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Church News

Church leaders call for Govt not to help companies in tax havens

Several church denomination representatives have asked the Chancellor to refuse to financially help out organisations which they claim have avoided paying taxes for years. 

The letter has been signed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and leaders in the Methodist Church, Baptist Union and United Reformed Church. 

Published in The Times on Monday, they point out the inequality between wealthy business owners and individuals who contribute to the state every year: "We welcome the decisions of the Danish, Polish and French governments to refuse bailouts for corporations registered in tax havens. During this crisis many of the most vulnerable people in our society are paying the price for a health and welfare system woefully unprepared for a pandemic. Meanwhile, some large corporations continue to avoid responsibility, making huge profits yet hiding their wealth in tax havens. 

"More than 80 per cent of the British public believe that legal tax avoidance is morally wrong. This crisis demonstrates why they are right. Today at least $8 trillion sits offshore, with its wealthy owners hiding from their tax and social responsibilities. Developing countries are deprived of up to $400 billion every year by tax dodging."

The clergy ask for the coronavirus pandemic to be a moral turning point in how our economic system works, arguing: "When the pandemic ends we cannot go back to business as usual. If we are to build an economic system that prioritises the wellbeing of people and the planet then a fair tax system where all pay their fair share is essential. This means that wages and working conditions are just and that corporations and wealthy individuals can no longer dodge the taxes they should have paid. We call on our government to foster a fair tax system that serves the common good."

Other signatories were Lord Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford; Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference; Revd David Mayne, Moderator, the Baptist Union Council; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk Quakers in Britain; Mr Derek Estill, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church; Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church and David Haslam, Chair at Church Action for Tax Justice. 

The Chancellor was asked about this very issue in the House of Commons on Monday by Labour MP Peter Kyle. 

Mr Sunak did not state any plans to ban companies that avoid paying tax from financial support but said: "We are all in this together."

"It is right that during this process people act responsibly, and that is something I have urged all businesses to do."

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