It’s an entirely standard complaint among the righteous that corporations abuse tax reliefs by demanding them for moving to a particular place. This robs the revenue of – well, we can all fill in that part, can’t we? A little looking around and we’d have no problem in finding Oxfam itself railing against such practices. And there’s justice to the complaint too. If tax reliefs are necessary to get someone to set up in business somewhere then why not extend that relief to all who would set up in business there? That very granting of relief is evidence that you, the taxing authorities, know that the taxes limit or prevent economic growth.
But it’s this which is so lovely. Oxfam seems to be moving its HQ to Kenya. You know, a place so shining and pure in its general economic arrangements and accounting. And:
The mystery over Oxfam’s Kenya move has been fuelled by Ms Byanyima’s secret Memorandum of Understanding and Host Country Agreement with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Oxfam says it gives it ‘tax relief’ on its HQ and ‘goods imported for official use’ but no ‘personal tax benefits’ or ‘immunity against law breaking’. It refused to give further details.
One aid expert said: ‘By cutting their tax bill in Kenya, Oxfam is depriving Kenya of cash to build its own schools and hospitals itself. Charity leaders rage against private companies which avoid tax.’
Quite lovely. No doubt the Tax Justice Network and others that work with Oxfam on such subjects will be along real soon now to decry this. Oh yes, they will.