Each year, over $427 billion in tax is lost to the most egregious forms of international corporate and individual tax abuse. This costs countries around the world the equivalent of nearly 34 million nurses’ annual salaries every year – or one nurse’s annual salary every second. But while the expansion of research into credible measurement of these tax losses has helped to drive forward international policy responses, these responses are often disconnected from the human costs that result. This reflects a failure to properly consider “the 4 Rs of taxation”.
Without tax justice, states cannot raise the revenues to meet their obligations to provide the maximum available resources to promote human rights. Without effective taxation, states cannot deliver the level of redistribution necessary to combat gross inequalities. Without a functioning tax system, states cannot achieve the repricing of public “bads” such as carbon emissions, to ensure sustainable development. And last but far from least, without fair and transparent taxation, we do not see the development of effective political representation necessary to ensure accountable governments based on a healthy social contract.
In 2021, the UN’s High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) has thrown down the gauntlet. The Panel’s final report calls for a fundamental overhaul of the global architecture around tax and financial transparency, in order to address global inequalities in taxing rights between countries. Such an overhaul is crucial to ensuring that all states can deliver the 4 Rs.
The tax justice movement has in recent years worked ever more closely with human rights organisations to confront tax injustices and the resulting human rights failures, including the critical failures of women’s rights. Existing international legal instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have been utilised to enforce accountability, while domestic mass mobilisation campaigns have sought to raise public awareness and demands for action.
Co-organised by the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs (AABA), City University of London (CityPERC), the Tax Justice Network and the Tax and Gender Working group of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ), this virtual conference is the latest in an annual series dating back to 2003. The events bring together researchers, academics, journalists, civil society organisations, consultants and professionals, along with elected politicians and their researchers, and officials from national governments and international organisations. The purpose is to facilitate research, open-minded debate and discussion, and to generate ideas and proposals to inform and shape political initiatives and mobilisation.