Public to G8: Act on Tax Havens Now

June 17, 2013, 11:56 AM GMT+0

Majorities of voters from every party say countries regarded as tax havens should opt for new tax transparency rules, regardless of whether other countries do the same

Today a senior group of African leaders, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, warns David Cameron that unless he endorses changes to tax transparency rules - whereby the public will have access to a register of the owners of firms who hide their identities in tax havens – African countries will lose $50 billion a year from illicit financial flows. At present it is thought Mr Cameron’s G8 pledge will fall short of Mr Mbeki’s plea, with the identities of tax-evading firm owners being available to tax authorities but not the public.

Commenters suggest the cautious approach of David Cameron reflects an unwillingness to be at a disadvantage in the G8 by moving before other member nations.

New YouGov research for the Sunday Times reveals that a majority of the British public support the unilateral reform of tax transparency rules. When asked about rules for tax havens being addressed at this year's summit 56% of the public say “Countries regarded as tax havens should change their rules now, whether or not other countries do the same. It is morally wrong for a country to allow companies to use the secrecy of its tax regime to avoid paying tax on profits made elsewhere.”

Just 22% of the public say “rules on tax havens should only be changed when all countries agree, otherwise small countries that do the right thing could damage their economies while the problem just moves elsewhere.” The group who support the unilateral reform of tax havens are made up of majorities of voters from every party: 52% of Conservatives, 64% of Labour, 61% of Lib Dems and 62% of UKIP.

The poll also asked the public whether or not the G8 is a good or a bad thing. More (41%) say it is a good thing, which allows members to “build trust with each other” and discuss major issues, than who say it is a bad thing (24%) which is “a private club that ignores the real issues facing the world.” But while majorities of Conservative and Lib Dem supporters (59% of each) sit on the pro-G8 side, only 35% of Labour and UKIP supporters feel the same.

The leaders of the world’s eight richest nations that make up the G8 begin their two-day summit in Northern Ireland today. The on-going conflict in Syria is expected to top the agenda.

See the full poll results

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