Ending corporate tax dodging to fund public services

For decades we’ve been told that there simply isn’t enough money available to properly fund our public services. It is up to us to challenge this.

Austerity policies have given us privatisation, cuts to education, health and public housing, the introduction of user pays and then rising service charges. And we’ve seen wage freezes for essential front line staff.

But recently we’ve also seen a wave of other stories – the LuxLeaks, the HSBC files, the Panama Papers - which paint a very different picture about this supposed money drought.

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"There is no Magic Money tree?"

Recently, a public sector nurse confronted the UK prime minister about why public sector wages have been virtually frozen for a decade. The Prime Minister's infamous response: "there is no magic money tree."

In fact, an effective crackdown on corporate tax evasion would deliver us the 'magic-money' needed for our public services.

Until recently, even progressive political leaders internalised the stale thinking that tax reform to fund public services is economically and politically untenable.

But it is difficult to believe that our leaders do not understand this problem. More likely is that they do not want to act. The golden-revolving door between high-finance and government only deepens the problem further. The Panama Papers implicated five serving heads of state, two former heads of state, four former prime ministers and 61 family members and associates of prime ministers, kings and presidents including those of China, UK, Australia, Malaysia and Mexico.

Estimates put the total amount in offshore tax havens at more than $20tn. Yet the total cost of ending extreme poverty worldwide would be a fraction of this amount – around $3.5tn..

Ordinary people, such as the Nurse who confronted the UK prime-minister, are waking up to the injustice.

They see that corporate profits have soared since governments bailed out the banks – yet we still aren’t properly funding our schools, health, housing or infrastructure. Sometimes with tragic and disastrous consequences.

The surge in support for Labour in the UK after it placed tax reform at the centre of its manifesto, or Bernie Sanders in the US, shows these policies are not just essential; they are also politically popular.

12 national leaders and 143 politicians were named in the panama papers.

We need to support politicians and parties to take a stand on tax dodging. Because if we cannot provide bold alternatives to address spiraling inequality, we risk ceding ground to the false promises and fear mongering of the far right.

Ensuring the very rich and global corporations pay their fair share has always been the best way to fund quality public services.

Leading the global tax-policy debate

PSI is a founding member of ICRICT - Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. It is an influential panel of experts led by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz who develop reports to help politicians reform corporate taxation.

ICIRICT website

Building public pressure

To change the tax rules, we need local workers and their movements to build public pressure. We need national union movements to develop coherent tax-policy alternatives and push political parties to adopt and implement them. We need international institutions to stop the race to the bottom on tax and the proliferation of offshore tax havens. 

We're helping unions win

PSI provides the link between these levels by developing and sharing the research, campaigns and political influence needed to win

We influence global policy

We advocate for a UN Global Tax Body to monitor capital flows and enhance redistribution within and between states.

We help grow the wider movement

We are a founding member of the Independent Committee for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, led by Nobel-prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz.

We help unions

We improve the ability of unions to examine corporate tax affairs through tax journalism workshops and capacity building.

We provide the arguments

We argue for corporate tax reform, the closing of loopholes and the creation of a Financial Transaction tax.

We pull back the curtain

We assist unions in launching tax investigations into high profile multinationals, through the Center for International Corroborate Tax Accountability and Research.

Troy Carter Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)

"Our wages were brutally cut by our employer - but research we did through our union showed the millions flowing through the company coffers to tax-havens. These struggles are clearly linked."

Troy's employer, ExxonMobil made $24.8 billion in 3 years in Australia, yet paid zero corporate tax.

In 2016, ExxonMobil contractor UGL sacked Troy and over 200 of his co-workers and offered them their jobs back the very next day but with up to a 30 to 50 per cent drop in wages. Since then they've been on the picket-line for over 500 days and have made Exxon's dodgy tax practices a key part of their campaign. Learn More.

Global Distribution of Wealth

Time to share the pie around? These extreme levels of inequality show how the products of our labour are shifted upwards to the mega rich. PSI is leading the fight for fair taxation and redistributuon to fund quality public services; so that everyone gets their part.

Exposing corporate tax webs

PSI works closely with CICTAR; a global corporate tax research Centre that produces information and analysis to untangle the corporate tax web. CICTAR partners with organisations across the globe, to provide international tax expertise to other corporate accountability work and assist in efforts to improve national, regional and global tax policy.

CICTAR website

Take action!

Want to investigate a company's tax affairs?

Get in touch with the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research; they're the experts and they're always looking for new leads.

Got a tip off on a tax dodging corporation?

You can upload private documents securely and anonymously via our secure drop.

Want to develop and launch a campaign on corporate tax?

Check out our Tax-Campaign Manual and Motyro campaign builder.

Have you got an existing campaign or win that you want to share with us?

Contact our Tax and Trade Officer

Want to arm yourselves with arguments on why we need to change the global tax rules?

Tap into our shared resources or check out the ICRITC’s fact-sheets.

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The Panama Papers give a glimpse into a shady world of personal and corporate tax avoidance through offshore tax havens. In a time of austerity and sharp spending cuts, this revenue is needed more than ever to fund the vital public services that communities across the world need. A fair global tax system would see part of the $30 trillion currently held in offshore accounts transferred to fund our schools, hospitals and other much needed services. This would provide a clear alternative to the current narrative of privatization and austerity. PSI along with a coalition of civil society organisations have been working on exposing how corporations and the 1% avoid paying their fair share. Read more here: Golden Dodges: McDonald’s $1.8 billion global tax avoidance strategy http://www.world-psi.org/en/golden-dodges-mcdonalds-18-billion-global-tax-avoidance-strategy-revealed Chevron’s Aggressive Tax Avoidance http://www.world-psi.org/en/chevrons-aggressive-tax-avoidance-exposed-global-summit G20 and the broken International Corporate Tax System http://www.world-psi.org/en/g20-and-broken-international-corporate-tax-system

Panama Papers - The Public Services Perspective