Photo: Peter Elmholt

By:

Gitte Gram, Policy Assistant, Oxfam IBIS

In the past couple of months, the debate on responsible corporate taxation and its link to responsible business conduct has been echoed throughout Denmark and Europe in a series of debates, expert discussions and conferences.

In the following sections we provide an overview of the most prominent events in the last months, as well as the main issues currently being discussed at these events.

The Tax Dialogue Conference: “Responsible taxation and global competition”

On September 2nd, The Tax Dialogue held a conference in Copenhagen on “Responsible Tax and Global Competition”, where a broad range of stakeholders presented their views on responsible corporate tax practice and global competition.

The day included keynote speeches from the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition,  the Danish Minister for  Taxation Karsten Lauritzen, and Vitor Gaspar, IMF’s Director of Fiscal Affairs.

Along with companies, CSOs, academics, and investors they discussed different views, dilemmas, and developments related to companies and responsible taxation. As Margrethe Vestager highlighted in her speech; “We need a dialogue on fair taxation,” which is exactly what The Tax Dialogue initiative strives to accomplish.

CSR Europe: Expert Roundtable “from tax transparency to responsible tax behaviour”

On the 28th of September, CSR Europe invited company representatives, EU stakeholders and CSOs to a day of roundtable discussions on responsible tax behaviour as well as EU’s new tax transparency requirements. The roundtable clearly established that a link between CSR and responsible business conduct is emerging.

Furthermore, it was highlighted that tax departments alone cannot handle the challenge of corporate taxation and that CSR-, communications-, and risk management department have important roles to play, when companies work with responsible taxation.

Finally, it was also highlighted that stronger multi-stakeholder frameworks should be build between companies, investors, CSOs, and media to facilitate a better understanding of responsible corporate taxation, and thereby minimizes the chances of misunderstandings between stakeholders.   

The Federation of European Accountants (FEE): Policy roundtable on public CBCR

On the 20th of October, FEE hosted a tax policy roundtable, where the focus was on public country-by-country reporting (CBCR). A number of different CBCR templates are emerging, and the purpose of the conference was to discuss the pros and cons of the various models and the type of information disclosed in them.

FEE presented their own proposal for a CBCR template, while the CSO, EU, and OECD perspective on public CBCR templates and required information was also discussed. There is no doubt that there are still various perspectives on what should constitute public CBCR, and the discussion will evidently continue on what information should be disclosed publicly in order for CBCR to function as an effective tool against tax avoidance.

The Tax Dialogue workshop #7 also concentrated on this issue.

Responsible investors discussing taxation

In late August, DANSIF – the network of responsible investors in Denmark – held an event on “corporate tax responsibility”. The outset being that the environment concerning corporate tax planning is constantly shaped and challenged by a multitude of legislative initiatives as well as growing stakeholder expectations with increasingly concrete suggestions for what responsible tax practices could look like.

Furthermore, ESG ratings such as FTSE4Good and Responsible 100 are beginning to include tax as an element of their indicator sets. At the same time, emerging academic research is linking greater tax transparency to higher shareholder value. DANSIF therefore invited its members to an event to explore the complexity of corporate tax responsibility.

The event engaged key expert speakers from an NGO, academia and a rating agency in a discussion about corporate tax behavior, responsibility and transparency with a focus on investors’ relevance and possibility to engage on this topic.

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