Thursday, June 2, 2016

CHIARA CAPRARO and FRANCESCA RHODES - Why the Panama Papers are a feminist issue

The Panama Papers provide further evidence of the scale of global tax dodging, and of its impact on poverty and inequality

The world is talking about tax this week, so here’s another tax story for you. Asana Abugre has a small shop in Accra, Ghana where she makes and sells batiks and tie-dyed textiles. Asana pays her taxes regularly. Women  like her, working in markets across the city, sometimes pay up to 37% of their income in tax. Tax collectors come to their shops to collect taxes, and there is no chance of them not paying, regardless of how little money they might have made that day.

Of course, this isn’t the tax story that everyone’s been talking about. The release of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is the biggest data leak in history, and this time it’s some of the world’s most powerful people who have cause to worry, with the spotlight finally falling on their own secretive tax arrangements.

But the two stories are linked. When those at the top of the economic pyramid find ways to pay little or no tax, the impact is felt hardest by those at the bottom - people like Asana. If you look at the names of politicians and business leaders in the leaked documents you will see that those benefiting from using tax havens are overwhelmingly male. This perhaps reflects the fact that positions of power are currently mostly held by men. On the other hand, we know that those who are worst impacted by the consequences of tax dodging are the world’s poorest, who are disproportionately women and girls. Financial secrecy and tax dodging, and the resulting lack of public funds, threatens women’s and girl’s access to public services, increases the care work they do for free and shifts the tax burden onto those who can least afford it.

The Panama Papers provide further evidence of the scale of global tax dodging, and of its impact on poverty and inequality, particularly in the global south. Tax havens are estimated to be costing poor countries at least $170bn in lost tax revenues every year.  This is essential money which could be paying for schools, hospitals, childcare or services to address violence against women...Read more: