G8 leaders met in Northern Ireland this week to hash out a plan that would level out tax rates worldwide by prohibiting companies from taking advantage of legal tax loopholes.
The Lough Erne Declaration, released Tuesday morning, lays out 10 principles that are meant to encourage “fair taxes, increased transparency, and open trade”:
1. Tax authorities across the world should automatically share information to fight the scourge of tax evasion.
2. Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and multinationals should report to tax authorities what tax they pay where.
4. Developing countries should have the information and capacity to collect the taxes owed them – and other countries have a duty to help them.
5. Extractive companies should report payments to all governments – and governments should publish income from such companies.
6. Minerals should be sourced legitimately, not plundered from conflict zones.
7. Land transactions should be transparent, respecting the property rights of local communities.
8. Governments should roll back protectionism and agree new trade deals that boost jobs and growth worldwide.
9. Governments should cut wasteful bureaucracy at borders and make it easier and quicker to move goods between developing countries.
10. Governments should publish information on laws, budgets, spending, national statistics, elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account.
But some citizens remained doubtful that any substantive, practical changes would be made.
“It’s hard to believe that today’s agreement will really live up to its huge hype because it is lacking in any substance as to how it will be implemented or when by,” Samantha Taggart of the protest group UK Uncut wrote. “Style over substance rarely leads to meaningful change.”