25 June 2021
15:00 - 16:30 (CET)
The global tax system offers a powerful tool to respond to the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to repair systemic challenges such as widening inequality and runaway climate change. Addressing the G20 International Taxation Symposium, the webinar will discuss how proposals from social movements for tax justice and reparations – as called for in the ecumenical Zacchaeus Tax– can help us achieve a just and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
Opening and introduction, by Rev Dr Gordon Cowans (moderator)
"How and why is tax justice critical for a just and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?", by Dr Manuel (Butch) Montes
"What are the models and practices for a reparatory global tax system and what could it deliver?", by Dr Priya Lukka
"What does recovery and reparation look like?", by Ms Adetola Onamade and Ms Marina Tricks TBC
"Introduction to ZacTax toolkit and how can we as churches advocate for the ZacTax proposals?", by Rev Philip Peacock and Dr Justin Thacker
Q&A moderated by Dr Gordon Cowans
Closing remarks by Mr Gorden Simango
Rev Dr Gordon Cowans is moderator of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, principal at Knox Community College, and a member of the Ecumenical Panel on a NIFEA.
Dr Manuel (Butch) Montes is senior advisor at Society for International Development and a member of the Ecumenical Panel on a NIFEA. Previously he worked with the South Centre, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs and the East-West Centre.
Dr Priya Lukka is an international development economist and visiting research fellow at the Goldsmiths University in London. Previously she worked with ChristianAid in the UK.
Ms Adetola Onamade and Ms Marina Tricks are students involved in anti-racism, decolonial and climate justice movements. Together with another young person, they are suing the UK Government for failing to honour climate obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Rev Philip Peacock is executive secretary for justice and mission at the WCRC and formerly Associate Professor in the Department of Theology, Ethics and Social Analysis at Bishop’s College in India.
Dr Justin Thacker is a theologian and medical doctor and currently coordinates the UK-based Church Action for Tax Justice.
Specific Calls of the Zacchaeus Tax Campaign
Calls for Tax Justice
- We call for the enactment of progressive wealth taxes at global and national levels to curb the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of an increasingly powerful few, hand-in-hand with increased public spending to stamp out poverty. A global comprehensive wealth tax – building on the Picketty proposal for a 1% tax on wealth between 1 to 5 million euros and a 2% tax on wealth above 5 million euros – together with inheritance and other wealth taxes at the national level can tackle runaway inequality while raising billions for health, education and other critical social services.
- We demand for a stop to tax evasion and avoidance by multinational corporations (MNCs) and affluent individuals. Year after year, many countries in the Global South bleed billions of dollars due to “transfer pricing”, “trade mis-invoicing” and other tricks. Developing unitary methods of corporate taxation to ensure that MNCs pay taxes where economic activities occur, closing tax havens, publishing country-by country reports of profits and establishing a United Nations commission for tax cooperation can build a fairer and more transparent system of corporate taxation.
- We urgently call for progressive carbon and pollution taxes at different levels to protect our only planetary home. Studies including by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that there is a limited and rapidly vanishing window to prevent calamitous climate change. Carbon taxes, particularly on big corporations and wealthy consumers, can help to restrain emissions and raise revenues for investment in renewable energy as well as for meeting the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation and reparations for climate-related loss and damage in income-poor and vulnerable countries.
- We call for the immediate implementation of a financial transaction tax on trade in equities, bonds, currencies and derivatives to curb harmful speculative activities. Proceeds would be allocated towards global public goods and the protection of our ecosystems, as well as towards reparations for slavery and other historical injustices.
Calls for Reparation
- Midway through the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024, we call for the establishment from taxation of an Enslavement Reparation Fund overseen by a Global Commission for Reparatory Justice. This fund would resource key areas of reparatory justice: heath, education, technology transfer, repatriation, among others (such as those named in the CARICOM Ten Point Plan).
- We demand for debt cancellation as a further measure to bring reparation and restoration to nations impoverished by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and struggling with the impacts of runaway climate change. Debt cancellation would help to free up resources to address economic, social and ecological challenges facing the aforementioned nations that are often rooted in unjust economic conditions imposed by the colonising nations since emancipation. Debt restructuring is not acceptable as these were illegitimate debts imposed by an unequal economic system.
Calls to the Churches
- We call on churches to discern and study the issues around just taxation and reparation for slavery and ecological debt through the lens of the covenantal relationships that God calls us into with each other and the earth.
- We urge for creative and prophetic readings of the Zacchaeus story in Luke 19: 1-10. We invite churches to embrace the good news of Zacchaeus and advocate it in their life and witness raising the issues of just taxation and reparation in their contexts.
- We encourage churches to join the Zacchaeus campaign and lobby and advocate with national governments and global financial and economic institutions for tax and reparative justice. We particularly call on young people in our churches to educate, organise and agitate around taxation and reparation.
- Finally, we call on churches to organise their finances in line with Zacchaeus principles for just taxation, sharing of resources and reparation for historical injustice.