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Posts Tagged ‘spending cuts’

Tax Dodging: Hand-In to HMRC

April 5th, 2012 by

Take a look at the video from today’s hand-in!

Back in December, 38 Degrees members were outraged to find out that the government’s tax collectors – HMRC – had been cutting “sweetheart deals” for big companies. Thousands of us wrote letters of complaint to HMRC about them letting big business get away with billions of pounds of tax that could have been spent on public services.

Today, at the end of the financial year, 38 Degrees volunteers handed in a whopping 34,937 letters of complaint from 38 Degrees members to HMRC.  We had to carry all 18 boxes of complaints by hand right up to the double doors – but it was worth it!

Tax dodging has been a hot issue for 38 Degrees members for some time. Just last month, 38 Degrees members voted for cracking down on tax dodging as one of our very top priorities.

The government recently said they’re planning a new “general anti-avoidance rule” to crack down on the worst tax dodging schemes. That shows they’re feeling the heat!  But some experts don’t think the plans go far enough. Not only that, amazing action group UK Uncut is mounting a legal challenge to try to claw back unpaid tax from bankers Goldman Sachs.

Should we all be weighing in to push for a stronger “anti-avoidance rule”?  Or seeing what we can do to help UK Uncut’s legal action?  What do you think 38 Degrees members should do together next to stamp out tax dodging?

 

 

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Support people living with a disability – Email your MP

January 25th, 2012 by

“The Lords have told government to ditch plans that would leave people struggling financially if they became sick or disabled. Now 38 Degrees members can help make sure MPs listen.” Kathy Peach, Head of Campaigns & Social Change, Scope

In the next few days we could help stop some of the worst cuts to support for sick and people living with a disability. When the plans were debated in the House of Lords, Lords and Baronesses voted to stop some of the most unfair cuts – including support being ended after only a year for some people recovering from very serious illnesses, like cancer.

Now, the government is threatening to reverse these decisions and bring the cuts back. But they can only do that if they can persuade enough MPs to do what the government tells them. If we work together, we can push our MPs to stand up for what’s right and defend sick and people living with a disability.

All over the country, people living with a disability and their families are anxiously waiting to see what will happen. The decision could be the difference between a decent life and serious poverty. Becoming sick or disabled could happen to any of us. Now, we’ve got a chance to stop MPs making a tough package of cuts even worse.

Even with the changes the Lords have made, there are big worries about what these plans mean for people living with a disability. But if MPs don’t back the Lords’ changes, it could end up being even worse. Our voices will be joining hundreds of other groups, including Scope and Sense, who want MPs to protect these improvements.

Right now, many MPs could be on the verge of doing the right thing. A final, people-powered push from thousands of 38 Degrees members could convince them to back the Lords’ changes to the bill.

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HMRC: Crack down on tax dodgers

December 20th, 2011 by

Photograph by Images_of_Money (Flickr)

This morning, we found out that the government’s tax collectors – HMRC – don’t seem to have been doing their job properly. Instead of making sure everyone is paying their fair share of tax, they’ve agreed to “sweetheart deals” letting big companies off paying billions of pounds.

The government will be hoping we’re too busy doing our Christmas shopping and working out how we’re going to pay our heating bills to care what their tax officers have been up to. But they’re wrong.

A huge public outcry and a flood of complaints to HMRC will send a powerful message: we won’t stand for the government giving big business the green light to dodge billions in tax.

It only takes 2 minutes to send a complaint letter to HMRC – we’ll collect all the letters together and deliver them in the New Year:

Today’s news is full of the shocking details of these deals. The Daily Mail warns “While families, shopkeepers and small businesses are forced to pay their bills in full, big businesses are striking favourable deals and have a ‘far too cosy’ relationship with HM Revenue and Customs.”

As lots of us prepare for winter on a tight budget, it’s not hard to imagine that those billions of pounds could have been spent on something better than stuffing the wallets of the most powerful companies in the country. We could have spent it on schools, on hospitals, or making sure everyone can have a safe, warm home this Christmas time.

We know that tax dodging is a big issue. That’s why last month we decided that it should be something we should make an urgent priority.  This is our chance to make sure we get a fairer system. A people-powered flood of complaints now will surprise HMRC and force them to think again.

