The extended COFFERS consortium enjoyed a productive two days in Prague for our first Annual General Assembly. Hosted by our partners at Charles University and attended by Senior Advisory Board members, Jane McCormick (Global Head of Tax, KPMG); Professor Sol Picciotto (Lancaster University and Onati Institute), Professor Brigitte Young (Munster University) and Burkhard Mühl (Austrian Ministry of Interior) the meeting took stock of where COFFERS is and where COFFERS is going. Discussions included presentations on the tax implications of the Legal Entity Identifier, developments in the taxation of portfolio income, the tax gap and techniques for mapping tax ecosystem evolution.
Coffers’ researcher Alex Cobham from Tax Justice Network recently spoke at an event entitled ‘Technical challenges and solutions for taxing wealth in developing countries’ at the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meetings on 15th October 2017. Is a new Washington Consensus emerging to replace the old one, which arguably has contributed to growing economic inequalities?
The main criticisms of the IMF have centred on its leading role in promoting a ‘tax consensus‘ that not only lacks a sound economic rationale, but that has demonstrably damaged the benefits of tax for many lower-income countries. The approach, in simple terms, has emphasised indirect taxes at the expense of direct taxes; VAT over trade taxes; set a low revenue ambition, and left redistribution to be done through (limited) expenditure. More than ten years ago, the Fund’s own Fiscal Affairs Department – and Michael Keen in particular, now the department’s deputy director – published research showing how the introduction of VAT on this basis failed to replace crucial revenues for lower income countries. Equity, too, has long been an element of the Fund’s thinking. But for many years the organisation’s country advice, where policy decisions are influenced, continued to bang the same drum.
read more here: https://www.taxjustice.net/2017/10/19/tax-justice-new-washington-consensus/
In the wake of the Paradise Papers, a number of COFFERS researchers have featured in the media, sharing their expertise and views on the leaks. In Denmark, major newspaper Jyllands-Posten featured Copenhagen Business School researcher Rasmus Corlin Christensen discussing the rise of tax policy onto the global political agenda. On COFFERS, the article stated: “With participation from 10 universities and civil society organisations, the COFFERS project is – amongst other things – looking at how the international tax system works. It is one of the largest research projects in the EU to look at international taxation.
The European Union confronts expanded inequalities across a range of areas from gender, to generations, wealth, mobility and opportunity. One underlying factor common to these expanded inequalities is deficiencies in fiscal systems. The ‘Combatting Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators’ (COFFERS) project seeks to redress these deficiencies as policy innovation at national, regional and international levels undergoes a period of accelerated development.
As a part of the Impact dimension (WP7) of the COFFERS project the project team is offering a high-level course. The course is coordinated by Professor Richard Murphy and targets those working on tax issues within the public and private spheres in Europe.
Full course description and registration here.
Joint Perspectives on Fair and Sustainable Taxation – Open research seminar Brussels, November 21st 2017
The EU confronts increasing and persistent inequalities in income, wealth and opportunity and between generations, gender and regions. One common underlying factor is deficiencies in fiscal systems. FairTax tries to find answers how fair and sustainable taxation and social policy reforms can increase the economic stability of EU Member States. COFFERS identifies deficiencies and opportunities for upgrading in tax law, tax policy development, tax administration and enforcement.
To see the full program go here:
To register for this event, please go here:
On September 7, 2017, Dr. Joras Ferwerda (Utrecht University) chaired a COFFERS-themed panel at the ECPR conference called ‘Fighting Tax Avoidance and Tax Crimes in the European Union’. Other COFFERS-participants were Miroslav Palansky (Charles University Prague), Lukas Hakelberg (University of Bamberg) and Ruth Lynch and Martin Joseph Laheen (both University of Limerick). Each of the four attending COFFERS-partners presented relevant ongoing research on tax evasion. The panel was open to all participants of the ECPR conference and was well attended. Dr. Ainsley Elbra (University of Sydney) acted as outside discussant to give the COFFERS-members feedback from outside the consortium. The ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) General Conference is the main academic event for political scientists in Europe.
