in June in Northern Ireland, and David Cameron has committed his G8 Presidency towards ‘getting our own house in order and helping developing countries to prosper”, while yesterday European leaders met to discuss tax.
But unless European and G8 countries follow their fine words with action, this could be a lot of hot air – or result in a deal that shuts out developing countries.
Oxfam is calling for G8 leaders to;
- Get their own tax havens to join a global deal to share tax information, so that all countries – especially the poorest – can tax companies and individuals fairly.
- Commit to making ownership of companies and other assets public, so that nobody can avoid paying tax by hiding their money or setting up phantom firms.
- Agree to get tough with tax havens when they won’t play ball.
Please share this blog post on social media to spread the word and ensure that political leaders play their part at this year's G8 Summit in Co. Fermanagh on June 17th and 18th.
Tell them that you won’t stand for the unjust tax dodging practices of the global elite.