Corporate social responsibility, tax avoidance, and counting spoons

   1   0 Blog, Tax and corporate responsibility

TJN has always taken a sceptical view of corporate social responsibility.  Our outlook has been shaped by the view that real social and economic responsibility starts with paying the right amount of tax, to the right country, at the right time.  The fact that so many multinational companies decline to do this speaks volumes about their true values.  So it comes as no surprise to us that research from a team at University of Oregon has revealed a consistently negative relationship between the largely self-reported CSR activity levels and paying corporate income tax.  The researchers conclude:

. . . for corporations and other stakeholders (namely governments trying to attract investment) “the payment of taxes is not viewed as an important socially responsible activity.”   Reinforcing this finding is the discovery of a strong positive correlation between the CSR activity levels of corporations and their support of lobbying to lower their taxes.

The seductive words of the CSR lobbyists have largely melted into air and there is little credible evidence that CSR has achieved anything of any real value.  As writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed, “the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Read the source research here

hat tip: Dr Gail Bradbrook

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About The Author

John Christensen

Trained as a forensic auditor and economist, he has worked in many countries around the world, including a period of working in offshore financial services with Touche Ross & Co. For 11 years he was economic adviser to the government of the British Channel Island of Jersey. In 2003 he became what the Guardian has described as “the unlikely figurehead of a worldwide campaign against tax avoidance.” His research on offshore finance has been widely published in books and academic journals, and John has taken part in many films, television documentaries and radio programmes.
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One thought on “Corporate social responsibility, tax avoidance, and counting spoons

  1. This reminds me of a comment by the offshore investigator David Marchant of Offshore Alert: he told me that when he finds a “Lord” or a “Sir” in a corporate structure, he treats it as a red flag. Theatre of probity, and all that.

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