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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 62. Dawn of the robots
3. The breakdown of global consensus4. The fifth estate
5. Margrethe Vestager6. Arun Jaitley
7. Sri Mulyani Indrawati8. Pascal Saint-Amans and Achim Pross
9. Richard Murphy10. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Tomas BalcoPiet Battiau
Monica Bhatia Blockchain
Rasmus Corlin ChristensenSeamus Coffey
Jeremy CorbynRufino de la Rosa
Fabio De Masi The Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union
Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez The fat tax
Maya ForstaterBabatunde Fowler
The GE/PwC outsourcing deal The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)Meg Hillier
Chris JordanWang Jun
James KaranjaBruno Le Maire
John Pombe Joseph MagufuliCecilia Malmström
The Maltese presidency of the EU CouncilPaige Marvel
Theresa MayAngela Merkel
Narendra ModiPierre Moscovici
The European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) The Paris Agreement
Grace Perez-NavarroAlexandra Readhead
Heather Self TaxCOOP
Tax Justice NetworkDonald Trump
United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters WU Global Tax Policy Center

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