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Vast majority believe tax avoidance by multinationals to be morally wrong

17 September 2015

70% of people believe tax avoidance by multinationals to be morally wrong - even if considered legal – Christian Aid Poll

• Only 36% of Irish people trust the information multinationals provide about their tax payments in Ireland.

• Over three quarters (76%) believe more detailed reporting of companies’ activities would show if companies were paying the correct amount of tax.

• ‘New poll will add to the pressure on government to support efforts in EU to introduce a country by country reporting requirement for multinationals’, according to Christian Aid.

A new RED C survey, conducted on behalf of the charity Christian Aid, shows that only 36% of people trust multinational companies to provide accurate tax information, while 70% of people believe multinational tax avoidance schemes to be morally wrong even if they are legal.

And over three quarters (76%) of people believe that greater transparency around the activities of multinationals would be useful in determining whether they are paying the correct amount of tax.

According to the poll, Ireland’s international reputation also suffers as a consequence of our tax policy with less than 30% of people believing Ireland’s international standing is unaffected by our tax policy.

Sorley McCaughey Head of Advocacy at Christian Aid said, ‘We think the findings are fairly damning of the tax practices of multinationals, although not surprising. Scandals like Lux Leaks demonstrate that while PAYE workers, and Small and Medium Enterprises pay top rates of tax, some multinationals get away with paying next to nothing. What galls people is that Irish tax policy has been key to multinationals successfully avoiding the payment of vast sums of tax.'

‘What makes matters considerably worse, is that these same schemes in which Ireland is a key player is almost certainly depriving developing countries of millions of euros in taxable revenue that should be spent on essential services like health and education.'

Mr. McCaughey also pointed to overwhelming support for greater transparency in the reporting of multinationals, with 76% of people believing that if companies had to report on the full range of their activities in each of the jurisdictions in which they operate, it would be easier to see if they were paying the right amount of tax.

‘We believe the poll confirms that companies and the Irish government are out of synch with the Irish public in the level of transparency that companies should be asked to provide.

'People want to hold companies to account, and they want to do that by knowing exactly how much companies pay in tax, how much profit they record and all the other details of their operations in each of the countries in which they operate.

'Essentially what the public are calling for is a form of public country by country reporting, something that is being debated in Brussels at the moment.

'Regrettably the Irish government opposes public country by country reporting, but our view is that this poll shows that they are badly out of step with the public on this one.

'The reputational damage that Ireland is suffering, could be mitigated by the government taking a leading role in Brussels in ensuring the introduction of public country by country reporting. It’s a real opportunity for Ireland to show real commitment to the highest levels of corporate transparency.'

The introduction of public country by country reporting is currently being negotiated as part of the European Shareholders Rights Directive. The European Parliament has already voted overwhelmingly in favour of public country by country reporting, and over the coming months, negotiations will begin between the Parliament, European Commission and Member states. Negotiations on this recommenced on September 14th.

A year ago, the European Commission and PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an impact assessment of public country by country reporting for the financial sector under the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) IV.  The conclusion was that disclosing country by country reporting information 'was unlikely to have a significant negative economic impact, and could have a small positive economic impact'. Following this finding, public country by country reporting was introduced for multinational corporations in the financial sector, which now serves as an example how such a policy can work.

ENDS

For further information contact Barry Turley on 0044 7734 256318, or Sorley McCaughey at 087-0620062

The RED C poll was conducted between June 22-24, with a nationally representative sample of 1007 adults aged 18+ across the Republic of Ireland.

This provides a margin of error of +/- 3%, the same used for political polling.


Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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