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Action needed to end tax dodging for good

The revelations contained in the recent Paradise Papers leaks have reiterated the value of public transparency in identifying aggressive tax avoidance - and the need for reform to end these abuses once and for all.

The veil of secrecy that exists in the world of global finance benefits no one but tax dodgers.

The UN estimates that developing countries lose about $100bn every year as a result of corporate tax avoidance, revenue that should provide comprehensive public services, such as healthcare and education, which help people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and to thrive.

Following last Thursday's emergency Commons debate on the issue, with MPs from all sides calling for action to improve transparency, it is clear the time has come for Britain to ensure its overseas territories rip away the veils of secrecy which hide tax dodgers from public scrutiny. Crown Dependencies should do the same.

Tax avoidance continues to deprive the UK and developing countries of vital funds that could be spent fighting poverty, so the huge human cost of inaction far outweighs any reasons for further delay.

The Government should also prioritise new transparency rules to ensure that UK-based multinationals publish their tax payments in every country, with a commitment in the forthcoming Budget to implement public country-by-country reporting by the end of 2019.

EU member states, including the UK and Ireland, are also currently considering a proposal for public country-by-country reporting that would ensure that all multinational companies operating in Europe publicly declare where they pay taxes and where they book their profits.

It is essential that the UK and Irish governments support this proposal.

Anything else but a declaration of firm support will lead to questions, both here and abroad, as to our governments' real commitment to tackling global tax avoidance, leading to further damage to the international reputation of both our respective governments on this island.

JIM CLARKEN

Chief executive, Oxfam Ireland

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