Link to the ‘COFFERS-themed panel’: https://ecpr.eu/Events/PanelDetails.aspx?PanelID=7150&EventID=96
Picture: Miroslav Palansky presenting with Lukas Hakelberg also in the frame.
Petr Janský of Charles University took part in the 73rd Annual Congress of the International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF 2017), held in Tokyo, on August 18-20, 2017. He made two presentations at the congress. In one presentation titled “Estimating the Scale of Profit Shifting and Tax Revenue Losses Related to Foreign Direct Investment”, he presented some recent findings from research with his COFFERS colleague Miroslav Palanský on the tax revenue losses due to tax havens, as well as some other research on the scale of profit shifting. In the other presentation titled “Country-by-Country Reporting Data and Locations of European Banks: Profits Shifted to Tax Havens, Turnover and Employees Elsewhere?”, he presented some preliminary results for banks and profit shifting and discussed the usefulness of the recently published country-by-country reporting data.
In his paper, Lukas shows how the liberalization of the common market facilitated cross-border mergers and transactions between related firms. Policymakers knew this would intensify tax competition among member states. Yet, fundamental disagreement between capital importing and capital exporting countries paired with the unanimity requirement in tax matters kept them from harmonizing their corporate tax rules. As a result of the persisting mismatches between national tax systems and the free movement of capital, tax avoidance is today easier inside the common market than in the rest of the world.
The common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), which the European Commission currently proposes, may provide a remedy to profit shifting inside the EU, if adopted. It foresees the EU-wide introduction of unitary taxation with formulary apportionment. That is, a multinational group’s total profit in the common market is calculated by aggregating the revenues and expenses of its European subsidiaries. As a result, a profit that is shifted from one subsidiary to the other will always be included in the group’s result, no matter in which member state it is recorded. Subsequently, the group’s profit is divided among member states based on sales, local workforce, and fixed assets. Intellectual property and other intangible assets are explicitly excluded. Continue reading “The Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation publishes a policy paper on tax avoidance in the common market by COFFERS researcher Lukas Hakelberg”
Miroslav Palanský from Charles University participated and presented in the conference Public economics for development organized by UNU-WIDER on July 5-6 in Maputo, Mozambique, where he presented recent findings of his joint research with another COFFERS researcher, Petr Janský. The aim of his talk was to present the foreign direct investment-approach to the quantification of corporate profit shifting and some preliminary estimates stemming from the application of that approach to IMF’s global direct investment data, which suggest that developing countries are the ones hurt most by corporate profit shifting practices.
Link to the conference can be found here
The GUE/NGL group in the EU parliament published a report July 5th 2017 by Saila Stausholm of Copenhagen Business School and Richard Murphy of City, University London, entitled ‘The Big Four: a study in opacity’. The report is the first of its kind investigating the structure of the Big Four firms, and finds that while it is difficult to establish precisely how many offices and staff each of the Big Four firms have in each country due to their secrecy, it is clear is that the size of their operations in a jurisdiction is not always proportional to its population or GDP. For example, the Big Four have more staff in Luxembourg in proportion to the size of the local population than in any other country; the Cayman Islands come second in this ranking and Bermuda third, indicating that they are heavily overrepresented in tax havens.
The ownership structure of the Big Four, in which they are legally independent networks despite their global brand and central management organizations, further reduces their regulatory cost and risk by providing a ring-fencing mechanism between their presence in tax havens and elsewhere.
Together, these findings suggests that providing professional services directly related to the secrecy jurisdictions are a big part of the business model for the Big Four. The report suggests ways to increase transparency of these firms and commit them to separate auditing services and tax advice.
The report has attracted the attention of several European newspapers.
Link to the rapport can be found here
Link to artikler can be found below: