In the coming week, civil society organisations across Europe will demand more action from European governments to stop tax dodging by unscrupulous multinational companies. One of their top demands is that the European Union pass a new law to create public registers of the real owners of all phantom firms and shell companies, as a key step in the fight against tax dodging and corruption.
As part of the Europe-wide `Stop Tax Dodging’ initiative, some 15 organisations in twelve countries are participating in the Tax Solidarity Week of Action from 25 Nov – 1 Dec. Actions in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, the UK, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Poland range from stunts and petitions to film showings, TV spots and public meetings.
“Tax dodging hurts the poor everywhere, both in Europe and in developing countries,” said Tove Maria Ryding, Senior Policy Analyst at the European network on debt and development(Eurodad). “That is what this week will highlight in capital cities across Europe.”
In Europe, the loss of income caused by tax evasion and avoidance is estimated to be around 1 trillion euros per year. When it comes to the world’s developing countries, conservative estimates say these countries lose between 660 and 870 billion euros each year through illicit financial flows, mainly in the form of tax evasion by multinational corporations. This is far more than the total aid received by developing countries.
Actions planned for the week include the following:
· In London, a major conference entitled `Tax Justice – Are You Serious?’ is being organised by Christian Aid, ActionAid and Oxfam with leading commentators on tax justice, including John Christensen, Richard Murphy and Margaret Hodge MP and over 150 activists from trade unions, NGOs, and community groups.
· In Rome a public meeting has been organised by Re:Common with trade unions.
· In Denmark, IBIS is using the week to highlight the impact of tax dodging on Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries in spite of its mineral wealth. IBIS is organising a photo petition, social media storm and the launch of a new animation film on tax. A new infographic on the IBIS website highlights the fact that the amount Sierra Leone loses through tax dodging could fund the country’s entire public budget.
· In France, Oxfam France has invited a civil society representative from Niger to come and speak in different French cities about the impact of tax dodging on his country.
· In Spain, Intermon and Inspiraction are organising a conference with the trade union that represents tax collectors. In Poland, the public are being invited by IGO to join an awareness-raising breakfast meeting.
· In the Czech Republic, the organisation Glopolis will be speaking on national radio.
· In Hungary Demnet is organising a screening of the film ` Where has all the money gone?’ for journalists and tax authority and ministry officials.
· The same film is being screened in Slovenia by the Ekvilib Institut.
· In Helsinki, there will be guided tours of tax dodging hot spots for journalists and the general public, organised by Finnish NGOs’ tax justice campaign
 The Campaign is calling for the EU to agree to public registers in the Anti-Money Laundering Directive currently being debated by member states and due to be voted on by the European Parliament in the coming months.
 Richard Murphy, 2012, Closing the European Tax Gap, A report for the Group of the progressive alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, accessible at http://europeansforfinancialreform.org/en/system/files/3842_en_richard_murphy_eu_tax_gap_en_120229.pdf
 Estimate for 2010 is: US$858.8 billion – US$1,138 billion. Global Financial Integrity (2012): Illicit Financial Flows From Developing Countries: 2001-2010..