OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and Argentina’s Minister of Treasury Nicolás Dujovne presided today over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a centre of the OECD Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The signing, which took place in the margins of the meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Buenos Aires, establishes the OECD Latin America Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation, to be housed in the facilities of Argentina’s Federal Administration of Public Revenues. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Argentina’s Commissioner of Public Revenues Leandro Cuccioli and the OECD’s Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration Pascal Saint-Amans.
The OECD Latin America Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation will provide intensive capacity-building courses targeted at tax crime investigators and other related law enforcement officials, including prosecutors, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption officials, in particular from Latin American countries, that will support tax crime investigators throughout their careers. This will include broad-based courses on conducting and managing financial investigations as well as targeted courses on specific types of tax and financial crimes, such as those associated with crypto-currencies, money laundering and VAT fraud.
“The establishment of the OECD Latin America Academy here in Buenos Aires to train investigators in using the latest techniques to deter, detect and prosecute financial crime such as tax fraud, money-laundering or corruption, will strengthen Latin America’s capacity to tackle these crimes,” Mr Gurría said. “We are very grateful to the Argentine authorities for supporting this initiative.”
Illicit financial flows, including tax evasion and other financial crimes, have a large cost to government budgets and threaten the strategic, political and economic interests of all countries, with a particularly damaging impact in developing countries. These activities thrive in a climate of secrecy, inadequate legal frameworks, lax regulation, poor enforcement and weak inter-agency co-operation. Programmes offered by the OECD Latin America Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation will be an important contribution to the wider work of the OECD Oslo Dialogue, which promotes a whole-of-government approach to fighting financial crime.
The establishment of the OECD Latin America Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation builds on the success of the original centre hosted by the Gaurdia di Finanza in Ostia, Italy, and a pilot Africa Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation launched by the OECD, Kenya, Italy and Germany at the G20 Africa Partnership conference in June 2017. Together, these efforts have trained more than 550 financial investigators from over 80 countries. The first events planned for the OECD Latin America Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation are scheduled to begin in late 2018.
Published on the OECD on July 22, 2018
Stemming the legal transfer of wealth out of the world’s poorer countries is one of the most effective ways to help their governments raise the additional revenue needed to improve services such as education, health, energy and transport, a panel of experts said on 5 June during a high-level discussion in Geneva.
The comments came during the annual meeting of UNCTAD’s governing body, the Trade and Development Board, and the experts were addressing the issue of plugging financial leakages to help fill the trillion-dollar investment gap that developing countries face to fund the projects associated with the UN-endorsed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We know that the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals can only be achieved if we manage to mobilize national and international resources, which is far from the case currently,” UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said in her opening statement.
“One of the best ways of raising these resources is to plug the many financial leakages that have allowed inequalities to persist and indeed grow deeper between and within countries,” she added.
But as the speakers noted, the financial flows stripping government coffers are both illegal, such as criminal funds related to drugs, racketeering and terrorism, and legal, such as tax avoidance and the wealth stashed in offshore tax havens.
And the legal part of the pie may be the bigger and easier to combat.
According to the background note that UNCTAD prepared for the discussion, of the hundreds of billions of dollars thought to be hidden from governments, an estimated two thirds relate to cross-border tax-related transactions.
By Will Fitzgibbon
Government officials, arms merchants and corporations have spirited away millions of dollars from destitute West African nations through offshore tax havens, an investigation by journalists from the region and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found.
Offshore companies were set up for a global engineering firm that avoided paying millions in taxes to Senegal, one of the world’s poorest countries; for a little-known entrepreneur who won a contract to build West Africa’s largest slaughterhouse and for a well-connected arms trafficker from Chad. In several cases, the companies, as well as the companies’ transactions and offshore bank accounts, were not declared or are only now being revealed in more detail.
The findings were drawn from a collection of almost 30 million documents, representing several leaked financial records obtained by and shared with ICIJ since 2012.
From Cape Verde’s islands of white-sand beaches and rocky volcanoes to Niger’s vast deserts, West African countries are plundered by companies and individuals, while governments do little to stem the flow.
