Parliamentary committee demands that HMRC support public country-by-country reporting

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The Public Accounts Committee has said in its report on HMRC today that:

The Committee reiterates its call for greater transparency in the tax affairs of large multinationals “to increase the pressure on them to pay their fair share of tax”.=

It urges HMRC and the Treasury to lead the global debate for public country-by-country reporting, and push for international agreement on its introduction.

The power to require such reporting was set out in UK law following work by members of the Committee to promote an amendment to the Finance Bill 2016.

However, while HMRC is soon to receive country-by-country reports on the global activities of large multinationals doing business in the UK, these will be supplied in confidence and will not increase transparency over the tax affairs of these companies.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, added:

We continue to urge HMRC to do more to improve transparency around its work at home and within the wider tax system.

Our Committee is hosting a global summit on tax transparency on December 9, bringing together Parliamentarians from nearly 30 tax jurisdictions around the world.

A key aim of the event will be to work towards an agreement on a concordat outlining how Parliamentarians will hold Governments to account on tax transparency.

It is another important step in our work to bring greater transparency to the tax affairs of multinational companies.

We call on HMRC to build on the work of our Committee, drive the debate internationally about public country-by-country reporting and push for real change in the global tax system.

MPs can see it, and this is a cross party report, issued unanimously. But the government won't act. One has to ask who intervened between the understanding of the public interest that the PAC represents and the government's position and why those who have clearly lobbied so hard against country-by-country reporting should still be given the final say on this vital issue.