UK uncut, a movement which started in 2010, have raised awareness about tax dodging and its implications- before UK uncut tax dodging was not a central issue in British politics. UK uncut engage in non violent action, by peacefully occupying tax dodgers’ businesses and in addition bringing to light the public services which are being cut as a result of insufficient government revenue from tax. UK uncut have brought to our awareness the fact that tax avoidance by corporations and the rich cost the UK public exchequer £95bn a year – suffice to say a significant amount.
UK uncut began in 2010, upon the announcement that there would be the biggest cuts to public services since the 1920s – the very same day, a group of 70 people peacefully occupied the Vodafone flagship store on Oxford Street (Vodafone were dodging £6bn of tax). The event was videoed and subsequently uploaded online, going viral. Latterly, a website was created for the movement, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages. The absence of a formal structure to the movement has made UK uncut more broadly appealing, resulting in rapid growth and helping activists to organise actions without resriction – one simply has to click on the function called ‘ACTIONS’ on the website, where anyone can list an action, communicate the location of the action, and view where nearby actions are.
Additionally, Twitter has been greatly beneficial for the movement, acting as a medium through which to hold debates, with topics such as which corporations should be held account for their tax dodging and whether banks should be ridiculed for their role in aiding tax dodging.
The effect UK uncut has had upon public debate seems pretty impressive, despite its recency – many NGOs have begun to research tax dodging and their campaign prompted further academic study. Moreover, a Select Committee of the UK parliament investigated tax dodging in 2012, discovering that Starbucks had avoided paying tax on £1.2 billion of sales since 2009. At a time when the poorest of our society are suffering cuts to tax credits, it is hardly fair that the richest individuals and corporations should be able to accumulate wealth that is not rightfully theirs – the government must take a stand and attempt to close the loopholes which allow the morally corrupt to break the law. This is the fundamental issue with tax avoidance – it increases inequality. Corporate taxes are the principle way to tax capital: in Europe and the UK approximately one third of all capital tax income comes from corporate income tax, other sources of income are received in the form of property taxes, individual taxes on dividends, interest, capital gains, estates and inheritances. Tax avoidance thus results in a decrease in the successful taxation of capital. Therefore as there is unequal distribution of wealth, tax avoidance benefits solely the wealthiest of our society, resulting in upward redistribution.
Ling Ling Douglas