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Five Years of Pushing for Change: Assessing Corporate Tax Strategies

Five Years of Pushing for Change: Assessing Corporate Tax Strategies

16-04-2019 | Article

Though it lacks the magnitude of climate change, the excitement of technological innovation, and the visibility of gender equality, a company’s approach to its tax obligations is nevertheless a critical element to consider when evaluating a company’s sustainability profile.

Speed Read

  • Competition between tax territories has created a race to the bottom among companies to arbitrage tax liabilities
  • Governments worldwide are increasingly taking measures against so-called base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS)
  • Compliance and disclosure is increasing among Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) participants; nearly half (47%) of companies meet our definition of a sustainable tax strategy—a five-fold increase since 2014
  • An increasing share of companies are showing a commitment to sustainable tax policies, eschewing opportunities for tax optimization in favor of clarity, transparency and disclosure.
  • Regional comparisons of tax sustainability results, show higher scores for Europe and Asia-Pacific companies whereas North American firms scored lower.

We are moving towards a new era of sustainability in which we look beyond companies’ policies and reporting towards their impact on the world around them. Taxes are a critical link between companies and their surrounding societies—they provide the means for communities and countries to build the physical, social, and educational infrastructure needed to support future growth and development.

Furthermore, aggressive corporate tax optimization is often seen as a contributing factor to rising levels of inequality. Developing countries lose around USD 100 billion in annual tax revenues due to multinationals shifting their profits to tax havens.

We recognized early on that a company’s tax strategy could put it at risk in terms of reputation, regulation and ultimately financial performance. Since 2014, the CSA has captured material, tax-related data and incorporated it into company sustainability scores and rankings.

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