Campaigners are calling on King Charles to take action against the UK’s “network of satellite tax havens,” which enable an annual avoidance of £152 billion in taxes. The Tax Justice Network, a coalition opposing tax avoidance, has written a letter to the monarch, urging him to leverage his position to push for a revision of laws that allow rampant tax avoidance across the UK, crown dependencies, and British overseas territories.
In the letter, seen by The Guardian, the campaigners highlight the financial and human toll borne by ordinary people due to the UK’s tax havens, for which King Charles is sovereign. They believe that his coronation presents a crucial opportunity to address this long-standing injustice.
Alex Cobham, the CEO of the Tax Justice Network, stated in the letter, “We believe your majesty can help by pointing the way to end one of the world’s most enduring injustices.” The letter was also sent to the Prime Minister.
According to the Tax Justice Network’s latest estimates from the state of tax justice report, the UK and its network of satellite tax havens are responsible for nearly 40% of annual tax revenue losses suffered by countries worldwide due to profit shifting by multinational corporations and offshore tax evasion by wealthy individuals. This makes the UK the largest facilitator of global tax abuse, with the estimated tax loss imposed by British tax havens exceeding £152 billion ($189 billion).
The campaigners emphasize that the lost tax revenue is equivalent to more than three times the annual humanitarian aid budget requested by the United Nations. Curbing global tax abuse aligns with the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2030.
Cobham acknowledged the UK government’s past progress in tackling tax avoidance but criticized its recent regression. He noted that the crown dependencies and overseas territories have delayed the establishment of public beneficial ownership registers, and there are indications that they may not establish them at all. Jersey has even introduced a new form of anonymous ownership vehicle this year.
Research by the University of St Andrews and the University of Leicester reveals that if the global tax losses caused by the UK, crown dependencies, and British overseas territories were reversed, significant improvements could be made in lower-income countries. For example, 6.4 million people would gain access to basic drinking water, 12.6 million would gain access to basic sanitation, and 1.2 million children could attend school for an extra year.
In response, a Treasury spokesperson dismissed the £152 billion tax loss figure and emphasized that the British overseas territories and crown dependencies have the autonomy to set their own policies within international standards. The spokesperson highlighted the UK’s leadership in international tax reform, including efforts to enhance tax transparency and implement a global minimum corporate tax.
Buckingham Palace was unavailable for comment.
Source: The Guardian