GMB is actively campaigning for greater tax justice, demanding urgent action against tax dodgers and avoiders, as well as just taxation of financial transactions.
GMB is supporting the European Federation of Public Service Unions' (EPSU) campaign for tax justice as an alternative to public service cuts. We are demanding an EU strategy of fair taxation, with big business and multinational corporations made to pay their fair share, and binding EU action plans against corporate tax avoidance and tax havens.
The April 2016 ‘Panama papers’ tax scandal has once more shown the shocking extent to which some of the world’s wealthiest businessmen and leaders – including David Cameron – will go to avoid paying their fair share.
£34 billion of taxes go uncollected in Britain each year, and the EU loses an average of €1 trillion every year to tax fraud and avoidance. This missing tax revenue could be the vital boost our economy and public services need, rather than the current cuts and deregulation being imposed by misguided and failing austerity politics.
GMB also wants to see binding EU rules obliging multinational companies to publish full tax returns in each country in which they operate, to ensure profits are taxed in the country where they are made.
Things go sour for tax-evading Apple
In a landmark ruling and victory for ordinary tax payers around the world, fat-cat, tax-evading multinational Apple has been ordered by the EU to pay Ireland back the €13bn in unpaid taxes it owes the country. Ireland has also been accused of breaching EU state aid rules by granting major tax benefits to the company, including a measly 0.005% corporate tax rate in 2014 on its massive European profits.
GMB has major concerns that the Tories will give similar corporations a free ride in post-EU exit Britain, to the detriment of our health and public services.
European leaders have warned Prime Minister Theresa May that UK negotiations to leave the EU will be made “more difficult” if she pushes ahead with plans to cut corporation tax. There are already substantial concerns that the Tory government is to go even softer on tax evasion, after it was revealed that Luxembourg-based businessman Gerard Lopez, who featured widely in the Panama Papers tax scandal, donated £400,000 to the Conservative Party.
Fed up with big business not paying its fair share? Then sign the EU Federation of Public Service Unions’ Tax Transparency petition here.
Further information is available on the EPSU website.
GMB also supports EPSU's work on the EU Commission Expert Group Against Tax Havens and Aggressive Tax Planning. The group is packed with business and tax advisers, with EPSU the only trade union representative (GMB holds their substitute seat). We are campaigning for an urgent re-balancing of the group's composition — see our response to the EU Ombudswoman's public consultation on the Composition of European Commission Expert Groups, in the Additional Resources below.
At the March 2015 World Social Forum, trade unions and civil society organisations launched the Tax Justice to End Inequality declaration.
More information is available on the Public Services International website.
Financial Transaction Tax
The crisis has renewed the campaign for a financial transaction tax, initially proposed by American economist James Tobin way back in 1972.
On 6 May 2014, the Finance Ministers from 10 EU Member States (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia) agreed to begin talks to launch a pan-European Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), an initiative first put forward back in 2011. Once introduced, the tax is expected to raise €37 billion a year, which will go towards repairing the costs of the financial crisis and bank bailouts in these countries.
In 2013, David Cameron submitted a legal challenge to the EU Court of Justice in an attempt to block the introduction of this EU FTT, desperate to protect fat cat bankers from paying their share of the damage they caused in the crisis from which we are all suffering. GMB welcomes the Court's April 2014 decision to reject this Tory attempt to ban the EU Robin Hood Tax.
For more details, see the GMB press release here.
Let those who caused the crisis pay
The EU-wide implementation of a Financial Transaction Tax will make an important contribution to tackling the financial crisis and ensure that the threats resulting from highly speculative financial trading are kept at bay. It will force all traders on the financial markets of the participating Member States to contribute to fixing the crisis they helped to create by having as little as 0.1% of their trades in shares and bonds as well as some of their derivatives taxed - peanuts as far as the reckless financial sector is concerned, but a system which it is estimated could raise €57 billion a year if implemented EU-wide.
Labour Members of the European Parliament and European Socialists more widely have been instrumental in pushing for an EU-wide Financial Transaction Tax. Due to opposition from many EU centre-right governments led by the UK however, the tax will only be introduced in those Member States willing to sign up to it, and not across all 28 EU countries, as GMB has been campaigning for, together with the UK's Robin Hood Tax campaign.
GMB is a key supporter of the Robin Hood Tax campaign and was one of 54 organisations to co-sign the Urgent Action letter to George Osborne sent by Stamp Out Poverty in December 2012, urging him not to block the launch of the EU FTT or stand in the way of any other EU Member State wishing to sign up to it.
Other links / further information
GMB response to the European Ombudsman Public Consultation on the Composition of European Commission Expert Groups
GMB response to the European Commission Public Consultation on financial sector taxation