Posts Tagged ‘tax justice’



November 25, 2013

I was in the wrong place this morning, at the conference on Tax Justice: Are You Serious? organised by various NGOs.  It was interesting, but it was clearly a campaigning event and I’m not signing up to the campaign, not just yet.  Not because I don’t believe they’re right to seek tax justice, but because I’m not quite sure there’s any clarity there about what we mean by “tax justice”.  (A particular low point was the vehement person arguing from the floor that organisations should campaign for people to refrain from using ISAs in the same way environmentalists campaign to get people to change their personal use of resources.  Just, no, sorry – as, to be fair, the speakers quickly clarified.)

My interest in the campaign is in the interface between fairness and expertise – as the tax tweeters immediately identified when the conference was first mooted “there’s no-one on the panel who knows anything about tax”.  Richard Murphy, Richard Brooks and Prem Sikka presumably being considered not to know anything about tax because they disagree with the argument that labels Margaret Hodge a “tax prat”.

I have three suggestions for how the campaign could be taken forward, though.

1. Use the mechanisms that already exist.  The government puts its tax legislation out for consultation.  Answer them!  I do – but what would happen if a hundred thousand people did?

2. Use the opportunities that already exist.  The government asks for ideas for the Budget (the Treasury confirmed in an email to me on 21st November that

A call for suggestions for Budget 2014 will be published [on] early in 2014, once the Chancellor has announced the date for the Budget.

Cohere around a few simple talking points and put them in as Budget Suggestions, and encourage members of membership organisations to put them in separately too.  (Happy to help if people want ideas about WHAT to suggest!)

3. Use the regulations that already exist.  The government gave a public undertaking (in a written ministerial statement) to publish TIINs with tax legislation.  The statement said that

These notes set out what the policy change is, why the Government are proposing the change and a summary of the impacts of the change.

So let’s take a look at a few – like the ones for the abolition of CFCs, and for the introduction of the Patent Box – and, oh look!  They say the policy will be subject to review.

Has anyone seen a review yet?  FoI, anyone?

Just a thought!