Lords Rowan Williams and Richard Harries will next week help launch a new campaign for a fairer tax system: Church Action for Tax Justice (CAT).
CAT will seek to inspire all Churches about the urgency of creating fairer and more effective tax systems to fund healthier public services, both in the UK and internationally.
Rowan Williams, who chairs Christian Aid, will speak at the launch event at the House of Lords next Tuesday (17th).
Commenting in advance, he said: “The creation of this new Church-wide movement is timely. If businesses really believe – and want others to believe – that what they do builds genuine, shared prosperity in countries that need it, they should be eager to support fairer tax regimes and to play their full part in creating the sustainable infrastructure that such regimes make possible. For this, transparency is essential, and it is good that we are already seeing progress in this area. But we can do even better and it is urgent that we do so.’
Revd Michaela Youngson, President-Designate of the Methodist Church, said: “Tax justice matters to Methodists. We can see the results of injustice in our communities in Britain and internationally. Church members across London are at the forefront of tackling the dramatic inequalities in wealth and well-being, which trap people in poverty and debt. We want to not just lament the outcomes of unjust tax and resource distribution, but challenge our political and financial authorities to do much, much better.”
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “Quakers believe that there is something of God in everyone and all are of equal worth. Our faith leads us to say that all too often tax is seen as a burden to be minimised. In fact, we need to see it as a positive tool to build a more just society where resources are more equally shared and good services exist for all.”
Ending financial secrecy in UK tax havens like the British Virgin Islands is one of the ‘holy trinity’ of reforms CAT will pursue, along with changes to the way large multinational companies are taxed.
In addition, the new campaign will call on Churches themselves to make more vigorous and vocal use of their power as investors in major companies.
CAT has developed out of the Methodist Tax Justice Network and seeks to be more ecumenical, embracing all Church denominations.
One recent sign of the success of the worldwide movement for tax justice has been the decision by Vodafone to publish its country-by-country reports from 2019 onwards. Christian Aid, the Tax Justice Network and others have long campaigned for major multinationals to publish such data, because it can throw up suspicious patterns that alert tax authorities and civil society to potential tax dodging. This, in turn, helps them to hold companies to account.
Church Action for TaxJustice (CAT) will:
In the context of increasing global inequality promote an awareness of the crucial issue of Tax Justice, the idea of a ‘race to the top’, a fair tax system which highlights the fundamental relationship between taxation and public services;
Seek to raise awareness throughout the Churches and faith communities of the urgent need for Tax Justice at a national and international level, including transparency in all areas of the global financial system;
Encourage Christian and all religious bodies to promote Tax Justice in their education, mission and financial policies and practice;
Support initiatives and campaigns by TJ-UK, the international Tax Justice Network (TJN), Tax Justice Europe, the Global Alliance (GATJ) and – as appropriate - faith agencies such as Christian Aid, Church Action on Poverty and the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR).