Putting tax at the heart of the inclusive growth debate | New SPERI-APPG report and event on tax

Liam ByrneAre we locked into a global race to the bottom on tax? What does this mean for inclusive growth? These were just two of the questions discussed at SPERI’s latest event in Parliament with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth.

The event, which took place on 14 March and was co- organised by the APPG, SPERI and Oxfam, was in response to growing concerns from major NGOs, international organisations and governments about ‘tax spillover’ effects – or how one country’s tax policy impacts another country’s tax base, tax policy and economic activity. We were joined by a range of leading tax campaigners, researchers and politicians who led the debate with expert contributions.

Andrew Baker (Professorial Fellow at SPERI) and Richard Murphy (Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University) presented the key findings of their new SPERI report for the APPG on ‘tax spillover’ (download it here). The report sets out a new framework for calculating the economic damage of a global race to the bottom on tax. At the event Andrew and Richard argued that the whole debate on tax needs reframing. Read their latest blog on this issue here.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, outlined the work of her committee in calling for greater tax transparency and her work to convene the Global Tax Transparency Summit, which was held in London in December 2016. Meg argued that whilst we can question whether there is a global race to the bottom on tax between states, when it comes to the tax affairs of many large multi-national corporations like Amazon and Google the suspicion is that many are already at the bottom. However this is very difficult to know because of the lack of transparency regarding the tax affairs of large global corporations.

Tim Livesey, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Oxfam, highlighted Oxfam’s important research in this area and the crucial role that members of the public have in putting pressure on policymakers to do more to create a fairer, more transparent and equitable policy framework on tax.

Liam Byrne MP, Chair of the APPG, argued that tax is about much than revenue raising. It is an instrument in broader economic and social policy and so is at the heart of the inclusive growth debate.

The huge interest in the event highlights how quickly tax and its spillover effects are rising up the political agenda. SPERI researchers and the APPG will continue to focus on this issue and continue the debate in this hugely important area of policy.