Tax

On Anniversary of Tax Law, Celebrations Are in Board Rooms — Not Living Rooms

By Gary Kalman

Supporters of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might have hoped for a more celebratory first year anniversary.  The public has not seen the kinds of benefits promised — few have seen anything close to $4000 raises, and real wage growth, accounting for inflation, continues to be sluggish.  And despite surging corporate profits, the stock market took a tumble as other factors weigh heavy on the minds of investors. Even the board room celebrations are muted at best.

Read More...

Sustainability Panel Proposes Tax Transparency Standard

Global Reporting Initiative’s Proposal Could Bring Public Country-by-Country Reporting of Taxes, Profits, Revenues, and Employees to More than 4,000 Companies

Plan Comes as U.S. Senators Call on GM to Disclose Country-by-Country Data

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A global sustainability standards-setting body issued a proposal Thursday to have multinational companies publicly disclose basic financial information on a country-by-country basis, in a move praised by transparency advocates.  The Sustainability Reporting Standards from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are voluntarily followed by over 4,000 businesses in more than 90 countries.  The draft GRI “Standard on Tax and Payments to Governments” was developed by a multi-stakeholder technical committee consisting of representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers, MFS Investment Management, Vodaphone PLC, and the Tax Justice Network, among others.

Read More...

Senate Bill Would Plug Key Offshore Loophole and Reduce Incentives for Outsourcing in Tax Overhaul

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would make it harder for multinational corporations to game the offshore provisions in the newly adopted tax overhaul.  Sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Removing Incentives for Outsourcing Act (S.3674) would ensure that tax rates for profits booked offshore are applied on a per-country basis, rather than on a worldwide average basis — reducing the chance of gaming.

Read More...

Tax Transparency Fights Tax Avoidance

By Gary Kalman

Justice Brandeis once famously said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  It is a quote advocates for government and corporate transparency have repeated each time we are asked if any of “this stuff” makes a difference.  For the record, it does.

The latest evidence comes from a recent report produced by two German academics looking at whether a European Union (EU) tax transparency initiative had any measurable impact on corporate behavior.

Read More...

The Paradise Papers: A Year Later

By Jacob Wills

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the release of The Paradise Papers, a leak that included 13 million documents from a large offshore law firm.  The leak detailed a number of tax avoidance techniques used by the wealthy and multinational corporations to avoid taxes.  At the same time, Congress was rushing to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

In light of the Paradise Papers revelations, we encouraged lawmakers to carefully review the information from the leak and consider whether their overhaul would address the tax dodging practices exposed.  They chose not to do so.

Unlike the earlier Panama Papers story, where Americans were notably absent, the Paradise Papers had clear U.S. connections.  There was extensive data on the tax avoidance schemes of at least 31,000 U.S. citizens, residents, and companies including household names like Apple, Nike, and Uber.  Rather than consider lessons to be learned around how policies might work in practice, lawmakers chose to ignore the warning signs.  The tax law passed just over a month later with minimal attention paid to any of the insights to be gleaned from the leak.  It should not be surprising that the law continues to encourage multinational corporations to engage in offshore tax schemes.

Read More...

‘Financial Exposure’ Showcases Tax Misconduct by Powerful Individuals and Corporations

By Peter Della-Rocca

The story of tireless congressional staff uncovering brazen misdeeds by powerful individuals and corporations in Elise J. Bean’s Financial Exposure has an anchoring quality in the context of rampant scandal that has come to characterize today’s politics. Bean’s account reiterates the point that tax avoidance and tax evasion were endemic to our financial system long before allegations against a sitting president brought them to the forefront of the public consciousness.

While the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) is an investigative body rather than a policymaking one, the inquiries into abusive tax shelterssecretive banking practices, and corporate tax avoidance that Bean describes illustrate some of the central policy problems plaguing the American tax system.

Read More...