Panama Papers create a much-needed conversation on tax dodging

By Oxfam

A huge leak of confidential tax documents shed light on the shadowy world of tax dodging.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists recently released analysis of a treasure-trove of leaked documents from a Panamanian tax law firm that give us a disturbing and detailed look into the murky world of tax dodging, a problem that governments and international institutions have so far refused to tackle head-on.

The more than 11 million documents, dubbed the Panama Papers, blow the cover off of decades of off-shore arrangements, illustrating the rampant tax dodging that occurs when wealthy individuals and international corporations take advantage of a weak international tax system that has been rigged for their benefit. This is precisely the rigged system that has created runaway global inequality, where only 62 people in this world own as much a half of humanity, and where the wealth of the richest 1% surpasses the combined wealth of the rest of the world.

Tax havens like those outlined in the Panama Papers, are at the core of this broken global system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share, depriving governments—rich and poor—of the resources they need to provide vital public services and tackle rising inequality.

The Panama Papers should be a wake-up call to world leaders and policy makers that the time has come to end tax havens and crack down on the companies and individuals who abuse them. Governments must to act together to create a more comprehensive global approach against harmful tax practices that deny poor countries hundreds of billions of tax dollars.

Here in the US, Oxfam is calling on Congress to start by passing legislation that would ensure multinational companies report where and how much money they make in every country where they do business and to end secrecy about who really owns all companies, foundations and trusts. This transparency would help to ensure taxes are paid where business is done, benefitting millions of the world’s poorest people. 

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