The Global Alliance for Tax Justice and its regional members will advocate and push for the following five demands :
- Stop tax abuses by multinational corporations and illicit financial flows
Multinational corporations are systematically avoiding and evading taxes, by abusing weaknesses within national tax systems and the international tax architecture. These abuses comprise a large part of illicit financial flows (IFFs), resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in lost public revenues every year.
These potential public revenues could and should have been used for economic and social services and infrastructures that are urgently needed to address inequalities. All forms of inequality – including economic and gender inequalities – support and perpetuate patriarchal relationships, structures and norms. This has the most significant impact on the most marginalised people, especially women living in poverty. As well as depriving governments of the revenues to tackle inequality, multinational corporations also sometimes misrepresent their profits as an excuse to deny workers’ demands for wage increases.
However, instead of improving legislation and regulations, governments are conceding more and more tax giveaways, as well as scaling back regulations with the alleged intention of attracting investment. At the same time, they are introducing austerity measures and increasing the tax burdens on the poor, particularly on women, which is in turn aggravating the precarious social situation of women around the world.
Tax dodging and IFFs involving cross-border activities cannot be combatted effectively by national governments alone. , International tax rules and processes are primarily set by northern nations, and are heavily influenced by multinational corporations and wealthy elites, resulting in flawed, biased and ineffective rules. Governments must establish a transparent and democratic intergovernmental tax commission, with sufficient resources under the United Nations, to ensure that all countries can participate on a truly equal footing in the decision-making on global tax rules. Through this commission, governments must develop a UN convention that delivers effective global solutions to international tax dodging, and enforces the international commitments to achieve gender equality, including through progressive and gender-just tax policies.
- Reduce unfair tax burdens on women
Regressive tax policies have become convenient option used by many governments to raise domestic revenues, instead of emphasising and prioritising progressive tax measures. Such policies have hugely negative impacts on poor people, especially on women, as well as on the economies of developing countries. While multinational corporations benefit from special treatment, many governments are increasing indirect taxes, which place a disproportionate burden on poor people and low-income families. One example of a regressive indirect tax is value added tax (VAT), which applies the same rate to everyone, regardless of their income, wealth or employment status. The regressive nature of VAT is further compounded by the fact that the poorest people tend to spend a greater share of their income on basic consumption. Since women are more likely to live in poverty than men, VAT has a disproportionately significant impact on women. Women also continue to face a gender pay gap, which further exacerbates the discriminatory impacts of VAT.
- Remove gender bias and discrimination in tax policies
While some progress has been made to reduce discrimination against women in laws and policies, many tax systems still manifest bias against women both implicitly and explicitly. One example of this is how income tax policies in many countries are structured in such a way that tax deductions for dependents are more accessible to men, as they are implicitly recognised as the primary breadwinners. In a number of countries, tax policies are founded on highly discriminatory marriage laws, family codes and property laws. Gender bias and discrimination in tax policies is a violation of governments’ commitments to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
- Ensure tax and fiscal policies recognise and serve to represent, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work
Unpaid care work is valued at US$10 trillion a year worldwide and continues to be mostly carried out by women. This is invisible work as far as tax and fiscal policies are concerned, reflecting the way care work is generally unrecognised by society. Tax and fiscal policies should both recognise and serve to represent, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work. In reality, however, tax policies often carry an implicit bias that both relies on and perpetuates unpaid care work, negatively impacting on women and their families. Governments can address this bias through a combination of policies that include tax credits extended to unpaid care workers, allocation of tax revenues for social services, including for socialising care work (e.g. subsidised child care). Unpaid care work is a major concern that has been raised in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the UN CSW.
- Increase allocation of tax revenues for gender responsive social services
Amid poverty and heightened levels of exposure to violence and insecurity, the majority of women have poor access to food, water and the essential services they need, such as reproductive health services. These basic goods and services are vital for women’s survival, as well as empowering them to lead productive and meaningful lives. Loss of potential tax revenues due to corruption, tax avoidance and evasion, and IFFs – as well as austerity measures, prioritisation of debt servicing, privatisation and corporatisation of public services – have all significantly decreased women’s access to quality public services. These policy choices impact on women, both directly and indirectly. When governments fail to provide adequate care services, this often results in women stepping in to care for children, older people and their family’s health. Governments must fully assume their obligations and increase public spending for quality public services in general, and ensure public funding of services for women, including reproductive health programmes.