Money, tax and welfare

The recent Brexit leave campaign with its bright red bus swooshing by on the telly stirred up a lot of questions regarding resource allocation in my head. Happily proclaiming that money normally spent on the EU should be redistributed to the UK national health service (NHS) (1), the bus positioned not only the national versus the European and the global, but also how public funds are used, as well as the value of our common services. Moreover, it came with a narrative that placed institutions and people outside the national border as destructive to the British economy and welfare.

Coincidentally, zapping onto a Swedish TV show (Korrespondenterna) a couple of days later the same theme of allocating public money was discussed, however this time from a different perspective – that of tax evasion.

The European Commission estimates that around 1 trillion euros leaves the EU each year in unpaid taxes (2). An extortionate amount of money. Some illegally but also some through legal loopholes and tax planning meaning that large companies end up paying a fraction of what a firm not using loopholes would. This spring, European leaders agreed to address and cut down on these loopholes. The EU also sanctioned Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands for allowing companies and individuals to escape taxes.

Improving public services does not mean keeping people from using them and closing borders. It means to fairly contribute to these services and thus clamping down on tax evasion is one such thing. Referring back to my former blog post on doughnut economics, working against tax evasion to improve public services will help us move towards the social foundation of inclusive and sustainable economic development, and hence, inviting more people to take part in the services and prosperity in society.

/Anna Tranberg

Works with research and innovation at the Swedish governmental agency for innovation systems

Federation of Young European Greens COP21 delegate

(1) a promise that was withdrawn before most people had the time to boil the kettle the day after the referendum

(2) www.ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/tax_fraud_evasion/a_huge_problem/index_en.htm

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