No Role for Public Scrutiny in OECD Plan to Curb Corporate Tax Dodging

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FTC

From the Financial Transparency Coalition, of which TJN is an active member: 

No Role for Public Scrutiny in OECD Plan to Curb Corporate Tax Dodging

For Immediate Release
September 16, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) new recommendations to fight multinational corporate tax avoidance look robust from the onset, but there’s something missing. Since the most vital reporting information will remain out of the reach of ordinary citizens, the recommendations don’t do enough to bring transparency to a global financial system badly in need of it.

The OECD’s project on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) is intended to crack down on the ability of corporations to move profits overseas, through mis-invoicing trade transactions to avoid taxes, and other dubious practices. With nearly a trillion dollars leaving developing country economies each year in illicit cash, coordinated global action to plug the loopholes is desperately needed. But key elements of the financial data collected will be kept confidential, and out of the public’s view.

“Elements of the model template for country-by-country reporting are robust, but there’s a huge value in making this information public and they didn’t take that step,” said Koen Roovers, Lead Advocate in Europe for the Financial Transparency Coalition. “The new OECD recommendations offer a veil of confidentiality that could perpetuate the very secrecy it’s intended to address.”

Conscious consumers and concerned citizens were vital in putting this issue on the international agenda. By not making financial information public, ordinary citizens, journalists and watchdog groups will simply be locked out and unable to assess if companies are paying their fair share where they operate. Governments with thinly-stretched revenue authorities can benefit from the “crowd-sourcing” effect of making data public, as it enlists the public’s help in holding corporations accountable.

Recent surveys have shown that a majority of business executives are in favor of public disclosure of this type of financial information.

“If CEOs support making this information public, why hasn’t the OECD followed suit?” Roovers added.

##

Contacts: 

Verena von Dershau (Europe)
Vvonderschau@financialtransparency.org
+33 6 95 43 29 28

Christian Freymeyer (U.S.)
cfreymeyer@financialtransparency.org
+1 410 490 6850

Notes to Editors:

[1] The Financial Transparency Coalition is a global network of nine NGOs spanning five continents, and 150 allied organizations. We work to curtail illicit financial flows through the promoton of a transparent, accountable and sustainable financial system that works for everyone. 

[2] The international auditing firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers carried out a survey of more than 1,300 CEOs around the world. 59% said they supported a requirement for multinational corporations to make country-by-country financial information publicly available.

With apologies for the late posting of this. See also our earlier blog looking at the Country by Country reporting aspects of this.

Update: please also see this fuller report by our partners ActionAid, looking at the BEPS process. The report – The BEPS Process: Failing to deliver for developing countries  – found that:

  • Poor countries were not invited as equal negotiating partners in the BEPS process – they were merely asked to participate in consultations.
  • A number of key areas of tax avoidance affecting poor countries – including the question on where companies should pay tax on money earned in developing countries – were not considered.
  • Key recommendations on changes to tax legislation made in the report are either too expensive or too technical for some of the poorest countries in the world to implement.

 


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