Quakers are campaigning for a tax system that fosters peace, sustainability, equality and integrity.

From the early days of Quakerism, Quakers have always placed great emphasis on honesty in financial matters, and been clear that "we shall not attempt to evade our proper obligations to the community by way of taxation." (Quaker faith & practice 20.54)

Yet there is more to tax justice than simply paying tax as individuals and organisations.

Areas of work

    Resource

    Publication: Tax justice: a Quaker concern

    This short leaflet introduces tax as a Quaker concern and sets out the key issues we are exploring. If you would like paper copies for your meeting, please email neweconomy@quaker.org.uk

    A Quaker view of tax

    Our Principles for a new economy briefing (PDF), which set out a Quaker vision for a new economy, states that 'the tax system redistributes from richer to poorer, with richer people paying a greater proportion of their income. It also applies to land and wealth. Payment of taxes is viewed as a matter of justice to support those things that contribute to human flourishing such as health care and education whilst discouraging harmful activities such as arms production and those causing pollution, ill health or ecosystem destruction.'

    Currently, when all taxes are included, poorer people pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than rich people. Meanwhile, unearned income such as rent and dividends is taxed at a lower rate than income from employment.

    Tax breaks for oil and gas, and a failure to reflect the true cost of pollution, are leaving us trapped in our fatal dependence on fossil fuels.

    Seeing these wrongs, more and more Quakers are being led by their faith to act in support of a just tax system.

    Our work on tax transparency

    The secretive nature of tax dodging makes it very difficult to measure. However, estimates from a range of organisations suggest that governments around the world lose out on at least $500 billion per year from multinational companies alone.

    Quakers were a member the Tax Dodging Bill campaign in 2014/15, along with many other organisations including Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Tax Justice Network.

    Since then, there has been significant progress on tax transparency, with the UK introducing a public register of beneficial ownership (showing who really owns a company) as well as requiring large companies to report on their activities, profits and tax paid in each country they operate in. However, many loopholes and exemptions remain.

    Our investments

    Like many other faith groups Quakers in Britain invest some of our centrally held funds. This give us an opportunity to emphasise the moral and business case for tax responsibility with the companies in which we invest. We have been doing this with selected companies in our centrally-held investment portfolio since 2016, asking them about their tax practices and encouraging them to adopt the highest standards of tax governance and transparency.

    Our partners

    Church Action for Tax Justice (CAT) is a coalition of church organisations and secular partners promoting tax as a public good and campaigning for a fairer and more effective tax system. Quakers in Britain helped launch CAT in 2018 and are represented on its steering group.

    Workshop: Tax justice – a Quaker concern

    How can we use tax as a tool to build 'an economy where Quaker testimony can flourish'?

    This session looks at why tax is key to equality and justice, and how Friends can take action for a just tax system. It includes an opportunity for small group discussions exploring the big questions about tax and its role in our society, and starting to imagine a better tax system.

    To book a workshop, email neweconomy@quaker.org.uk or call 020 7663 1071.

    Session plans can also be made available for groups who would like to run their own workshop.

    Related blog

    Poverty, austerity and choosing a different path

    13 August 2019 by Suzanne Ismail

    Contact us

    Olivia Hanks
    Economics and Sustainability Programme Manager
    020 7663 1037
    oliviah@quaker.org.uk