ocampo48_Justin SullivanGetty Images_corporate tax Justin SullivanGetty Images

Rich Countries' Double Standards on Taxation

G20 leaders claim – with much self-satisfaction – that they are addressing the global tax-abuse problem, which deprives governments of $483 billion every year. But if the G20 is serious about rectifying the injustice of cross-border tax abuse, it should support developing countries’ call to establish a global tax body at the UN.

NEW YORK – The last two years have thrown into sharp relief the structural injustices that underpin the global economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic drove an estimated 88-115 million people into extreme poverty, the world’s billionaires saw their wealth increase by more than 25%. And while countries in the Global North are now administering vaccine boosters, those in the Global South continue to struggle to secure even first doses for their populations.

This appalling level of inequality is inextricably linked to rampant cross-border tax abuse, which is being perpetrated by both multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. By refusing to pay their fair share of taxes, the world’s wealthiest actors rob poorer countries of the revenue they desperately need to confront the pandemic, such as by securing vaccine doses and supporting vulnerable citizens.

G20 leaders claim – with much self-satisfaction – that they are addressing the problem: they recently agreed to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate, thereby ending the “race to the bottom” fueled by global competition for foreign investment. But the agreed rate is just 15%, and targets only a sliver of the profits of 100 multinationals. This will do about as much to help poor countries as a glass of water would do to put out a wildfire.

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