The Tax Justice Network is hosting a series of online public events discussing critical opportunities in 2022 to meet pressing global urgencies with global tax progress. It is now widely accepted, from the US White House to the UN and G77, that nothing short of a package of tax justice policies at the global and domestic level can address the systemic inequalities countries face at home and the global urgencies the world faces, from the global cost of living crisis and ongoing pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and existential threat of climate crisis. The Tax Justice Series 2022 will bring together high-level policymakers, leading economists and renowned campaigners to discuss the most pivotal tax justice policy developments of 2022, how tax justice policies can be implemented and who should lead reform of the global tax system.
The link between tax and inequality has increasingly become a mainstream topic in news and policy debate in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic put into sharp focus the need for progressive tax laws to sustain essential public services and provide social protections. The pandemic has been unrelenting in forcing an awareness of the role of some of our lowest paid and unpaid workers – often women and girls – who subsidise our economies with their care of others. At the same time, the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the immense disparities in wealth and rights for different ethnicity groups. Fiscal policy, including tax, is increasingly in the spotlight for the racialised nature of its design and application but meanwhile questions of reparations and the role of tax continue to be dodged. More viscerally, the invasion of Ukraine has put attention on how financial secrecy enables wealth inequality and the political influence and immunity that wealth carries with it. The backdrop to all this is the shocking picture painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their recently published report. There is no doubt that we have little time to address the climate crisis: “3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change”. Tax has a pivotal role to play to address our collective vulnerabilities and support our resilience, but do we have rigorous policy solutions to address these multiple, overlapping threats to wellbeing and ultimately humanity?
The proposals tax justice advocates have been championing for the past decades for monitoring global wealth and increasing transparency, for collecting and allocating tax in a fair way across national borders, and for the setting of tax rules to be done in an inclusive and fair forum are increasingly being called upon as solutions to the cross-border challenges we face. From Biden’s proposal for a global minimum tax rate to the Western use of sanctions on Russian assets, it’s becoming strikingly obvious that tax and the need for transparency both play a crucial role in mobilising the resources we need to address the stark challenges we face in the coming decade.
The Tax Justice Series 2022 series will map out the way ahead for a fair and inclusive global tax system, seizing upon workable solutions that address deepening and overlapping inequalities, and in doing so, creating the capacity for governments to fulfil their obligations to the economic and social rights of all their citizens.
We invite campaigners, policymakers, researchers and members of the public to join us to discuss these pressing challenges and how we bring about tangible changes in the year ahead.
Financial Secrecy Index: ranking an industry of lawless wealth
Tuesday 17 May 14:00 – 15:30 BST (GMT+1) / 15:00 – 16:30 CEST / 9:00 – 10:30 ET
On 17 May, we will launch the latest edition of the Financial Secrecy Index, a ranking of countries most complicit in helping individuals to hide their finances from the rule of law. First published in 2009, the index is now established as the key ranking of secrecy jurisdictions around the world. The Financial Secrecy Index spotlights the laws and policies that governments can change to reduce their contribution to global financial secrecy.
An estimated $10 trillion is held offshore beyond the rule of law by wealthy individuals through secretive arrangements – equivalent to 2.5 times more than the value of all US dollar and EURO bills and coins in circulation around the world today. That lawless wealth is a threat to countries’ democracies, economies, and to the rights and safety of their populations.
The 2022 update is set to come with its own fireworks as those countries responsible for the greatest worldwide threat of lawless wealth are revealed. With the G7 group of countries actively pursuing sanctions on Russian oligarchs, where are the obstacles to identifying the true owners – and what of the G7 themselves? Come and join us to find out at the global media launch.
Ending lawless wealth: towards a global asset registry
Tuesday 31 May 13:00 – 14:30 BST (GMT+1) / 14:00 – 15:30 CEST / 8:00 – 9:30 ET
The ability of people to hold wealth anonymously – from financial assets to real estate, or high-value art, yachts and aircraft – is central to the spiralling wealth inequality, corruption and tax abuse around the world. And as policymakers are being reminded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, anonymous wealth is also the major hurdle to any sanctions being effective. But progress has been building towards an emerging international standard of requiring public beneficial ownership information for property and for companies, trusts and other legal vehicles.
The next step, once thought utopian, is to create a global asset registry to bring law and transparency to the trillions in wealth and assets anonymously held offshore. A global asset register would join up the range of information available on legal and beneficial owners and connects through with legal entity identifiers and personal tax identification numbers. With some data public and other information available only to tax authorities and law enforcement, the global asset registry offers the scope to protect privacy while ending financial secrecy, and provides the basis for taxing wealth more effectively and progressively.
This event will be delivered in partnership with the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), which has led work on proposals for global asset register and includes key proponents Prof Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman, and with the Fight Inequality Alliance, the leading grassroots movement which has backed national wealth taxes all around the world.
Ten years of corporate tax failure? Beyond the OECD proposals
Tuesday 14 June 14:00 – 15:30 BST (GMT+1) / 15:00 – 16:30 CEST / 9:00 – 10:30 ET
Reflecting the explosion of profit shifting by multinational companies that occurred from the early 1990s, and catalysed by the fiscal pressures that followed the financial crisis that began in 2008, policymakers in high-income countries came to share the longstanding concerns of lower-income countries about the scale of global corporate tax abuse and the failings of the international rules. The G20 group mandated the OECD to lead the ‘Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS) process, initially from 2013-2015. With swift recognition that the problems had not been solved, the continuing discussions about digitalisation gave rise to a ‘BEPS 2.0’ that was intended to run from 2019-2020, but continues to this day.
The current OECD proposals have broken the mould set by the League of Nations a century ago, in including elements of unitary taxation and formulary apportionment (to move beyond the deeply flawed arm’s length pricing), and a form of global minimum tax. But the unitary element would apply to only a tiny fraction of multinationals’ profits, and the minimum tax leaves the incentives for profit shifting in place while delivering most benefits to high-income headquarters countries and profit shifting hubs.
This event will analyse the threats and opportunities that now face countries – from the pressure to sign a blank cheque (to make binding multilateral commitments when the OECD is unable or unwilling to publish estimates of potential revenue impacts), to the potential space to pursue unilateral or regional alternatives exploiting the new recognition, in principle at least, of the value of unitary tax and formulary apportionment.
The golden opportunity of a UN tax convention
Tuesday 28 June 14:00 – 15:30 BST (GMT+1) / 15:00 – 16:30 CEST / 9:00 – 10:30 ET
Reforms of the international governance of tax and of financial regulation are long overdue. And now, with a full set of articles drafted for a United Nations Convention on Tax an unstoppable momentum has been triggered. The Convention, as drafted, marks a decisive point where the balance of power is shifting away from the OECD’s club of rich countries and providing the foundation for inclusive and equitable global tax rules. How optimistic should we be? Who will block this endeavour, and who are the constituents we need to engage and with what new advocacy approaches?