Tax Justice is 'the moral issue of our time'
Ahead of Tax Justice Sunday (14 June 2020), Church Action for Tax Justice has released new polling which details the extent to which the British public consider tax avoidance as the moral issue of our time.
In a survey of over 1,000 UK adults, 80% consider tax avoidance to be morally wrong. In an era when the British public have very few shared moral commitments, it would seem that our moral responsibility to pay our taxes is one of those on which the vast majority of us are agreed.
The survey also showed their reasons for thinking this way – that fundamentally it comes down to an issue of fairness. 75% of those who thought tax avoidance was morally wrong said that this was because we all need to 'pay our fair share'. In contrast, just 53% viewed it in terms of tackling inequality and 65% because of the tax contribution to public services.
To accompany these findings, Church Action for Tax Justice have released their Coronavirus Statement calling on the government to ensure that everyone pays A Fair Share for a Fairer World. As part of their statement, and in the context of coronavirus, they are calling for greater tax transparency, the imposition of conditions on corporate bailouts, an excess profits tax, greater support for poorer countries, a clamp down on tax dodging, equalisation of taxes and consideration of an annual net wealth tax. All of these measures are in line with the public’s belief about the immorality of tax avoidance.
Importantly, the agreement in the poll spanned all ages, genders and political affiliation with 84% of Conservative voters and 82% of Labour voters viewing tax avoidance as morally reprehensible. By way of comparison, the figure of 80% was significantly greater than the proportion who thought taking illegal drugs was wrong (72%) or failing to recyle (69%).
Commenting on the findings, the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev Nick Baines said, 'The current crisis is exposing the lack of fairness and equity in our economic system. There is also a clear perception that, as we move into an uncertain future, we need an equitable tax system. We need to stop the tax dodging and we need to see a greater degree of tax justice in our country. I wholeheartedly commend this statement from Church Action for Tax Justice.'
David Haslam, Chair of Church Action for Tax Justice, said, 'Our survey findings make clear that tax is the moral issue of our time. Now people have become aware of how much the wealthy cheat on their taxes they need to see justice done.'
The survey was conducted by Survation and took place 22-26 May 2020 via an online panel and consisted of 1,034 UK residents aged 18+. The results of the survey are available here.
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Notes to editors:
Church Action for Tax Justice (CATJ) is an ecumenical, campaigning organisation that stands for a fairer and more effective tax system, where democratic governments set taxes to reflect the Common Good, and individuals and corporations pay their share.
Dr Justin Thacker is the National Coordinator for Church Action for Tax Justice