By Max de Haldevang
Britain is forcing many of the world’s most notorious tax havens to reveal their inner secrets, after prime minister Theresa May’s government caved to an opposition amendment that will make the UK Overseas Territories open up their corporate books.
The amendment requires tax havens like the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda to publish registries of who actually owns companies registered there. These islands now provide almost no meaningful corporate ownership information, resulting in abuse by kleptocrats, gangsters, and tax evaders—as found in the Panama Papers leak, where around half the companies exposed were formed in the British Virgin Islands.
Anti-corruption campaigners lauded the move. “The UK’s tax havens have featured in countless corruption and money laundering cases—ending their corporate secrecy will throw a huge spanner in the works of corrupt dictators, tax evaders and organized criminals,” Naomi Hirst of Global Witness NGO said in a statement.
By Matthew Gardner
From a decades-long strategy of exploiting state sales tax loopholes to its ongoing “HQ2” sweepstakes, Amazon’s leaders have rarely turned down a chance to use the tax system as the source of their competitive advantage.
The online retail giant has built its business model on tax avoidance, and its latest financial filing makes it clear that Amazon continues to be insulated from the nation’s tax system. In 2017, Amazon reported $5.6 billion of U.S. profits and didn’t pay a dime of federal income taxes on it. The company’s financial statement suggests that various tax credits and tax breaks for executive stock options are responsible for zeroing out the company’s tax this year.
The company’s zero percent rate in 2017 reflects a longer term trend. During the previous five years, Amazon reported U.S. profits of $8.2 billion and paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 11.4 percent. This means the company was able to shelter more than two-thirds of its profits from tax during that five year period.
Incredibly, Amazon’s corporate tax goose egg for 2017 doesn’t include the effect of a second big tax disclosure: the $789 million one-time tax break the company projects it will receive due to the new tax law. While the Trump Administration’s corporate tax cuts generally took effect on January 1st, the law includes a grandfather clause for companies that (like Amazon) have managed to defer or postpone tax liability from prior years.
Instead of paying these deferred taxes at the previous 35 percent rate, Amazon now gets an extra reward for postponing the taxation of this income: a 40 percent discount from 35 to 21 percent. This is the source of Amazon’s $789 million windfall.
At a time when Amazon is pitting state and local governments against each other in a Hunger Games-style contest over the location of the company’s new headquarters, the company’s new disclosure should cause some consternation among the state officials who have been most willing to pony up billions of dollars in tax incentives. In each of these states, Amazon’s sales tax dodging has pushed brick and mortar retailers to the brink of extinction, and its spectacular federal corporate tax avoidance is very likely mirrored at the state level. For states contemplating tax incentives for Amazon, the salient question is: what do you give a tax avoider who already has everything?
Published on ITEP on February 13, 2018
By David Pegg
The European parliament has voted to launch an inquiry into financial crime, tax evasion and tax avoidance, saying the Paradise Papers had revealed the “unfinished work” needed to secure fair taxation.
A special committee of 45 MEPs, provisionally entitled Taxe 3 in its terms of reference, will spend a year investigating issues including those raised in the leak of data from the offshore law firm Appleby.
A key focus for the inquiry will be the use of offshore tax havens to save on VAT. The leak exposed how the Isle of Man had issued £790m in VAT refunds to the owners of 231 private jets.
The Taxe 3 inquiry marks a further threat from the EU to the UK’s network of offshore tax havens following the EU referendum. The terms of reference specifically promise that “particular attention shall be given to the crown dependencies and overseas territories”.
The committee could also investigate the UK’s “non-dom” loophole, which allows wealthy individuals to avoid tax by claiming that their true home is outside the UK. The terms of reference say it will “assess national schemes providing tax privileges for new residents or foreign income”.
Tax advantages involved in the sale of residency or citizenship in so-called “golden visa” schemes are also identified as a particular focus in the terms of reference. The impact of tax avoidance and evasion on the digital economy will also be assessed.
“The Paradise Papers showed that there is clearly unfinished work to do if we are to secure tax justice in Europe,” said Philippe Lamberts, the co-president of the Greens–European Free Alliance political group, which lobbied for the committee. “We want to make sure that national treasuries are able to collect the money that is needed to build shared prosperity across Europe.”
