LONDON (ABP) – An annual assembly of British Baptists called on the government to crack down on strategies used by multinational corporations to avoid paying taxes in the Third World.
While not illegal, a Baptist Union of Great Britain resolution said that tax-avoidance strategies cost developing countries about $160 billion in lost tax income that could help them build financial sustainability.
The resolution, recommended by BUGB Treasurer Malcolm Broad, called upon Baptist leaders to make government leaders aware of “the negative impacts of tax evasion and avoidance by some companies” and on the British government to “show international leadership in negotiating international tax transparency for all multinational companies and an end to tax-haven secrecy.”
“It is vital that the underlying structural causes of injustice in our world are addressed if poverty is ever to be overcome,” Broad said in a Baptist Assembly news release. “And tax dodging is increasingly recognized as one of those structural causes too important to ignore.”
A Baptist assembly handout claimed that for every $10 given in aid to the developing world, $15 slips out through tax dodging. By reporting just a fraction of the profits they make in poorer countries and hiding the rest in off-shore tax havens, unscrupulous businesses reduce their tax bills while depriving poor countries of revenues that are used by the West to pay for things like basic healthcare, roads and schools.
The vote aligns British Baptists with a “Trace the Tax” campaign sponsored by Christian Aid, an anti-poverty charity with head offices in London.
Held May 4-6, the Baptist Assembly is a joint gathering of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and BMS World Mission. It has been held as a joint assembly, linking Baptist work and witness in Great Britain and overseas, since 1984.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.