UK bill to open details on multinational tax avoidance
A legislative amendment in the UK this week will give the British government the power to publish details of tax payments made by UK-based multinational corporations on a country by country basis, as tax authorities try to clamp down on the abuse of tax laws and aggressive tax avoidance. The change in the law followed cross-party calls for companies to publish the details of where they do their business and the tax they pay in each place, which came in response to the controversy surrounding a deal between the UK government and Google to repay £130m in back taxes earlier this year.
Caroline Flint, the Labour MP who proposed the amendment, said she and her colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee believed that the way that global multinationals “play the system denies a fair take for HMRC, which impacts on our public services”.
Last month, the European Commission ruled that Ireland should recover up to €13bn (£11bn) from Apple in back taxes.
Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition, described it as a welcome step but said it was important that the government actually uses the power it now has by releasing country by country reports of UK multinationals to the public as quickly as possible.
“It’s time to break out of perpetual scandal mode and make some changes to business as usual. A financial system that relies on plausible deniability and shifting responsibility is inherently shaky, and it’s simply not sustainable,” he said. He added that to put the world economy back on sounder footing, “more countries will need to join the UK and take up this common sense public reporting”.