Tax as a Human Rights Issue

I have to admit, I never really understood what tax avoidance/evasion has to do with human rights. Until very recently I couldn’t quite put it together. I have been enlightened to learn that tax is a massive human rights issue for one simple reason. Tax is used by governments to benefit everyone. It’s used for hospitals, public services, keeping us safe etc. Now, if a big business is not paying the tax they should be, then we the general public are missing out on a lot of funding.

That’s when I came across this article about French Tax activist group Attac being taken to court by everyone’s favourite huge corporation; Apple. The article notes how Attac have been peacefully protesting alledged tax evasion from Apple within their stores. An Apple spokesperson stated: ‘that while it respected the group’s right to expression, its recent actions had “put the security of our customers and employees at risk.”‘ Apple are seeking 3,000 euros from Attac, and a ban on the group staging further protests in their stores.

Now although Apple’s tax avoidance is well known, especially since the release of the Paradise Papers, it’s very hard to find any clear evidence of tax evasion on their part online. Either way though, in my opinion whether you are avoiding tax in a legal or illegal manner, you’re still not paying the tax you should be. The problem with tax avoidance though is that it’s a global issue, offshore accounts in countries with low or no tax rates means that tax avoidance is simple. Surely some kind of global effort needs to be undertaken to help tackle this?

I came across the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive from the EU, it’s a hopeful piece of legislation that means a group effort from Europe to try and tackle tax avoidance. The interesting thing I have noticed however is that the UK has agreed to this directive, although it doesn’t come into force until after the UK leaves the EU.

Will be very interesting to see if we stay involved in this directive after Brexit.

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