Add your letter of complaint to HMRC now.

Over the last few hours on Facebook lots of 38 Degrees members have been speaking out. Here are some of their comments:

- Tober: “It’s a Scandal. Get to it 38 degrees!!”
- Paul: “A list of these firms need to be published and the individual amount they owe. Im glad this is front page news today”
- Andy: “disgusting smell of corruption hangs over this whole business.”
- Dean: “I feel so angry about this – and so impotent, what can be done?”
- Michelle: “No it isn’t fair, but sadly I’m not surprised! The rich get richer and the poor can pay!”
- Diana: “No it isn’t fair and that unfairness is at the heart of all the resentment and division in our society. When did someone decide it was OK for tax officials to accept lunches or other gifts?”

In the New Year, we’ll deliver all the letters of complaint to HMRC: add your letter today!

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Threat to Legal Aid

October 31st, 2011 by

Email your MP - Manifesto for Family Justice

Photograph by orangesparrow (Flickr)

This Wednesday, MPs vote on big changes to the English legal system that will see huge cuts to legal aid.

These changes could stop thousands of vulnerable families and children from getting the legal advice they need. A coalition of expert organisations that stand up for families at risk, including The Women’s Institute, the Assocation of Lawyers for Children, The Bar Council and Women’s Aid have put together a report  to convince MPs of the danger posed by these cuts.

There’s still time to stop these cuts from happening – we need to make sure MPs read the evidence before Wednesday’s vote by emailing them the report.

The dangers the report sets out include the risk that victims of domestic violence and child abuse could be forced to represent themselves, and so be questioned in court by their abusers.

These changes will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. Senior lawyers have warned that the changes will be bad for children, bad for women, and bad for families.

38 Degrees members can help make sure the MPs read the independent evidence, not just the government spin. Otherwise, there’s a risk that MPs will just follow government instructions rather than trying to understand for themselves what the changes mean.

When we work together, 38 Degrees members can push better protection for the most vulnerable – earlier this year, we helped get the government to sign up to better protection for victims of human trafficking. Let’s make sure legal aid cuts don’t deny justice to the most vulnerable – can you email your MP now.

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Shortlisting campaign suggestions: how it worked

March 5th, 2011 by

The 38degrees.org.uk homepage

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Over the last few days, thousands of us have been discussing and sharing ideas about what 38 Degrees should do next. On the blog and Facebook page, as well as in emails, we’ve made thousands of suggestions about what we should do together over the next few weeks and months.

It was an amazing response. For the staff and volunteers in the 38 Degrees offices, the big challenge was how to make sure we’d looked at it all and come up with an accurate picture of which campaigns were the most popular, so we could include them in our priorities vote (happening now on the 38 Degrees website – click here to take part ).

Luckily, there are lots of tools to help with analysing the replies. So, as well as making sure we read through the ideas people had written about, we had free tools which gathered all the data together and automatically looked for words which occured most frequently. You can see an example of the sort of information they produce here:

 



Word cloud made with WordItOut

Of course, there’s no substitute for people reading through what other people have to say. But these tools were also incredibly helpful in getting another perspective on what members said they cared most about.

That means we’ve now got a sense of how people feel are the most important things for us to do. There were some clear winners: there were nearly 2000 references to the NHS and healthcare, and over 1100 on tax dodgers. But other issues emerged as important too, like protecting disability benefits, and the Alternative Vote referendum.

Now, we need to put it to another vote, so every 38 Degrees member has a chance to say which of these matter the most. Please make sure you have your say – click here to vote for our Please make sure you have your say – click here to vote for our priorities.

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Interview with Nicholas Shaxson: Part One

March 3rd, 2011 by

Nicholas Shaxson, tax expert and author of ‘Treasure Island’, a book described as the “most important of the year”, noticed 38 Degrees’ campaign against tax dodging. He asked if 38 Degrees would be interested in doing an interview with him.  The office team then asked 38 Degrees members wanted they wanted to know about tax-below he has answered some of the questions members have asked him:

Nicholas Shaxson

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Gerry Smith: Could you please explain the difference between tax avoidance and tax dodging? If the only difference is one is legal and one is illegal how do we pressurise our MP’s into changing the tax laws so both are illegal?

