MAJORITY OF BRITISH ADULTS SAY TAX AVOIDANCE IS ‘MORALLY WRONG’
New research has revealed that 56% of British adults believe that tax avoidance by multinational companies (MNCs), while technically a legal way of reducing what they owe the taxman, is morally wrong, and half of people think it should be made illegal. Only four per cent of those polled thought tax avoidance by MNCs was ‘morally justifiable’ and only four per cent described such practices as ‘fair’.
The survey of attitudes to tax avoidance commissioned by Christian Aid shows public support for Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s view that such practices are ‘morally repugnant’. However many of the 2026 people questioned in the survey by ComRes don’t think these strong words are being matched with Government action.
Three quarters (74%) felt that David Cameron should be demanding international action to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, yet just two in five respondents to the survey (38%) believing the Government is genuine in their desire to combat tax avoidance. There was also a clear view that companies should be more transparent as 81 per cent of those polled believed MNCs accounts should be more transparent and publicly available. Some 79 per cent of people polled said it was too easy for MNCs in the UK to avoid paying tax.
The results showed that the majority see this as a development as well as domestic issue for the Government. More than half those asked (55%) believe that the British government should make helping developing countries combat tax avoidance a greater priority than it is at present.
Christine Allen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Christian Aid said ‘this poll shows there is a huge public appetite for tackling tax avoidance both domestically and in developing countries. The public are clear that the government is not acting sufficiently, and that companies need to open their books more’
Of those opposed to tax avoidance, (those who think it is either immoral, should be illegal is unfair) 67 per cent said that one of their main concerns was that tax avoidance meant there was less money for governments to spend on public services, 33 per cent said that it meant governments had less money to tackle poverty, 28 per cent said that it damages the reputation of all multinationals, and 25 per cent were concerned that it made developing countries more reliant on aid.
Some 75 per cent of people polled said MNCs enjoyed more lenient treatment from the tax man than individuals received, and two thirds (65%) believed closing legal tax loopholes should be a greater international priority for the British Government than funding infrastructure in developing countries.
The ComRes poll of 2,026 people marks the launch of a Tax Justice bus tour of the UK on 24 August, oganised by both Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty, to highlight the damage that tax abuse causes in countries rich and poor alike.
Christian Aid has found tax dodging each year by unscrupulous multinationals deprives developing countries of some US$160 billion in lost revenue – money which could go on health and education. The sum is larger than the international aid budget. Church Action on Poverty says tax dodging in the UK deprives the government of funds to support vital services.
The Tax Justice Bus will be making over 100 stops from Falmouth to Inverness and Dover to Belfast from 24 August through to 15 October. Politicians, church leaders and thousands of campaigners and members of the public will be invited to step aboard and show their support for an end to tax dodging.
The charities want people to ‘Tick for tax Justice’ by signing a petition that calls on the Prime Minister to push for measures that would require:
• Companies to report on the profits they make and taxes they pay in every country in which they operate.
• Tax havens to automatically share information about the money flowing through them with other countries.
Methodological note: ComRes surveyed 2,026 GB adults online from 8th to 9th August 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.