The inquiry will need to be approved by a plenary vote. However, because it has already been approved by the conference of presidents, which represents the various political groups in the European parliament, this is likely to be a formality.
The Taxe 3 committee will follow up the work of the Pana committee, which was set up to investigate money laundering and tax evasion in the aftermath of the Panama Papers, and which reported in December.
“The pressure of the parliament for tax justice in Europe will be intensified,” said Sven Giegold, a German MEP who also participated in the Pana committee. He said the parliament would “investigate for the first time tax privileges for new residents or foreign income such as citizenship programmes or non-dom regimes”, adding: “Such distorting privileges are offered by Portugal, Italy, Malta, the United Kingdom and Cyprus.”
Last year the Guardian reported how EU member states, including Cyprus and Portugal, had raised billions of euros by selling citizenship and residency, in some cases to foreign politically exposed persons.
Giegold also said it was unacceptable that an EU blacklist of tax havens launched at the end of last year had failed to include “the most important places in the world of shadow finance”.
“In the context of Brexit, the committee will give particular attention to the British crown dependencies and overseas territories,” he said.
Udo Bullmann, the acting director of the Socialists and Democrats group, which pushed for the new inquiry, saidit was “paramount” to maintain pressure on EU governments to build a fairer tax system. “It is crucial to complete the work carried out in the successive committees, Taxe 1, Taxe 2 and the Panama Papers inquiry that were launched four years ago. The work to crack down on tax dodging must continue,” he said.
Aurore Chardonnet, a policy adviser on tax and inequality at Oxfam, applaudedthe establishment of the inquiry. “With this new committee on tax issues, the European parliament has again proved its willingness to tackle tax avoidance and push EU countries to adopt and implement the reforms needed to avoid an umpteenth tax scandal,” she said.
Separately, the UK Treasury has said a “review” examining the Isle of Man’s VAT treatment of private jets should be completed within the next few months. “HM Treasury is currently carrying out its review into the Isle of Man’s administration of VAT in relation to aircraft and yachts. HM Treasury aims to complete the review in spring 2018,” said the financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride.
By David Pegg
The United Nations has been urged by the Tax Justice Network to coordinate a global effort to end offshore tax evasion and corruption, amid warnings that the UK is continuing to insulate its overseas territories from financial transparency.
Commenting on the launch of the TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index 2018, which ranks countries on the size and secretiveness of their offshore sectors, its chief executive, Alex Cobham, said big financial centres had proven unwilling to reform voluntarily.
“The 2018 release confirms the long-term picture that the richest and most powerful countries have continued to pose the greatest global risks – with Switzerland and the US established as the key facilitators of illicit financial flows,” he said.
“If we are to end tax evasion, corruption, fraud and money laundering, the world’s major financial centres need to clean up their act. And since they are not willing to do that voluntarily, the UN should create a global convention to end financial secrecy once and for all.”
Switzerland, the US and the Cayman Islands are the biggest contributors to global financial secrecy according to the survey, which is published every two or three years.
The UK does not feature in the top 10 secrecy jurisdictions. However, the TJN warned that the country was continuing to frustrate moves towards greater transparency by protecting its overseas territories – former colonies, some of which have since become prominent tax havens – from reform.
The TJN acknowledged the UK had made progress at home, including by introducing a register of beneficial ownership for domestic companies, but said government efforts to encourage reform in Britain’s overseas territories had stalled following the 2017 general election.
“In recent years the government of the UK refused to impose more financial transparency on these territories, especially with regard to trusts,” the group said.
“To the contrary, it has actively protected them from international scrutiny, for example, by lobbying to remove them from the EU’s list of tax havens released in 2017.”
A spokesperson for HM Treasury said: “Overseas territories are separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected governments and they decide their own fiscal matters.
“Thanks to our leadership, all of our crown dependencies and overseas territories with financial centres are committed to all global tax transparency standards, including the Common Reporting Standard that makes it harder for companies and individuals to hide their money abroad.”
The US has risen up the TJN’s ranking from third position in 2015. The group said the increase was driven by “a huge rise in their share of the market in offshore financial services”, with no comparable reduction in levels of secrecy.
The US has also declined to take part in international initiatives to combat financial secrecy, such as the automatic exchange of information between states. Instead it has adopted its own approach, imposing financial penalties on overseas financial institutions that withhold information on US taxpayers.
“There is now real concern about the damage this promotion of illicit financial flows is doing to the global economy,” the TJN said.
Published on The Guardian on January 30, 2018
By Ndanki Kahiurika
NAMIBIA can expect to see its first transfer pricing audit early this year once the transfer pricing unit concludes gathering data from the affected sectors and companies.
Experts yesterday, however, said it would be difficult to establish how much money has been lost through transfer pricing manipulation (also known as mispricing), and to determine to what extent the practice is rife.
Transfer pricing happens when divisions of a company transact with each other, such as the trade of supplies or labour between departments.
Tax Justice, an international body which fights illicit financial flows, says transfer pricing is not illegal as long as the two companies agree on a certain transaction price and trade with each other.
However, Tax Justice says the practice becomes illegal when the companies manipulate the prices.
Although Namibia enacted the transfer pricing legislation in 2005 that gave way to the creation of a transfer pricing unit, it was not until 2014 that the country set it up.
The unit is supposed to monitor possible transfer pricing manipulation and ensure that multinational companies have the right documentation in place.
Inland revenue commissioner, Justus Mwafongwe confirmed the impending audits in a recent interview with The Namibian.
He said they could not rule out the possibility of transfer pricing manipulation in Namibia, as companies which are related to other companies outside of the country exist.
"They distort the prices at which transactions are recorded," he stated.
Mwafongwe said they were compiling data, and will identify which cases to investigate in the transfer pricing audits, based on the information gathered.
The pricing unit's staff have now been receiving training and technical assistance due to the support of the Africa Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), and this training will continue past March 2018.
Mwafongwe further told The Namibian that transfer pricing manipulation could be due to the corporate tax rate, which stands at 32%, while mining companies get taxed at a much higher rate.
"The temptation for multinational companies to declare their profits in low tax jurisdictions and pay less tax thus exists," he said, adding that companies may distort prices at which transactions are recorded.
The agency, when fully operational, will also work to the pricing unit's advantage.
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) research associate Max Weylandt, who is an expert within the extractive industry, told The Namibian yesterday that there is no way one can know whether transfer mispricing has occurred, or to what extent that has happened.
"That is the problem. This is a very complex issue that requires a lot of specialised skills to untangle," he noted.
Weylandt quoted from the mines ministry's annual report of 2012/13, which states: "Suspicious discrepancies on volumes and values of mineral commodities declared on the royalty payment schedule leads to under-estimation of royalties".
"In some cases, transfer pricing is suspected", adding that the government now taking steps to see whether its worries were justified is a positive step.
Weylandt also said the move to have audits would deter any business guilty of dodging taxes through transfer pricing manipulation.
The researcher said it is not easy for anyone to engage in transfer mispricing as it involves complicated business arrangements.
"The key point is that large multinational corporations who want to engage in mispricing often have more access to the skills and resources than the government trying to detect and punish it," he added.
Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian, Nico Smit said the government has been complacent in pushing for the operation of the transfer pricing unit, and that this shows that some politicians are benefiting.
"They are deliberately dragging their feet so that those who have shares in these companies, like their families and friends and even themselves, can continue benefiting," he charged.
Smit, who urged that the unit becomes fully operational to curb the outflows of millions of dollars from the country, said the government is trying to fool people by having the necessary laws in place without implementing them.
"We must enforce these laws as we cannot afford to lose more money," he added.
Smit said the country also needs to broaden its tax base, but that cannot happen when there are loopholes and incentives in place allowing various companies to move profits out of the country, or pay little or no taxes.
Audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers points out on its website that the unit will need to investigate where management services are provided from a low tax jurisdiction, or where local loss-making companies have a high-interest rate, in comparison to market-related prices.
In 2015, a report by a high-level panel on illicit financial flows chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki revealed that over US$50 billion had been lost in illicit financial flows between 2000 and 2008.
President Hage Geingob also took a stance on the issue, urging African countries to close any loopholes, as the same money lost could be used for development.
Just last year, the European Union blacklisted Namibia as a tax haven for the country's delay in submitting compliance documents which show that the state has laws in place to fight those who fail to cooperate or deal efficiently with tax-related matters and illicit financial flows.
Published on AllAfrica on January 15, 2018
By Jordan Weissmann
If ever there was a piece of legislation designed to guarantee that r stayed greater than g, it’s the Republican tax bill.
Remember “r>g”? It was the notation Thomas Piketty made briefly famous in his book Capital in the 21st Century, the French economist’s shorthand for the dangers that accumulated wealth could pose to society. When the rate of return (“r”) on capital assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, or factory equipment jumps higher than the rate of economic growth (“g”), he argued, we should expect inequality to swell.
Piketty’s theories aren’t exactly gospel these days. But I’ve been thinking about them a lot as I watched the GOP’s tax bill gallop towards passage (and not only because Piketty himself has been raging about it). After all, the plan is designed specifically to reward wealth—to make sure that corporate shareholders and private business owners can pocket more of our national income each year, before passing it onto their children, with only the flimsiest economic rationale to justify this. It’s a real-time demonstration of how growing inequality paves the way for moneyed interests to exert ever more control over politics and the economy, leading to the kind of world dominated by capital and inherited wealth that Piketty has warned about.
Wealth inequality has already been on a steady rise in the U.S. for years—according to the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, America’s top 1 percent of households own more of the country’s net worth than they have at any time since the study first started in 1989. As outrageous fortunes have grown, we’ve seen billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson and the Mercer family—not to mention many smaller, but still rich donors—pour ever more money into politics. The question has been whether their efforts would ever actually bear fruit for their businesses.
This is a nontrivial issue for the future of inequality and the economy. If corporations and business owners can keep the profits flowing by investing in politics, it means they can outrun the natural economic forces that might, over time, reduce the returns on their wealth. As we’re seeing this week, their investments in the GOP are paying off.
It’s true that the rich do well in general under the Republican plan--in 2025, a quarter of its benefits go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, 85 percent of whom will get a cut that year, according to the Tax Policy Center. But the bill is especially devoted to bulking up business profits. Republicans are reducing the corporate tax rate tremendously, dropping it from 35 percent to 21 percent, which will let CEOs shower their shareholders with more buybacks and dividends.
They are also offering a large break for so-called pass-through businesses, such as the Trump Organization or your local NFL franchise, which aren’t subject to the corporate income tax. Not counting the bill’s one-time levy on profits that companies like Apple and Google have stashed overseas, the business tax changes Republicans are enacting make up around two-thirds of their legislation’s $1.46 trillion price tag. Toss in the bill’s changes to the estate tax, which will double the amount of money today’s wealthy can pass on to their kids tax free, and you get a big, gold-wrapped Christmas gift for capital. “R” is going bonkers next year.
And what do the rest of us get in return? Republicans have promised a burst of economic growth and higher wages for workers, as companies plow their profits into investments, such as new assembly lines or office buildings. But almost nobody outside the White House or Congress is really expecting a boom. While many mainstream economists think the corporate tax cuts will boost the economy slightly--we’re talking less than one tenth of a percentage point per year, by some estimates--pretty much none believe they will generate enough growth for the bill to pay for itself, as GOP lawmakers have insisted it will, or lead to the kind of stupendous pay raises for the middle class that the administration has advertised. As for the pass-through breaks that will benefit our president? We’ve seen this movie play out already in Kansas, where state legislators finally repealed a similar tax scheme this year, after it led to spiraling deficits and rampant tax dodging while failing to produce any detectable economic growth.
As bad as the bill’s economics are, its politics seem to be worse. Somehow, Republicans have written a bill that gives away $1.5 trillion that less than one-quarter of Americans approve of. Some of that may be a messaging failure; about 32 percent of Americans said they expected to pay more in taxes under the bill, whereas only about 5 percent should next year. But it’s also possible voters just hate the bill because, as survey after survey has shown, corporate tax cuts have always been unpopular. There’s a good reason for this: Only about half of families own any stocks at all, and just one-third own more than $10,000’s worth. Most families don’t have much of a portfolio to speak of, and after years of watching big businesses lap up profits while wages stagnated, they don’t believe their fortunes are connected with corporate America’s. And for the most part, they’re right.