Nicholas Shaxson: Technically, the main distinction that is made is between tax evasion – which is by definition illegal – and tax avoidance, which is by definition legal, but also by definition involves getting around the spirit of the law: what our democratic representatives intend when they set up tax laws. Between the poles of evasion and avoidance there is a huge grey area, a spectrum between the legal and the illegal. Multinational corporations that use tax havens tend to inhabit this grey area.

Tax dodging is a popular term which to me means the whole lot: evasion, avoidance and the grey area in between. I prefer an alternative term, which is tax cheating.  I think that effectively puts the finger on exactly what is going on here.

Lauren Young: How much could we save if they just paid their tax?

NS: The so-called UK tax gap – taxes that are recognised but go unpaid, outright tax evasion, and tax avoidance – is estimated at 40 billion pounds per year by HMRC; and at 120 billion per year by Richard Murphy,who has done a lot of pioneering work on this. It would never be possible to collect all this, but many billions, and possibly tens of billions, is a reasonable estimate of what might be possible. This could not go all the way towards making up for the huge cuts now being instigated – but it could go a long way. It is a genuine and big alternative to cuts.

Avril Wooster: If someone resides in U K, has a business in UK, how can they not pay their due taxes in UK?
Robin Rowles: Is there any reason why our taxation laws can’t say “If you live in the UK, work in the UK, do business in the UK, or as an individual or as a corporate entity take any income from the UK, you pay UK taxation”?

NS: Generally, companies can’t cut their tax bills to zero, because the government puts in defences against offshore tax avoidance. Company lawyers put in place new schemes to get around those defences, though, and the government creates new defences against those. And so on. This game of cat and mouse is one reason why tax systems get so complex.

Take a business that is resident in the UK and which has its headquarters here, and which has subsidiaries all over the world. In theory, should pay taxes on all its worldwide income, with allowances made for taxes already paid to other countries. But it’s not as simple as that.

Imagine the company has a subsidiary in a tax haven, which earns $100 million but pays no local tax (because it’s in a tax haven.) In theory, the UK resident company should pay UK taxes on its tax haven profits. But there is a big fly in this ointment: if it structures its tax affairs in certain ways, it may only pay those taxes in practice once it has repatriated those profits back to the UK. Meanwhile the money that it keeps out there in the tax haven will sit there, untaxed. This is known as deferred tax – tax that should in theory be paid one day, once the income is repatriated to the UK – but in practice it often never gets paid at all. It has been called a ‘tax-free loan from the government, with no repayment date.’ One third of the UK’s largest companies pay no tax.

With respect to individuals, the big gift that the UK makes to wealthy people is the so-called “non-dom” rules, under which certain classes of people who are resident in the UK but not “domiciled” in the UK (this is a rather vague test that depends on where your heart lies) get to pay tax on their UK income only, but pay no tax on their worldwide income. So of course, vastly wealthy people come to London, make sure all their income is realised overseas, and get all the benefits from living in our country while making sure that other people pay for all the services they rely on. The non-dom rule should be simply scrapped.

You can follow Nicholas Shaxson on twitter at: http://twitter.com/nickshaxson

Nicholas Shaxson also recomends Richard Murphy’s Blog
and this Tax Justice Blog

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Download & use the “Crack Down on Tax Dodgers” Ad

January 6th, 2011 by

Over the last few days lots of people have asked if they can download and use the “Crack down on Tax Dodgers” ad. That is of course absolutely fine!

If you want to download it and use it on your blog, facebook, twitter or something else just click here to download it then let us know how you use in the comments below.

Here’s how the ad looks:

George Osborne as the Artful Dodger Ad

Photograph by 38 Degrees

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Daily Mail Group & Telegraph pull our Tax Dodger Ads

January 4th, 2011 by

This morning our “George Osborne The Artful Dodger” tax dodger ad was meant to run in the Metro, Guardian, Indepdendent and the i.

