The following letter was sent to the "CANZ" governments ahead of the vote on the "Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation" at the United Nations:
Civil society organizations call for Canada, Australia and New Zealand to stop obstructing global tax progress at the UN
We call on the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand (CANZ) governments to support the upcoming adoption of the revised Africa Group resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations” (A/C.2/77/L.11/REV.1).
Right now the global community stands at a juncture. After years of work to stop tax-related illicit financial flows, tax evasion and tax avoidance, progress at the OECD continues to be plagued with delay and disappointments. Proposals put forward have questionable utility for OECD countries, and are measurably harmful to developing countries who have been afforded little authority in the process.
We urge the CANZ governments to support efforts to make global tax decision-making genuinely inclusive and create a fair international tax system that works for all countries, not just the powerful few. Our countries’ international reputations as constructive members of the international community are on the line.
The revised African Group proposal would establish an intergovernmental process to evaluate options to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation. This would include, but not necessarily be based on, the possibility of a legal framework for international tax cooperation. This process would provide an important opportunity for all countries to share their perspectives on the potential options for a way forward. Crucially, this would be under the auspices of the United Nations, the global decision-making forum where all countries are represented equally.
Developing countries have been shut out for too long from having real influence and impact in global tax discussions and decisions, notwithstanding recent OECD efforts. It is therefore vital that powerful countries like CANZ now work to re-establish trust with these countries, and support their desire to be able to equally participate in discussions about the global tax system. CANZ must provide support for those developing countries across Asia, the Pacific, and beyond, countries with which we have deep connections and from which we have significant diaspora communities.
Addressing international tax abuse and ensuring a coherent and fair international tax system is in the interest of all countries, particularly in the context of the multiple crises exacerbating inequalities within and between countries. One priority is the need to improve or establish the cornerstones of true global tax transparency: automatic exchange of information; publicly transparent systems to identify beneficial owners, and public country-by-country reporting. These inclusive foundations, via the UN, will help address illicit financial flows and tax abuse, all of which affect developing countries more than the wealthy countries who have helped perpetuate such abuse.
We advocate support for the resolution to:
- support progress on international UN-based discussions,
- ensure financial support for developing countries so they can fully participate.
Voting against the draft resolution is akin to supporting the existing elitist OECD system and denying developing countries the opportunity to demonstrate how a fair global tax framework might work. At the very least, we call on CANZ to abstain from voting, rather than stand in the way of meaningful progress for all. Abstention, rather than outright opposition, would also mean that Canada, Australia and New Zealand can more easily engage in the future.
Canadians for Tax Fairness | Canadiens pour une fiscalité équitable
Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability & Research
Collectif Échec aux paradis fiscaux
Public Service International (PSI) Asia Pacific Region
Tax Justice Network - Australia
Tax Justice Aotearoa