We’re pleased to say that the world is moving towards the registration of beneficial owners (BOs) who are the natural persons who ultimately own, control or benefit from legal persons (e.g. companies) and legal arrangements (e.g. trusts). If made public, these registries would increase financial transparency. Public registers of BOs are the only way to prevent criminals from hiding behind opaque structures and nominees from facilitating tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and other forms of corruption, including the financing of terrorism. They are also a prerequisite for the smooth functioning of markets by providing basic information for market participants and regulators so they know who is doing business where, as well as for the wider understanding of patterns of national and international economic activity.
New 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 study published today by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER, in Helsinki).
A new research report published today looks at the current state and future prospects of a global public database of corporate accounts. We are cross posting this OpenDemocracy article written by Jonathan Gray, with permission from our partners on the open data for tax justice project at Open Knowledge International. You can read more about that about in our blog here.
The multinational corporation has become one of the most powerful and influential forms of economic organisation in the modern world. Emerging at the bleeding edge of colonial expansion in the seventeenth century, entities such as the Dutch and British East India Companies required novel kinds of legal, political, economic and administrative work to hold their sprawling networks of people, objects, resources, activities and information together across borders.
How much tax do multinational companies pay in your country? Leading tax justice campaigners (including the Tax Justice Network) and open data specialists are working on helping you find out with their open data for tax justice project. Today they’re publishing a white paper entitled What Do They Pay? which sets out a roadmap for the creation of a global public database on the tax contributions and economic activities of multinational companies. More details about the project can be found at datafortaxjustice.net. Hashtag for following developments on social media is as you see it on the right #od4tj
It is a fact that the trust laws of some tax havens openly promote illegality. The reality that some tax havens will not enforce foreign laws (e.g. ensuring non-recognition of foreign laws and judgements that favoured legitimate heirs and former spouses) is even publicly advertised by some offshore service providers, not on the deep web like drugs and illegal weapons, but on the internet, accessed by a simple google search on tax or estate planning.
Despite this, there has been some reluctance from governments to take on the issue of trusts, and some difficulties posed for governments that have attempted to deal with some of their more problematic features. Today, a new paper called Trusts – Weapons of Mass Injustice from the Tax Justice Network attempts to reopen the debate on trusts, and argues that there is urgent need for effective measures to curtail their activities.