Energy giant Shell has posted record profits of £32 billion, the highest in the company’s 115 year history.
These obscene profits, double what they posted last year, are largely down to soaring oil and gas prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The profits will boost the bank accounts of Shell's shareholders – Shell handed out £21 billion to shareholders in 2022 – while families across the UK struggle to pay their energy bills.
Last year we helped push the government to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies. But it didn’t go far enough then and it doesn’t now.
The government must increase the rate of the windfall tax and claw back more of these profits. They must close loopholes used by oil and gas companies to reduce the tax they pay.
And, as our friends at the IPPR and Common Wealth think tanks have said, the government should tax shareholder returns at a much greater rate.
Former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was finally sacked on Sunday over his tax affairs. He was found to have breached the Ministerial Code.
This is a victory for tax campaigners. Those in public office must have the highest standards when it comes to their own personal tax affairs.
An ongoing problem is that HMRC is under-resourced. As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, this may have led to them failing to collect billions of pounds of tax owed.
There is a broader problem - many super rich people will use any and all means to avoid paying tax, as I wrote in a comment piece for The Guardian last week. HMRC needs the tools necessary to investigate them.
We will continue to campaign for HMRC to be given more resources, so they can properly enforce our tax laws – and scrutinise the tax affairs of the rich and powerful.
Illicit offshore wealth exposed
Now for some good news. Owners of UK property will no longer be able to hide their identities behind overseas shell companies – long a tactic used to conceal what is estimated to be £100bn of illicit financing flowing through the UK.
A new property register forces everyone who owns a UK property through an offshore shell company to come forward and identify themselves publicly. The deadline for registering was Tuesday.
Unfortunately up to 13,000 offshore companies failed to meet the deadline. But many did, and thousands of offshore owners have been identified for the first time on the register.
This transparency will make it much easier for our tax authorities, journalists and campaigners to track the wealth of the mega rich.
The register was established as part of the Economic Crime Act, which we tirelessly campaigned for, alongside our allies. You helped push this over the line, with almost 120,000 signing our petition.
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