Every time I hear someone say “nobody likes paying taxes”, I want to shout: I do! My taxes pay for a civilised society, for schools and roads we all need, and for support to those who face hard times. Tax dodgers aren’t just depriving the public purse, they are also shirking their moral duty.I’m not the only Green to think so. I always get a little rush of pride when I hear Jenny Jones, our London Assembly Member, say she is proud to pay taxes when some Labour politician suggests we all resent it.
The Green Party strongly supports the call for a Tax Dodging Bill to ensure that companies pay their fair share of taxes, and so help to fund the public services on which all UK citizens depend.
In February last year Green MP Caroline Lucas sponsored an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling for the introduction of a Fair Tax Mark. This would be awarded to companies that pay the tax they owe, at the right time and in the right place – allowing consumers to make an ethical choice about where to spend their money.
Greens including Molly Scott Cato MEP have been instrumental in securing a parliamentary inquiry into the “Lux Leaks” scandal, which centred around the work of PricewaterhouseCoopers and a shady web of companies facilitating massive tax avoidance.
But it’s important to walk the talk, too. I supported the emergency motion at this year’s Spring Conference to return the £300k donation to Vivienne Westwood if she was a tax dodger (which, it turned out, she isn’t). The Green Party had already returned a large donation last year when our checks uncovered that he was dodging tax. We’re a party that likes to do as we say, and do things differently.
As a party we will continue to support any measure that clamps down on corporate tax evasion and avoidance, and this will be reflected in our manifesto.
Unlike Jim Dowd MP, who voted strongly against measures to tackle tax avoidance when Labour were in power, I will stand firm in tackling tax avoidance.