A NEW Christian campaign group against tax evasion has been launched in the House of Lords.
Church Action for Tax Justice (CATJ) has been backed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams; the President-Designate of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Michaela Youngson; a former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth; and the Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, Paul Parker.
The organisation has grown out of the Methodist Tax Justice Network, but now seeks to become an ecumenical enterprise and draw in backing from all Christians.
CATJ will campaign against large multinational businesses that dodge their tax responsibilities, and British overseas territories that act as offshore tax havens, and will also call for greater transparency in the tax system, and a change in culture to see taxation as a good thing.
Lord Williams, who chairs Christian Aid, a charity that has made campaigning on tax justice a priority in recent years, said: “The creation of this new church-wide movement is timely. Many of the world’s largest companies seem to have forgotten that they have moral duties, as well as legal ones. They must support human flourishing, not least by paying their fair share of taxes in all the countries where they do business — and being fully transparent about the relevant data.”
Ms Youngson said at the launch in the House of Lords that she hoped the new group would “shift the narrative around tax away from it being a dirty word, or a necessary evil, but rather a blessing, and a means of all citizens having a stake in a generous society that cares for all”.
Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax, praised the new initiative. “There has never been a more important time than today to address issues of tax justice. This is not anti-business but pro fairness. Reforms are urgent, now is the time for tough action.”