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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 March 2017

Top banks post 67% of profits in tax havens - nationalise the banks!

We are the 99% - Take the wealth off the 1% Socialist Party placard, photo Paul Mattsson

We are the 99% - Take the wealth off the 1% Socialist Party placard, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Baldwin, Bristol South Socialist Party

A new report from Oxfam sheds light on the way big banks use tax havens to protect their profits. Their research shows Europe's 20 biggest banks reported profits of 18 billion in tax havens last year.

The banks claim to have made a quarter of their global profits in these countries despite them accounting for only 12% of their turnover and 7% of staff. While governments across Europe push austerity, big bankers continue to pocket money that should be funding health, education and other social needs.

The problem is even worse with UK-based banks. Between them, HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds, and Standard Chartered reported profits of 9 billion in tax havens - a massive 67% of their total.

Over 500 million of these were in six British overseas territories and crown dependencies such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey. They pay just 7% tax on profits in these UK-linked tax havens, compared to 20% in Britain. Even this is low. In the 1970s, Britain's rate was 52%.

Greed

Working class people are still paying the price for an economic crisis that began in the finance sector, partly thanks to bankers' greed and unchecked gambling. The government bailed out the banks and slashed taxes for big business and the super-rich. Partly to pay for it, we've been faced with public service cuts ever since.

This research gives us a glimpse into the murky world of tax havens. It's right to push for more transparency but these figures only add detail to what ordinary people already know - the super-rich are laughing while we get a raw deal.

We've seen the power these institutions have over our lives in the 2007-8 financial crisis and ever since. We don't just want to know what they're up to, we need to be able to control it.

They only way we can do that is if we own them. The banks and whole finance sector should be nationalised and run democratically by workers. So should public services and the biggest businesses. Only then can they be run to meet people's needs, not fill the pockets of a tiny minority.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 29 March 2017:


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