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Global Tax 50 2017: Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is a new entry this year

The political emergence of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, in the 2017 general election put the socialist on the world stage. Corbyn's near-miss election changed the UK's political dynamic.

During the election, he campaigned to increase corporation tax by nearly a third and, in good faith, released a copy of his own tax return to encourage transparency about tax arrangements among political leaders, sending a clear signal that he stands by his beliefs.

Through his election mandate, he set the country on course for tax hikes to facilitate spending, proposing to rid favourable tax regulations for multinationals. He also raised attention to the dangers that automation poses to jobs, suggesting methods to tax technology.

Although he is not in power, his influence has pressured the governing Conservative Party, which lacks a parliamentary majority, into reconsidering several tax policies.

He has played a key role in campaigning for a full public inquiry into tax avoidance and evasion schemes. Corbyn has also been calling for the adoption of a register of companies and trusts and who benefits from them, a new tax enforcement unit in HMRC and an end to public contracts for companies abusing the system.

"It is by no means all big businesses but these actions by a few undermine trust in all businesses. And businesses are the victim too, not just reputationally but financially. Those businesses that play by the rules and pay the taxes they owe are being undercut by those who don't," Corbyn said.

Throughout 2017, the Labour Party Leader has been persistent in ensuring the UK support tax avoidance and evasion proposals made by the European Commission. During Parliament discussions, Corbyn insisted on continuing the adoption of transparency regulations to curb tax avoidance. When the Conservative Party members of the European Parliament voted against country-by-country-reporting and blacklisting, he fired questions at UK Prime Minister Theresa May, pressing her to support the measures.

Corbyn has also been the first MP in the UK to highlight the need for a robot tax on the profits generated by automation. "We need urgently to face the challenge of automation; robotics that could make so much of contemporary work redundant. That is a threat in the hands of the greedy but what an opportunity if it's managed in the interests of society as a whole… If planned and managed properly, accelerated technological change can be the gateway for a new settlement between work and leisure, a springboard for expanded creativity and culture, making technology our servant and not our master at long last. The tide of automation and technological change means training and management of the workforce must be centre stage in the coming years. So Labour will build an education and training system from the cradle to the grave that empowers people not one that shackles them with debt," he said in a keynote speech at a Labour conference on September 28.

The Labour party leader's approach to tax reform is seen as extreme by the Prime Minister, but even May herself concedes to the fact that public opinion appears to be more favourable to Labour's economic ideas in an article she wrote in The Guardian. The International Monetary Fund also agrees that a higher tax on wealthy individuals, which was proposed by Corbyn, is crucial to stopping rising inequality.

Corbyn is indeed at the frontier of strategic tax reform for a changing UK economy. His influence extends to the prominent discussions takin place in government about how the country can use tax as an instrument for change.

With Corbyn seemingly unassailable at the top of the Labour Party and May circled by sharks within her own ranks, few would predict her to outlast him. The morning after the UK's next election – be it in 2018 due to Brexit-inspired government collapse, or as late as 2022 – is more likely than not to see the country wake up to its first socialist prime minister in more than half a century.

The Global Tax 50 2017

View the full list and introduction

The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence

1. US Tax Reform Big 6

2. Dawn of the robots

3. The breakdown of global consensus

4. The fifth estate

5. Margrethe Vestager

6. Arun Jaitley

7. Sri Mulyani Indrawati

8. Pascal Saint-Amans and Achim Pross

9. Richard Murphy

10. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order

Tomas Balco

Piet Battiau

Monica Bhatia


Rasmus Corlin Christensen

Seamus Coffey

Jeremy Corbyn

Rufino de la Rosa

Fabio De Masi

The Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union

Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez

The fat tax

Maya Forstater

Babatunde Fowler

The GE/PwC outsourcing deal

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

Meg Hillier

Chris Jordan

Wang Jun

James Karanja

Bruno Le Maire

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

Cecilia Malmström

The Maltese presidency of the EU Council

Paige Marvel

Theresa May

Angela Merkel

Narendra Modi

Pierre Moscovici

The European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA)

The Paris Agreement

Grace Perez-Navarro

Alexandra Readhead

Heather Self


Tax Justice Network

Donald Trump

United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters

WU Global Tax Policy Center

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