Poverty and inequality is the other side of tax avoidance | Letters

Failure to pay tax undermines human rights, write Helena Kennedy and Hans CorellThe Paradise Papers shed light on a highly complex system of global inequity and depriving the poorest of their rights. At the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute we believe that by failing to collect the revenue that is being lost through offshore tax avoidance schemes, states are failing in their obligation to mobilise all available resources towards the promotion of human rights and poverty reduction. As stated by the former UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona: “Tax abuse is thus not a victimless practice; it limits resources that could be spent on reducing poverty and realising human rights, and perpetuates vast income inequality … A State that does not take strong measures to tackle tax abuse cannot be said to be devoting the maximum available resources to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.”

As noted in the institute’s report Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights, the effects of tax evasion on a global scale are being seen most acutely in developing countries, where a huge outflow of money is seeing governments starved of the wealth that they need to invest in health, education and infrastructure. Equally though, its effects are seen here in the UK and other developed countries, where austerity measures are plunging people into poverty and depriving the poorest in society of their economic, social and cultural rights.

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