noun: the point of origin or issue. verb: obtain from a particular place; find out where something can be obtained.
noun: a campaign, brought to you by the Christian Aid Collective, designed to help you get to the root of unethical uni suppliers.
It’s not a sexy subject. It’s numbers and spreadsheets and percentages.
Rage against injustice and war?
It’s not an obvious choice for a social justice campaign either.
It’s a potent mix of incomprehensible and boring.
Shout out against hunger?
No problem. But tax?
Once, the legendary legal mastermind Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr was asked by a secretary: ‘Don’t you hate to pay taxes?’ – to which the US Supreme Court Justice replied:
Unsexy as it may be, tax also happens to be one of the most powerful tools developing countries can use to lift themselves out of poverty. It helps governments pay for stuff: frivolous things like education,
healthcare, transport and pretty much everything else that keeps countries humming along.
I mean, we could have stopped that list at education and you’d still be on board the tax-is-awesome train, right?
The man had a point.* *And he used the word ‘feller’ – so double points.
So, we’re agreed we should all pay tax. But you know who’s been dodging fares on the tax-is-awesome train? Large multinationals operating all over the globe. The amount of tax they’re supposed to pay could make a huge difference – especially to developing countries.
That’s why it’s so wrong that some multinationals use every trick in the book (the tax book – it’s not a bestseller) to avoid paying what they owe where it’s needed most.
Some companies hide the bulk of their money below the surface. The profits they eventually declare are just the tip of a giant iceberg of greed. Bingo: massive profits and minimal tax.
As a student, you’re in the rather enviable position of getting a say in how your university spends its cash. And universities are big spenders – they have all sorts of contracts on offer for companies who do building work, clean things, run your IT, feed you and serve you alcohol. The giant multinational corporations want these contracts. They can’t help themselves: it’s worth millions to them.
So wouldn’t it be great if your university started asking pointed tax questions of the companies they are looking to work with?
The good news is these questions already exist. The government has written them: they just need people to insist we use them. As a student union member, you can ask your universityâ€™s procurement department to commit to including these questions in their contracts process.
It would be a major stumbling block for any company wholly committed to acting like cartoon villains.
Basically, YOU can get this done. YOU can make a proper, measurable change for the better and take a solid first step towards keeping tax dodgers off campus permanently. YOU can help make sure developing countries get the taxes theyâ€™re owed, run essential services for their citizens and get closer to tackling the sources of poverty.
Oh and one more thing: those same multinationals avoid tax in this country too. Without their taxes, the government needs to find more money for higher education from somewhere else. And so the fees continue to rise.
Find out more:
Now itâ€™s over to you. Get involved and campaign on your campus. Get yourself a Sourced backgrounder with more info from: christianaidcollective.org/sourced Or find the Christian Aid Collective at:
firstname.lastname@example.org christianaidcollective.org @TheCACollective facebook.com/christianaidcollective
Something to think about.
About the Christian Aid Collective We are a movement of young people and students who believe the world doesn’t have to be the way it is. We’re not content to tiptoe through life. We want to shout out against injustice and challenge the systems that keep people poor. We want to run towards a new world – a better world. To be love in action. Together we can be the generation that ends poverty. Together we are Collective.
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