Tax, corporate responsibility and human rights: new paper

From the Boston University Law Review, a paper by Jasmine Fisher entitled Fairer Shores: tax havens, tax avoidance and corporate social responsibility. Its introduction contains this:

“The doctrine of corporate social responsibility provides a logical rationale for multinational corporations to adopt antiavoidance practices, in that the harm caused by tax avoidance outweighs any financial benefit that accrues from these practices.”

Quite so – as we’ve argued before, not least because corporate tax avoidance is like refined sugar in the human body: empty financial calories with adverse long term health effects. But it’s not just that. As Fisher continues:

“Some corporate leaders have demonstrated remarkable nonchalance toward or even expressed pride in their tax avoidance practices. For these corporate leaders, if national governments have not (yet) made it illegal, it is not wrong; in fact, in the view of some, fiduciary responsibilities toward shareholders may even require their corporations to engage in such activities. If this attitude prevailed in all areas of business, however, corporations would still engage in environmentally harmful activities, human rights abuses, and other forms of socially irresponsible activity for the sake of maximizing shareholder value.”

So: along with the clear links between tax abuses and issues of Corporate Responsibility, here is yet another linkage between tax abuses and human rights abuses – an area of fast-growing interest and engagement from academics, civil society and others.

Despite the gargantuan scale of the problem, there’s hope in all this, as the paper continues:

“Fortunately, the same mechanisms that helped environmental and human rights advocates convince corporations to engage in nontax socially responsible activity – that is, consumer activism, investor influence, and corporate leadership – have the potential to end the corporate tax avoidance culture and end (or at least mitigate) the harms of international corporate tax avoidance.”

So: let’s all get cracking. The new paper, as a reminder, is here.


Related Posts

The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]


Protesting PwC: Professionals Without Conscience

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceThis week is the global week of action for tax justice and on Wednesday 5th April activists from the Tax Justice Network and Methodists for Tax Justice held a protest outside the London offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers. The global week of action for tax justice is happening one year after the release of the […]


Germany moves forward on corporate transparency

ReichstagThe Bundesrat has today voted to recommend implementing a public register of the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts.  Great news from Germany, as the country takes an important step forward towards corporate transparency.


New estimates reveal the extent of tax avoidance by multinationals

Price Waterhouse CoopersNew figures published today by the Tax Justice Network provide a country-level breakdown of the estimated tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies. Applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset, the results indicate global losses of around $500 billion a year. The figures appear in a […]


Banking Secrecy in China, its related territories and Taiwan

Hong Kong from Sky 100Foreword. The Tax Justice Network is a non partisan network of experts working towards transparency, so we do not take any position about countries’ territorial and political claims. However, we do expect countries with a de jure (legal) or de facto (in practice) influence over other territories, to take responsibility for their power. We point […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top