Tax justice, including reforming the current tax systems, enacting jubilee, and paying reparations, was the focus of the second 2020 Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management public webinar held on 14 September.

Students and guests were introduced to the Zacchaeus Tax Campaign (#ZacTax), which calls for “a transformation in the global economic system that would, like Zacchaeus, return at least some of the monies owed” by multinational corporations and the extremely wealthy, said Justin Thacker, director of Church Action for Justice (UK). “More than ever we want to see a fairer world, a more just world, a more equal world, a world where the rich and powerful stop exploiting—and, indeed, stealing—from the poor.”

“The story of Zacchaeus unravels the delinquency of the global taxation system in its current form. It is oppressive and sinful. The world needs to listen to this story, not only because it’s a Christian story but because it strongly speaks truth to power,” said Suzanne Matale, commissioner of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation.

“We are living in a world that high inequality is feeding higher inequality. The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people,” said Manuel “Butch” Montes, of the Society for International Development.

“Reparations is a process to remember, repair, restore, rejoin, replenish, set right, make amends, and reconcile,” said Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. “Reparations can never be singularly reducible to monetary terms. To do so makes a mockery of the real significance of reparations as an end in a process of distributive justice, human atonement, and redemption.”

Considering the concept of jubilee, James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, noted that biblical jubilee includes “both freeing of the people and freeing of the land. We’ve seen globally, in the very early days of COVID-19, the respite that the lands and oceans and air received from the lockdowns.”

Addressing the role of churches in the ZacTax campaign Carruthers said, “We must move into a commitment and covenant to struggle with the truth. It also requires prophetic leadership and courage, to speak truth and help people understand their own sense of humanity would be served by their willingness to engage in this difficult work.”

The next Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management public webinar will be held on 2 October.

Learn more about the Calls of the Zacchaeus Tax Campaign

Learn more about GEM School 2020 online

"GEM School panel calls for prophetic action" - WCC news release (20 August 2020)

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