As published on thefactcoalition.org, Thursday 11 May, 2023.
As major multinational companies face a wave of shareholder resolutions this month calling for increased tax transparency, FACT Coalition member Oxfam America has released new statistics demonstrating that investors with over $10 trillion in assets under management are calling for public country-by-country reporting of tax and operational data for large multinationals to inform investors about tax, regulatory, and geopolitical risks.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Finance (SFC) held a hearing Thursday examining the tax-dodging practices of major U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Per a report released in the wake of a 2022 SFC investigation, 75% of U.S.-headquartered pharma giant AbbVie’s sales were made to American consumers yet only 1% of AbbVie’s income was reported in the United States for tax purposes. This one case is illustrative of the broader problem of multinational corporate tax dodging. Public country-by-country reporting would systematically illuminate tax avoidance practices and inform investors in multinational companies.
Ian Gary, Executive Director of the FACT Coalition, said in a statement:
“Today’s hearing, in conjunction with growing pressure from policymakers and investors, puts the need for greater tax transparency into sharp relief. The abusive tax practices of many of the world’s largest multinationals – many of which are headquartered right here in the U.S. – have robbed governments of needed funds, and created instability and uncertainty in international markets.
“Without public reporting of tax information for each jurisdiction in which multinationals operate, policymakers will continue to struggle to build tax frameworks that effectively respond to profit shifting and other tax dodging schemes like those outlined in today’s hearing. Investors will also remain in the dark about the material, reputational, and regulatory risks facing companies in their portfolios.
“It’s now a matter of when, not if, public country-by-country reporting becomes the global standard for tax transparency. Australia is expected to advance the first world’s first public country-by-country reporting regime with global reach in the coming months. A growing number of multinational corporations are voluntarily reporting this data, and those that resist transparency are facing pressure from their own shareholders. As investor demand for greater tax transparency reaches a new high water mark, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should act decisively to cement a strong international standard by advancing public country-by-country reporting in line with Australia’s proposed regime.”