Governments must take urgent steps to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and companies, Amnesty International said today, after the leaked Paradise Papers shed new light on the murky dealings of the offshore financial industry.
“When people do not pay their fair share of tax, it’s the poor who suffer the most. At a time when governments around the world are slashing spending on health, education, housing and welfare support, it’s shameful that so many wealthy individuals and companies are being allowed to stow away billions of dollars in tax havens,” said Iain Byrne, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisor at Amnesty International.
“Governments must do more to stop tax havens – and the accountants, lawyers and consultants who work in them – from aiding and abetting this grand-scale tax abuse. We’ve heard too many empty promises. The time has come for action.”
Tax evasion and avoidance deprives governments of much of the revenue they need to guarantee the economic and social rights that they are legally bound to deliver on. These include rights to the goods and services that everybody should be able to enjoy to lead a dignified life, such as a decent place to live, essential healthcare and education, and adequate welfare support.
“The appalling revelations in these papers, and the ensuing outcry, should prompt the international community to urgently look at finding global solutions to tax abuse, and at ways of holding those responsible to account,” said Iain Byrne.
“We owe it to the world’s most vulnerable people to make sure the richest individuals and most powerful corporations pay their way.”
The Paradise Papers contain details of the offshore financial affairs of hundreds of politicians, celebrities, wealthy individuals and multi-national companies contained in a trove of 13.4 million leaked documents.
The documents were initially leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The paper then contacted the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to oversee an investigation involving 96 media partners, including the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times. More revelations are due to be published in the next few days.