This is a joint post with Owen Barder.
International tax has continued to rise up the political agenda, and the crucial UK-hosted G-8 meeting is now approaching. We’ve updated our draft declaration that we would like to see from that summit, to reflect discussions that have taken place since then, and many valuable comments from a wide range of contributors.
Our main concern is that the interests of developing countries do not get forgotten in the horse-trading between now and the summit on 17-18 June. We welcome the efforts of G-8 countries to protect their own revenue collection, of course; but it is also essential that any reforms strengthen the ability of developing countries to collect taxes. Because they are not at the table in these talks, their interests can too easily be pushed aside.
That’s why we published our draft ‘Fermanagh Declaration’ in March, outlining our view of what a strong G8 communique would include to demonstrate real progress in tackling the problems of international tax evasion and avoidance and ensuring that developing countries shared in the benefits.
We’ve amended the draft in two substantive respects:
Transparency requirements for multinational companies. In response to smart comments from Sol Picciotto, Richard Murphy and Mike Lewis, and participants in an important roundtable discussion hosted under the Chatham House rule by ODI, we have made explicit the combined and country-by-country reporting that should provide the basis for accountable taxation of multinational groups.
Support for a UN forum for tax issues. Following discussions at the ODI event, we have changed the draft to recognise that while the pre-eminent centre of tax expertise is at the OECD, which is a club of wealthy nations, the UN is a more inclusive and legitimate forum for discussion of international issues, which corporate tax has clearly become. Specifically, we have added a proposal for G-8 support to the upgrading of the UN tax committee into an appropriately resources intergovernmental body.
In addition, we have dropped a paragraph on double taxation after useful comments from Martin Hearson, Mike Lewis and Markus Meinzer which highlighted the difficulties of framing a feasible and constructive commitment in this area.
Again, comments, criticism most welcome to Europe@cgdev.org.