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Oxfam’s reaction to the Tax Working Group’s final report

Thursday 21 February 2019

Responding to the release of the Tax Working Group’s final report, Oxfam New Zealand’s executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said:

“Oxfam New Zealand welcomes the Tax Working Group’s efforts to examine our tax system to make sure it treats everyone fairly. It is time the New Zealand government fully used one of our most powerful tools for reducing inequality – our tax system. The recommendations from the Tax Working Group for a capital gains tax start this important work.

“The large number of submissions to the Tax Working Group on the treatment of multinationals and digital firms is a clear sign of growing concern about weaknesses in this area. We note the government’s upcoming discussion paper about making multinational corporations pay their fair share in tax, and support New Zealand’s engagement in the OECD’s work in this area. However, a truly global response is needed to fix our broken international tax system. Our Pacific neighbours must be supported so they can collect the taxes needed to fund essential health and education services.

“New Zealanders have shown they want to be included in the conversation on tax. Almost 5000 people signed an Oxfam petition demanding transparency in our tax system and 1300 people wrote to Minister Nash asking for the same. We welcome today’s recommendations to increase public involvement in the development of tax policy and to resource the Inland Revenue Department appropriately.

“It’s also encouraging to see the recommendations from the Tax Working Group that aim to tax wealth more fairly and take steps to increase transparency in our tax system.

To tax wealth properly, we need to be able to see it. And to see wealth we need greater transparency in our tax system. We especially need multinationals to publish key financial information to make sure they are paying their fair share.

“Better rules on transparency are critical to a healthy global tax system and a healthy New Zealand. We urge the Government to build on the recommendations of the Tax Working Group and take bold steps to improve transparency so when big multinational companies like Apple, Facebook and Google publish their annual financial information, it's clear exactly where goods are used, profits made – and where tax should be paid.”

Notes to editors:

Oxfam is warning that unless governments act to reduce inequality, the global goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 will remain out of reach. A recent World Bank report found that the global rate of poverty reduction almost halved between 2013 and 2015 compared to the 25-year average, and the number of people in extreme poverty is rising in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half the global population – 3.4 billion people – are barely scraping a living on less than $5.50 a day.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has shown there is significant potential to raise more tax revenue from businesses and the wealthiest people. There is growing support for wealth taxes from across the political spectrum, including IMF boss Christine Lagarde, the Archbishop of Canterbury, former Conservative minister Lord David Willetts; and former deputy governors of the Bank of England. In 2015, just four cents in every dollar of tax revenue collected globally came from taxes on wealth such as inheritance or property.

-ENDS-

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