COMMONS

Summit backs push for greater transparency in global tax system

09 December 2016

Parliamentarians from jurisdictions around the world today added weight to calls for greater transparency in the international tax system.

Twenty-six Parliamentarians have now signed a concordat calling on governments to support greater tax transparency by multinational companies.

The latest signatories were in London for today's Global Tax Transparency Summit, hosted by the Committee of Public Accounts and attended by delegates from jurisdictions with a combined population of more than two billion people.

Central to the concordat is an agreement on support for public 'country-by-country reporting' to show, for each tax jurisdiction in which multinationals do business, their revenue; their profit before income tax; the income tax paid and accrued; total employment; capital; retained earnings, and tangible assets.

Jurisdictions represented at the summit were Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Guernsey, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Outline programme for future work

Parliamentarians agreed an outline programme for future work, to explore:

  • VAT; taxation and high net worth individuals in sport and entertainment
  • Further work on tax transparency, focusing on those who advise and facilitate companies and individuals
  • Holding a follow-up conference in Canada in 2017, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation
  • Broadening the umbrella of Parliamentarians and other stakeholders scrutinising tax collaboratively
  • Collaborating in real-time on coordinated work across Parliaments

Delegates also took part in four plenary sessions examining global tax transparency, action to combat tax avoidance, efforts to drive change in the international tax system and the impact of tax avoidance on the developing world.

Chair's comments

PAC Chair Meg Hillier MP said:

"Tackling aggressive tax avoidance and increasing transparency requires sustained cooperation across international borders.

The excellent support for today’s summit, organised and hosted by our Committee, highlights the strength of feeling on these issues and represents an important step towards addressing them.

We have agreed some strong themes to explore in future and more Parliamentarians have signed the open letter to our governments, urging greater transparency of multinationals' profits and tax.

Our Committee's work scrutinising government spending, and that of colleagues overseas, is always better when information is in the public domain and civilians can help us hold governments to account.

We want the same opportunity for people to scrutinise the tax affairs of multinational companies.

Businesses should behave like good corporate citizens and pay their fair share of taxes; no business should expect to avoid its duties to wider society without genuine anger from the public.

As Parliamentarians we must now keep up the pressure on our governments to commit to more transparent reporting on multinationals.

We have no desire to set up a whole new bureaucracy but we must be fleet of foot to deliver the action our citizens are increasingly demanding.

Tax avoidance does not respect borders and only by working together can we push forward on these vital issues that affect us all."

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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