Worldwide Civil Society reacts to #ParadisePapers

Published on 
11/15/2017

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has released another powerful tax haven expose titled the Paradise Papers. According to ICIJ: "A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world. The leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers."

You can read the Global Alliance for Tax Justice's response here in English, French and Spanish.

"We all lose out to tax havens: Global Alliance for Tax Justice calls for immediate action to end inequality

As revelations flow from the latest tax haven exposé dubbed the Paradise Papers, we renew the call for governments to take immediate action to end tax havens and make multinational corporations and the wealthy pay their share of taxes.Noting that revenue lost to tax havens is fueling poverty and rapidly worsening inequality across the world, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice says a priority measure should be to establish an inclusive intergovernmental Global Tax Commission under the United Nations, where all countries have an equal say in setting international tax policies".

Civil society worldwide is broadcasting a clear rationale for #TaxJustice. Please see our members and partners' reactions listed below:

- GATJ’s regional network member in Latin America and the Caribbean, Red de Justicia Fiscal, published this comprehensive analysis of #badappleby, titled “New filtration reveals huge tax evasion and evasion of rich and transnational” - RJF lists the following questions:

  • What is the role of lawyers in offshore tax avoidance?
  • And what is the role of accountants?
  • How big is the problem of offshore tax evasion and avoidance?
  • What firms like Appleby do - is it illegal ?
  • What is the difference between tax evasion and avoidance?
  • Is not the OECD solving the problem?
  • What should be done to solve the problem?

Red de Justicia Fiscal (RJF) also issued a regional statement, saying "The Paradise Papers have once again highlighted the failure of worldwide governments to deal with the scourge of tax avoidance and financial crime facilitated by offshore financial centres".

Luis Moreno, Coordinator for the RJF, analyses "Overcoming this is a challenge that requires national, regional and global cooperation. The thin line between tax evasion and avoidance should not be used as an excuse to continue generating these fiscal cracks that allow the exhausting of immense resources from developing countries into tax shelters, a task that the" facilitators" of tax evasion and avoidance (accounting firms, global banking, law firms, among others) are responsible for expanding. Political support is required in which all the countries of the world, and especially the developing countries, have a voice and vote to close these cracks that bleed the social objectives of our populations. The UN can take on this leadership role.”

- See also the statement by GATJ's North American network member The FACT Coalition, along with these resource links:

- GATJ's regional network member in Africa, Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A), reminds in its statement "Paradise Papers show Africa is still bleeding".

"The actions of [#ParadisePapers exposed] individuals and businesses, TJN-A says, deny African governments much needed tax revenue that can be used to finance economic and social development on the continent. The impact of this is that African governments are compelled to implement regressive taxes in a bid to close the tax revenue gap. Secondly, the Paradise Papers implicitly show how developing countries are engaging in harmful tax competition that may lead to a race to the bottom and stifle tax revenue collection for African governments.

The Paradise Papers comes at an opportune time in Africa where recent revelations show the complicit actions of big accountancy firms enabling wealthy elites and politicians to siphon off billions of dollars from Africa to offshore tax havens. The Paradise Papers further illustrate TJNA’s long term view of the fractured global financial system that disproportionately impacts the poor on the continent. These revelations add to the catalogue of evidence that demonstrates illicit financial flows as well as aggressive tax planning as being a global problem and not just an African problem. It is time for an overhaul of the global financial system under the auspices of the United Nations to ensure developing country voices are heard, said TJNA Deputy Executive Director, Jason Rosario Braganza from the sidelines of the 4th International Tax Justice Academy in Entebbe.

Michael Otieno, chair of Tax Justice Network-Africa's board, says "The #ParadisePapers is a reaffirmation of the #PanamaPapers. The dangers of tax havens and hidden wealth is real. We must be clear, they must neither run nor hide. We must #EndTaxHavens".

- Read the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad)'s reaction to the #ParadisePapers here.

"As long as there are loopholes, there will be clients ready to pay to circumvent our tax systems", says Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Justice Coordinator at Eurodad.

Eurodad urges the leaders of countries across the world to:

  • Introduce public registries of beneficial owners of companies, trusts and similar legal structures.
  • Let the public see where multinational corporations do business, and how much taxes they pay in each country where they operate.
  • Establish an intergovernmental body at the United Nations, and negotiate a global agreement to put an end to tax havens.

-This statement from the Tax Justice Network.

"The United Nations should convene a summit of world leaders with the goal of agreeing a UN convention to end tax abuse and financial secrecy. World leaders need to agree binding targets to reduce all forms of illicit financial flows, with accountability mechanisms to ensure progress", Tax Justice Network (TJN) urges.

You can also watch Alex Cobham's video response as TJN's CEO:

Tax Justice Network has also published a Frequent asked questions list in 4 languages : English, German, Portuguese and French. Make sure to circulate!

- The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)’s press release is also out, titled "Time for the UN to act to end tax abuse and financial secrecy”.

“The empirical evidence is crystal clear: nations continue to bleed massively through illicit financial flows. The ‘Paradise Papers’ only shine light on the faces of the elites and multinationals behind this phenomenon, unmasking how they channel their wealth through tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions. The implications for development policy are also clear: a paradigm shift is long overdue, from emphasis on merely scaling up development assistance to clamping down on tax evasion by the politico-economic elites and multinational corporations” says Leonce Ndikumana, ICRICT Commissioner and Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts.

“States must reject the artifice that a corporation’s subsidiaries and branches are separate entities entitled to separate treatment under tax law, and instead recognize that multinational corporations act as single firms conducting business activities across international borders. If it were the case, there would be no need from the multinational corporations to seek tax havens, inside the European Union or outside”, says Eva Joly, ICRICT Commissioner and member of the European Parliament.  

- Attac also issued a reaction from France:

“Tax evasion, a state scandal” came along an Apple-focused Press statement, as Attac is running a broad campaign in Europe titled #IphoneRevolt, aiming Apple's tax evasion on the occasion of the IphoneX mediatic release: "Paradise Papers": Apple caught again in the act of tax evasion", recaps Attac.

You can also read two reactions in Germany, from:

  • Attac Germany’s “Es ist ein Kraut gewachsen gegen Steuerflucht” ("There is a cure against tax evasion")
  • Attac Austria’s press release, reported by the Austrian press Agency: "Regierungen sind Konstrukteure und Komplizen des Systems" ("Governments are constructors and accomplices of the system. Celebrity cases must not distract attention from the fundamental problem")

Attac calls for public transparency register, prohibition of transactions in tax havens and a Unitary Taxation.

- Oxfam International resumes “3 key ways to #EndTaxHavens now”:

- OpenData4TaxJustice issued a paper on the need for global database on multinationals:

- As the Queen of England’s assets in Bermuda is the first information among the leaks, noteworthy is Tax Justice UK petition (UK-specific).

- In Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness (C4TF) issued a statement with a noteworthy national conextualizing:

"Based on this new [#ParadisePapers] data and updated estimates that over $500 billion in tax revenue is lost globally due to corporate tax dodging using tax havens, C4TF has revised its estimate of Canadian tax losses due to tax havens to between $10 to $15 billion a year - up from our previous estimate of $5 to $8 billion a year". “This is still just the tip of the iceberg.” says C4TF's Executive Director Dennis Howlett, “there are more than a dozen large offshore law firms like Appleby, and many more accounting firms and financial institutions, that specialize in offshore services for large companies and high net worth individuals.”

For more background resources, please see our #EndTaxHavens campaign page

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