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The cost of tax evasion, and what we can do (Proverbs 31:9)

I read a horrifying statistic from @38_degrees this morning: in the UK, £120bn is lost to tax cheats every year. That’s 15 times more than benefit cheats cost us! As the government tries to pursue benefit fraudsters, but are seemingly reluctant to hear about tax evasion, it turns my stomach as Vodafone dodged a £6bn tax bill and there are rumours that Kraft will take Cadbury’s production abroad for tax evasion reasons.

Worse still, this is a global problem. Christian Aid estimate that Tax evasion costs the lives of 1,000 children a day because big business in those countries weasel their way out of tax, so public services, charities, healthcare and soforth do not get adequate funding. It’s effectively slavery.

I volunteer at a charity (Cardiff Foodbank) and regularly speak to people in vulnerable positions. Several of them have told me how much harder it’s become to get help recently. With this disparity between rich and poor in mind, I’ve signed some online petitions to encourage the government to investigate tax dodging. This campaign, for example, seeks to raise the profile of this issue and hold MPs to account.

I believe, though, before pointing the finger at others we must first look at ourselves. I suppose I’m “rich” on a global scale and I’ve been guilty of this myself in the distant past. First time I did my tax return, I got an accountant to claim for everything I could. I would buy musical equipment for cash to avoid VAT. These days, I refuse to pay cash in hand and complete my tax return without trying to claim for my domestic electricity or whatever. I’m not saying I’m awesome or whatever, rather that if I hadn’t changed my ways, I’d have no right to call for the very rich and powerful to be held to account (‘cos I’d have a log in my eye and Jesus would put it). I don’t resent paying tax – I look at the Scandinavian countries who have very high levels of income tax but excellent public services. (I DO resent some of what our tax money is spent on but there are channels for me to express that, such as writetothem.com, which allows to us easily contact our parliamentary representatives.)

I cannot bear to think of people being kept in poverty by our hideous greed. I would encourage you, therefore, to make your voice heard.

Proverbs 31:9 “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

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