Let’s be honest – a tropical tax haven island looks a bit out of place in Belfast.
The reason why we brought palm trees and deckchairs to the heart of the city was to highlight new research showing the kind of scenario people want to avoid as a result of any change to Northern Ireland’s corporation tax rate.
• 92% of people in NI say governments should ensure big firms pay tax in poor countries which need more revenue to tackle poverty;
• 89% are concerned that when big companies and wealthy individuals use tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of tax, ordinary people pay the price because of the impact on public services;
• 87% say that ending this tax avoidance should be a priority for Theresa May’s government;
• 88% of those polled say the public have a right to know where big companies are making profits and paying tax;
• 80% say the gap between the richest and the rest of society is rising and making Northern Ireland a more unequal place
Help us make tax fair in Northern Ireland and across the UK - tell Prime Minister Theresa May to tackle tax dodging.
With Northern Ireland set to take control of corporation tax in 2018, it’s clear from this survey that there is overwhelming public support to ensure any new proposed tax regime here is fair, open and transparent – and that it does not negatively impact on vulnerable people.
Any reform of the corporate tax system needs to contain safeguards preventing companies from taking advantage to avoid tax owed elsewhere – otherwise there is a risk that Northern Ireland could be used as a tax haven.
What we mean by safeguards includes making multinational companies publish tax information for all countries where they are present. In addition, we want to see the establishment of a public centralised register of beneficial ownership that would allow citizens here and in developing countries to know who is really behind companies and trusts.
What’s needed is an economic policy that will bring jobs, prosperity and stability to the province, without being at the expense of essential public services in Northern Ireland or in poor countries.
The Stormont Executive has an opportunity to create a best in class tax system that reflects genuine economic activity and works for the people of Northern Ireland, not against them. This should take into consideration the local and global dimensions of tax avoidance and its impact.
The impact of tax dodging can seem like an abstract thing but it has a very real human cost. An estimated $100bn (approximately £79bn) is lost to developing countries every year because of tax dodging by multinationals. Every school that is not built, every medicine that is not bought for lack of government funds due to tax dodging affects thousands of men, women and children across the world.
Our Make Tax Fair campaign highlights that tax dodging is starving developing countries of the money needed for education, healthcare and tackling poverty.