Tax avoidance morally wrong: Poll
Tax avoidance is morally wrong even if it is legal, the majority of people surveyed in a poll for two leading charities said.
Four in five of those asked said it is too easy for large companies to avoid paying tax in the UK while almost three-quarters said the next government should legislate to discourage big companies here from avoiding paying tax in developing countries.
Eighty-five per cent of the 2,052 adults asked in the ComRes poll for Christian Aid and ActionAid said they believe tax avoidance is morally wrong.
Just a fifth of people asked said they felt political parties had gone far enough in their promises to address tax avoidance by large companies.
In a breakdown of voters’ views on the issue, 90% of Conservative voters, 88% of Labour supporters and 85% of Liberal Democrat and Ukip followers agreed that tax avoidance is morally wrong even if legal.
Toby Quantrill, principal economic justice adviser at Christian Aid, said: “This poll clearly shows mass public opposition to tax avoidance by large companies, both in the UK and in developing countries.
“It doesn’t matter which political party people support – they all are saying the same thing: that politicians of all parties are still not doing enough to stop tax dodging.
“There is much more the UK could do to reduce the problem of tax dodging by multinationals.
“It should make good on commitments to create a public registry of company owners and ensure that the UK-controlled tax havens (the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies) follow this lead.
“We can also get ahead of the game globally by ensuring that UK companies are required to report separately on their economic activities in every country in which they operate, so as to reveal any artificial operations that may be used to reduce their global tax bills.”
ActionAid tax policy adviser Diarmid O’Sullivan said: “It is not just the UK that is affected by tax avoidance. The world’s poorest countries lose billions of dollars a year to tax dodging.
“This is money that could otherwise be used to pay for schools, hospitals and other essential public services.
“That’s why we are encouraging politicians of all parties to move past halfway measures and promise strong and comprehensive action ahead of the next election to put an end to tax dodging.”