Tax and Corporate Responsibility

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The UK's Chartered Institute of Tax ran a conference on the above theme on Tuesday. I was one of the speakers. My slides are here for those interested. They give a reasonable overview of what I said.

What was interesting was the convergence of ideas. Dave Hartnett, Director General of HMRC stole some of my themes in the first presentation of the day, and was kind enough to give this blog the first plug of the day. John Whiting of PWC, despite his claims to the contrary, is slowly revising the Total Tax Contribution framework to reflect many of my concerns. He went as far as to endorse country-by-country reporting and the need for the reconciliation of the tax charge in accounts with the tax actually paid by companies, both of them themes that have come out of my work. It's a just a shame he can't yet agree that this reporting should be mandatory and audited and be backed by the key indicators from country-by-country profit and loss accounts that prove the credibility of the tax data he recognises is needed.

Ian Brimicombe of AstraZeneca (who I have to say is, i always think, one of the good guys in the FTSE 100) agreed on aligning the economic substance with tax reporting, but this has been AstraZeneca policy for some time so that it not surprising, And Michael Conlon QC was happy to suggest that the EU has put paid to accounting through "diddlysquit" special purpose vehicles as a result of the Halifax tax case.

I'm not saying that there was harmony on all issues, but the degree of unity was striking. Even holding this conference would have been unthinkable three years ago. The possibility of even some convergence of view would have been unimaginable. That it happened and that this was the result is good news and a sign of how things have changed.

So where are we going next? There was considerable agreement that we were heading towards Codes of Conducts. The Tax Justice Network has its version out this autumn. It's going to be a fascinating debate.