All of which leaves us with the overriding question: Why? Why would Republicans pass a bill so wretchedly unpopular to benefit such a small slice of Americans? Some lawmakers, like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Chris Collins, have bluntly admitted that their donors simply demand it. Others, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, may be true believers in conservative economic dogma. And others could be self-interested: The Senate originally planned a smaller pass-through cut, until Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson threatened to kill the whole effort unless it was expanded, an expansion that may benefit his family’s own business interests.
But the overarching reason is the same: The Republican party answers to the interests of wealth. Lawmakers listen to their donors. They listen to conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation or Hoover Institution, which are funded by the wealthy to create an intellectual justification for deeply regressive policy making. And sometimes, they just listen to their own accountants. The result is a tax code that favors the interests of entrenched money. After three decades of rising wealth inequality, business owners and investors are finding new ways to extend their run. The question now is how the rest of us can stop them.
Published on Slate on December 20, 2017
By Liz Nelson
The United Nations Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights has released a strong statement on the ethical responsibility of corporations in the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations. The current Independent Expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky has said ““Corporate tax abuse undermines social justice and human rights worldwide.” His remit includes monitoring the impact of illicit financial flows on human rights and here he helpfully steers away from the immediate obsession with celebrity and individual greed, instead focusing on the systemic flaws of the global system, in particular calling out “the law firms that facilitate tax avoidance schemes must assume their responsibility.” It is encouraging that the UN is signaling an awareness and understanding of the devastation reaped globally by Illicit finance, tax abuse and financial secrecy. We share his statement here in full:
Paradise Papers: States must act against abusive tax conduct of corporations – UN human rights expertsGENEVA (9 November 2017) – International corporations responsible for systematic tax abuse should be downgraded by rating agencies and investment funds in their environmental, social and governance performance, UN human rights experts have said, as information from the leaked Paradise Papers continues to be made public.
“States must stop harmful tax competition amongst each other and work together to stop unethical tax avoidance schemes for wealthy individuals and international corporations. Corporate tax abuse undermines social justice and human rights worldwide,” said Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, whose remit as a UN Independent Expert includes monitoring the impact of illicit financial flows on human rights.
The Paradise Papers have exposed systematic tax avoidance schemes by well-known international corporations, making use of tax havens in places such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and the Isle of Man.
“We call on businesses to assume their corporate responsibility, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, said Surya Deva, chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. “All business enterprises have a responsibility to avoid adverse human rights impacts caused or contributed by their tax evasion practices”.
The experts stressed how business enterprises should comply with both the letter and spirit of tax laws and duly contribute to the public finances of the countries in which they operate, as also clarified in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The experts note that the series of scandals, including the Luxembourg and Bahamas leaks, the HSBC files, the Panama Papers, and now the Paradise Papers, made it clear there were widespread practices of tax abuse that had to be addressed.
“Wealthy individuals and international corporations are continuing to engage in unethical practices, reducing their tax burdens to minimal levels by using tax havens, which undermines the realisation of human rights” said Mr. Bohoslavsky.
The experts noted that many States are struggling with increased debt levels as tax revenues do not match public expenditure. “Instead reducing spending on social security, public health care, housing or education, Governments should make greater efforts to ensure tax justice,” the experts said
The experts pointed out that corporations use publicly-funded infrastructure to transport and sell their products, employ people who have normally been educated at public expense, and expect their managers and employees to receive publicly-funded health care when they are ill. Yet, corporations shift their profits around to reduce their own tax contribution to a minimum.
The experts also noted that the law firms that facilitate tax avoidance schemes must assume their responsibility.
“The UN Guiding Principles apply to law firms too – they should consider human rights implications of their legal advice given to businesses”, Mr. Deva noted, drawing attention to the Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers adopted by the International Bar Association in 2016.
“It is not sufficient for business corporations to ensure respect for human rights and international labour standards in business practices and value chains. These commitments have to extend to taxation, if firms are to be regarded as ethical,” the experts concluded.
The issue of corporate tax avoidance will also be addressed at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights that will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 29 November 2017.
Published on Tax Justice Network on November 13, 2017.