Council tackles tax dodging

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Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has become only the second council in Northern Ireland and the third in the UK as a whole to agree to vet suppliers to find out if they have committed tax avoidance or evasion.

A campaign led by the charity Christian Aid is asking local authorities to use their spending power as leverage to force large corporations to pay more of the tax they owe.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council introduced this anti-tax dodging policy at a full council meeting on December 15, 2015 becoming the second council in Northern Ireland to take this step.

A similar motion had previously been passed at Belfast City Council in April 2015.

The measures were introduced by Councillor Nathan Anderson, who said: “Councils promote business because they recognise that it is a public good.

“Tax avoidance restricts the positive potential that business have on people. These questions bring much needed accountability to businesses and remind them that they exist for human flourishing as well as profit.”

Christian Aid’s campaign coordinator, David Thomas, added: “It is only right that large companies bidding for lucrative tax-payer funded council contracts should be expected to be socially responsible tax-payers themselves.”

Councils are asked to include a range of tax compliance questions, devised by the central Westminster government, in their procurement procedures when companies are bidding for contracts over a certain threshold value.

The questions aim to reveal whether companies have been involved in abusive tax practices anywhere in the world and councils can then take this information into consideration when choosing who to award contracts to.

Christian Aid hope that the introduction of these tax compliance questions, will send a powerful message to companies that tax dodging is unacceptable and may damage their reputation and ultimately their ability to win public contracts.