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Country-by-country tax reporting: FT gets it right and wrong

Peter Truesdale, OBE

Those dangerous revolutionaries at the Financial Times give a big thumbs up to the OECD country-by-country tax reporting proposal with its detailed template for reporting. Here, Peter Truesdale explores the two sides of the coin, and discusses how with country-by-country tax reporting, the FT gets it both right and wrong.

According to them, of all the OECD’s 15 recommendations country-by-country reporting is: “the most unambiguously positive”.

Only one thing clouds their joy: “These reports will not be made public, however…the OECD may come to regret that the information will not be more widely available…Unfairly or not, public outrage at how little tax is paid by the likes of Amazon and Google pushed the topic up the political agenda.”

The last sentence gives the game away. The level of public interest in these matters will flush the statements out into the open.

What do companies like Barclays, Rio Tinto and Telefonica (page 32 of 196), who already voluntarily share country-by country tax data, have to lose by making their formal OECD-compliant returns publicly available?

When the law makes you tell the tax authorities that the main purpose of your Cayman Island subsidiary is Internal Group Finance, that it has two employees and makes $100 million profit, why wouldn’t your Press Office share that in response to an enquiry?

I only ask.

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