It has become clear that the Daily Mail group of newspapers (which includes the Metro) pulled out of running our ads at the last minute – they were meant to appear in the Metro this morning but there was no sign of them. We’re trying to find out what their excuses are and will update this blog post with the latest developments.

The Telegraph also refused to run the ad.

You can view the ad here: on page 28 of the i, page 18 of the Independent and page 14 of the Guardian.

Update 1: Left Foot Forward have more details here

Update 2: Here’s the ad

George Osborne as the Artful Dodger Ad

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Update 3: If you want to complain about our ads being pulled you can email the editors at the papers that didn’t run the ads here: managingeditor@dailymail.co.uk (Daily Mail); telegraphenquiries@telegraph.co.uk (Daily Telegraph); news.london@ukmetro.co.uk (Metro)

Update 4: We’ve just heard from the Metro why they refused to print our ad. Here’s a copy of the email they sent:
“I gave it the OK before Christmas, but said it would have to be pulled if there was any controversy, and now Conservative HQ are on the attack over the ‘tax dodger’ claims.
“I don’t have a problem with the group advertising with us but obviously we don’t want to run anything that could be viewed as libellous.”
And here’s David’s response:
“It’s a bit implausible that they were genuinely worried about libel – we had been told that the adverts had been looked at and approved by their libel lawyers several days earlier, they’d been looked at and approved by 38 Degrees libel lawyers several days before that, and several other papers felt comfortable running them.”

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Save our Forests – share your campaign ideas

October 31st, 2010 by

Our Save our Forests petition is growing really fast. Over 30,000 people have signed it in less than a week.

We’re proving that the public don’t want our forests sold off. If enough of us get involved in this campaign, we can make the government back down.

Our number one priority this week has to be to make sure that the petition keeps on growing. People power is our best bet for stopping the forest sell-off. The more of us there are involved, the more likely we are to win.

But what else should we be getting ready to do? 38 Degrees works because thousands and thousands of us work together. So we need to start discussing what else we should be doing together on this campaign.

For a serious sell-off of the England’s forests to go ahead, the government would need to get the law changed. That means they need MPs to vote for their plans. So what can we do together to push MPs to promise to protect our forests? Would you be prepared to write to your MP, or pay them a visit? Should we be targeting some MPs more than others? Which ones?

The government, and the private companies that would profit from any sale, will probably try to run a slick PR operation to persuade the public there is nothing to worry about. What should we be doing to raise awareness and spread the word? Should we be raising money to produce adverts? Should we all be putting posters in our windows or bumper stickers on our cars? How about all writing letters to a local papers warning about the plans? Organising local events to get the press involved?

These are just some initial ideas to get the conversation going. Please add your own by commenting on this post.

UPDATE: since this post was put up, both the Welsh and Scottish governments have expressed their opposition to selling off the forests. It looks like, since forestry is a devolved matter, for now at least the main threat is to forests in England. We’ve updated this post accordingly.

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Tax avoidance: George does it too?

October 28th, 2010 by

A few weeks ago 38 Degrees members voted in their thousands for us to work together to push the government to do more to crack down on tax dodgers.

But in the Comprehensive Spending Review, George Osborne failed to do this. He announced lots of cuts but no real new plans to deal with tax dodging. In fact, the cuts included cuts to tax inspectors who should be tackling tax dodging.

Meanwhile it has been revealed in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, also reported in the Daily Mail and The Telegraph, that three cabinet ministers including Osborne use loopholes to avoid paying tax. Many 38 Degrees members have asked: how we can trust our Chancellor to be doing all he can to close tax loopholes, when he’s profiting from the loopholes staying open?

Our campaign against tax dodging is likely to be a long one. We are going to have to keep the pressure on for some time to turn the tide on the government’s relaxed attitude to tax avoidance. Thousands of 38 Degrees Members emailed their MP to tell them that the Treasury should crackdown. Hundreds have suggested their ideas for our own tax cheats advert campaign spoofing the government’s own benefit cheats adverts. And our petition telling George Osborne it’s time he started paying his own tax is growing really fast.

Campaigning against tax dodging is not going to be an easy win, but we definitely can’t rely on the politicians to do it without us. People power is our best bet for winning this campaign.

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