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Global Labour Tax Summit: fairer taxation for quality education

published 23 September 2015 updated 24 September 2015

The Global Labour Tax Summit, held in Geneva, Switzerland, recently, stressed that current fiscal laxity is one of the main causes of growing inequality and chronic underfunding of public services in our societies.

“How can we make taxes sexy?” asked journalist and Director of Finance Uncovered George Turner on 16 September, during the opening dinner of the Summit held on 17 and 18 September, at the joint initiative of Public Services International and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

It is often said that taxes and income tax are the price we pay for living in a civilised society. However, when multinationals use all the tricks in the book to avoid taxation and politicians try to get elected on platforms promising reduced income tax, one may wonder where our political and economic elite is trying to lead us, said Education International (EI) economist and consultant Richard Langlois.

According to him, while the creative accountants of large firms talk about tax optimisation, financial scandals such as the Luxembourg Leaks (or "Lux Leaks"), which came to light in November 2014 and revealed the content of hundreds of very advantageous tax agreements entered into with the Luxembourg tax authorities by audit firms on behalf of many international clients, revealed the tip of the iceberg of large scale tax evasion by the world's most powerful players. He also stressed that pressure from civil society forced the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to address the problem and to progress timidly towards finding solutions.

“Can anyone still believe that it is technical obstacles that are delaying efforts to end tax evasion and to eliminate tax havens?” asked Mr. Langlois. For those people, he said, the Summit demonstrated strikingly that technical solutions exist and that only deficient political will explains the current laissez-faire attitude to such tax matters.

This is why EI will continue to inform, raise awareness and mobilise with the other civil society players who are fighting for fairer taxation.