Tax avoidance by companies in the Methodist investment portfolio
Corporate tax avoidance is not a small problem, and nor is it limited to those few companies that have been named and shamed in the media. Unfortunately, as you'll be able to see from the data collected by ActionAid and published in The Guardian in 2013, pretty much every large company is in it up to their necks. The global financial system and the archaic laws that govern international taxation are so outdated and not fit-for-purpose that being able to reduce the corporate tax bill has become an inalienable part of the way transnational corporations do their business.
This is why MTJN have investigated the companies in which the Methodist Church invests. Our research includes well publicised cases like Vodafone and Barclays, as well as some less well known cases including Sainsbury's and the National Grid. To be clear, we do not want to disinvest in the companies who have been avoiding tax - otherwise we would have almost no investments left. We wish to illustrate the scale of the problem, and we are also working with JACEI (the Joint Advisory Committee on Ethical Investment) and CFB (Central Finance Board) to engage these companies and ask some serious questions of them regarding their tax situation. We are a public body with a moral responsibility to speak out against injustice where we see it, and in this instance, the Methodist Church can use its position as a shareholder to become a real voice for change to which companies will listen.
If you want to read our research into the Methodist Church's investments, you can download the research papers from our Resources page.
What can we do?
- Speak to your church's treasurer or finance board, and ask them to take up the issue at the circuit, district and Connexional level.
- If you have a Methodist Church pension, write or email to the fund manager, ask about how this fund is invested, and whether tax avoidance is considered as part of their ethical investment policy.
- Make a fuss! If you think tax avoidance is something that the Methodist Church should be taking seriously, take a look at our material on the companies in which we invest, and raise the issue at your church council, circuit meeting or district synod. Conference have already passed a resolution saying that the tax justice campaign is something the church should be engaging in - make this a reality!