Builders, gardeners, medical professionals and bakers could all be finding inner peace this Tax Return Saturday. According to HMRC ads on busses, billboards and TV, all you have to do is fill in your Tax Return for the UK Treasury before today and inner peace is guaranteed.
While the taxman is more likely to play an evil villain in the story about tax than a super hero, here in the UK we all benefit from public money raised through taxes in the shape of education, health care, roads and of course we have just campaigned hard, successfully, to get 0.7% of taxes to fund international development.
But strangely corporate fat cats like Amazon, Starbucks and Google, get away with not paying their fair share of tax. While millions of individuals are filing their tax return today, big multi-nationals are taking advantage of an unfair system that allows them to dodge paying their fair share. Basically benefitting themselves at the expense of the rest of society, including more responsible businesses. Unbelievably, most of this tax dodging is legal. Tax rules are currently rigged in favour of the biggest and most powerful companies, because those companies have been allowed too much access and influence.
Every year the UK loses billions of pounds to corporate tax dodging, while developing countries lose an estimated $160 billion a year from corporate tax dodging. This means that governments, both here and in some of the world’s poorest countries, are losing out on taxes which could be used to fight poverty. We’ve teamed up with ActionAid, Oxfam and Christian Aid and a whole number of other organisations to campaign for a Tax Dodging Bill which will seriously tackle corporate tax dodging.
Restless Development is a part of this campaign as money raised from tackling corporate tax dodging will generate billions every year to fight poverty in developing countries and make this fight more sustainable. The Tax Dodging Bill will also generate at least £3.6 billion a year to fight poverty in the UK. Avoiding tax has become all too common and a functioning part of a world which is becoming more and more unequal. Today the world’s 80 richest people own as much as half the world’s poorest. Young people need to be at the forefront of this campaign to tackle a world that is becoming increasingly unequal and in favour of the few.
Corporate tax dodging is unfair: nearly everyone loses out when tax rules allow big companies to avoid paying their fair share. We need a Tax Dodging Bill to make tax fair and to raise funds to fight poverty in the UK and developing countries. This is not a campaign to attack business, but make sure that the tax rules are fair for everyone so that on Tax Return Day we can all find inner peace knowing we have contributed to a fair and stable society.
I’ll find inner peace when big corporate Tax Dodgers have to return their taxes too.
Let’s all find inner peace by making tax fair.
Rachel Walker is Campaigns Coordinator for Restless Development working on the Tax Dodging Bill campaign.
 Tax Dodging Bill campaign policy brief, 2015