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Release of Panama Papers Data Must Prompt Urgent Action on Tax Dodging: ActionAid

ActionAid Australia Executive Director Archie Law, commenting on the release of the Panama Papers data, said:

“Today’s release from the Panama Papers exposes the secretive web of tax havens and must lead to urgent action on tax dodging. Low income countries suffer when tax havens are used to avoid tax, with women and girls living in poverty paying the price as key public services like schools and hospitals are starved of funding. 

“Big companies and very rich individuals using tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of tax is helping global inequality to spiral out of control. The 200 richest people in the world now own more  – $3.18 trillion – than the total wealth of Africa – $2.83 trillion. That kind of massive inequality must be ended and tackling the system of global tax havens is a vital first step. 

“All countries must introduce new laws on ownership so that we actually know who owns what around the world. In Australia we must make our new country by country reporting laws public so that we know where taxes are being paid. Big business can currently hide all too easily behind the clouds of secrecy. Global tax rules must change to stop big business using tax havens to avoid tax. That would involve all countries revising or cancelling their tax treaties with tax havens and introducing stronger anti-tax haven legislation. Establishing a global tax body under the UN with the power to punish those that don’t comply would help to ensure a radical shift away from a global culture of tax secrecy towards one of openness and accountability.”

ENDS

Editors' notes
  • At 6pm GMT Monday 9 May the full Panama Papers database will be/was released by the ICIJ - https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/
  • The Panama Papers include some 11 million documents given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists by a whistleblower with access to data from Mossack Fonseca.
  • Figures on global inequality are from the ActionAid discussion paper, The Price of Privilege:  http://www.actionaid.org/publications/price-privilege