THE Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out about tax avoidance and claimed Jesus Christ taught about the importance of people “paying what is due”.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said companies and people should pay their “fair share” in the country where they had made their money, but part of the problem was an “unbelievably complex” tax system.
The Anglican leader, a former oil executive, said business was important and should be supported but there was a temptation to misuse the power that came through wealth.
He said: “There has always been the principle that you pay tax where you earn the money. If you earn money in a particular country, the revenue service of that country needs to get a fair share of what you have earned.”
Highlighting the complexities of the international tax system, the Archbishop added: “Someone said the other day that the tax system was of biblical proportions. Well, the Bible’s only a thousand pages – how many tax systems are only a thousand pages? They are several hundred times that.
“There needs to be simplification in tax so that people are responsible in the right place.”
He added that there was a “very basic principle” that “as a Christian we see that Jesus Christ spoke of, about the importance of people paying what is due”.
“The Bible speaks of it endlessly,” he said.
It is the Archbishop’s latest intervention on economic matters, having spoken out about inequality in recent weeks.
He stressed that “business is important”, adding: “We need to affirm the significance of those who generate and create wealth, but we also need to be realistic about the fact ... that with wealth comes power and with power comes a temptation to misuse power.
“There’s a reality of the human condition, of what Christians call sin, what the Bible calls sin, which says don’t misuse the power you have got through wealth.”