Richard Murphy (53) is a chartered accountant and economist. He is the author of The Courageous State: Rethinking Economics, Society and the Role of Government.
We’ve got to take sides on tax. Rich individuals, corporations, well-funded special interest groups and much of Fleet Street is on one (the wrong) side and then there is Richard Murphy plus a few others, including yours truly. But it is Murphy who is the heroic figure. Tireless and forensic, driven by an admirable moral fervour, I take my hat off to a campaigner with Duracell batteries.
A graduate in Economics and Accountancy from Southampton University he was articled to Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in London. He subsequently founded a firm of accountants in London which he and his partners sold in 2000. In parallel with his practice career Richard was chairman, chief executive or finance director of more than ten SMEs.
Since 2003 Richard has been increasingly involved in economic and taxation policy issues. He was a founder of the Tax Justice Network and is director of Tax Research LLP which undertakes work on taxation policy, advocacy and research for aid agencies, unions, NGOs and others in the UK and abroad.
Richard Murphy has been responsible for introducing many new issues into debates on tax policy. In particular he created the entirely new accounting concept of Country-by-Country reporting that is now being considered for adoption by the European Union, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Accounting Standards Board and others. Country-by-Country reporting requires a multinational company to publish a proper loss account each and every jurisdiction in which it trades, without exception, and is seen as as a mechanism for holding multinational corporations to account for their activities in developing countries, the extractive industries and tax havens. It will also assist the monitoring of corporate transfer mispricing and is believed to cost developing countries tens and maybe hundreds of billions of dollars a year as well as corporate tax and governance risk in multinational corporations.
As principal researcher of the Tax Justice Network from its inception until 2009 Richard helped put the tax haven issue on the international agenda as principal author of such works as ‘Tax Us If You Can’, ‘Closing the Floodgates’, ‘Creating Turmoil’ and the extensive analysis underpinning TJN’s Secrecy Jurisdictions website and its Financial Secrecy Index. During the course of this work he defined what a secrecy jurisdiction is and this term has as a result been widely used in international dialogue on tackling tax abuse through what were previously known as tax havens. The practical consequences of this work can be seen in changes imposed upon the tax systems of locations such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, all resulting from his exposure of their failure to comply with international requirements.
Richard’s work for the TUC, PCS and others on the tax gap in the United Kingdom has also put this issue on the UK tax agenda. It was not part of taxation debate until the TUC published his report ‘The Missing Billions’ in 2008. It is now the main priority of H M Revenue & Customs’ business plan.
Richard is also a principal author of many of the proposals made by theGreen New Deal group in the UK, which has had a significant influence on political debate in the UK and beyond. He has written extensively on tackling the UK’s deficit without imposing cuts on the most vulnerable in society.
Richard has written widely, and blogs frequently. He has appeared in many radio and television documentaries on taxation issues. He has also presented written and oral evidence to select committee committees of the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Richard has been a visiting fellow at Portsmouth University Business School, the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex and at the Tax Research Institute, University of Nottingham.
He is a co-author of ‘Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works‘, Cornell University Press, 2009. He is now working on a new book entitled ‘The Joy of Tax’.
Richard was voted the seventh most influential left wing thinker in 2010/11 in a Left Foot Forward poll, making him the highest ranked UK based economist on the list.