For the second time, the steering committee of the COFFERS team met for a workshop in Vienna the 8th of March 2017. Located in the Biedermeier Mercure Hotel, the team discussed new theoretical approaches to ecosystem analysis and its application for COFFERS. The Workshop leaders presented their former and future work plans. Ronen Palan, Lucia Flores Rossel and Peter Gerbrands presented theoretical findings related to Working Package 1 (theoretical background) and Working Package 6 (policy evaluation).
The OECD’s Global Forum is set to publish the terms of reference for peer reviews on automatic exchange of information pursuant to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) in the near future. The terms of reference for that peer review process in many ways will define how the system of Automatic Exchange of Information works in practice. If assessments are too lenient or if they only focus on the legal framework (but not on what happens in practice nor manages to identify avoidance schemes), automatic exchange of information is unlikely to be successful. TJN has put together a report setting out what the terms of reference should contain to ensure that an effective system of information exchange is implemented. Chief among these elements are specific statistics to ensure compliance, identify avoidance schemes and allow evaluation by independent and excluded parties (e.g. developing countries and civil society).
The report describes TJN’s proposed template for statistics and explains how they can be used to identify avoidance schemes and cases of non-compliance.
Brigitte Unger PI of COFFERS met Asa Gunnarsson PI of FAIRTAX in Brno, Czech Republic 9th and 10th of March. Both are EU Horizon 2020 projects on taxation that end in 2019.
At the conference Brigitte Unger presented COFFERS, Combating Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators, which focuses on tax regulation and its impact. Asa Gunnarsson presented FAIRTAX which deals with sustainable tax systems and gender equality.
Richard Murphy, Petr Jansky and Miroslav Palansky presented papers at the Brno conference.
Petr Janský from CUNI took part in the FairTax special session of the conference Enterprise and Competitive Environment 2017
In his presentation titled “Country-by-Country Reporting Data and Locations of European Banks’ Activities and Profits” Petr Janský presented some COFFERS-supported as well as other research results on misalignment between reported profits and real economic activity across countries.
Miroslav Palanský from Charles Univesity presented a draft of a paper called “Estimating the scale of corporate profit shifting: Tax revenue losses related to foreign direct investment” written jointly with another COFFERS team member, Petr Janský. The paper uses bilateral foreign direct investment data to estimate, at country level, tax revenue losses that result from some corporate profit shifting practices.”
Link to the conference is found here
Alex Cobham, research director of Tax Justice Network and COFFERS researcher, recently published jointly with TJN’s Andres Knobel a brief analysis of a new OECD specification on Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR) – a topic very dear to COFFERS.
Their analysis shows that OECD’s new terms of reference to assess the implementation by countries of BEPS Action 13 related to CbCR may penalise countries, especially developing ones, that try to obtain by their own means the CbCR’s valuable data needed to tackle multinational tax avoidance.
The analysis can be read here: http://www.taxjustice.net/2017/03/07/19628/
A new article in a Review of International Political Economy special section on Global Wealth Chains edited by COFFERS researchers Leonard Seabrooke and Duncan Wigan. Here, with Dick Bryan and Mike Rafferty, Duncan explores conceptual and regulatory challenges posed by the rise of the knowledge economy and intangible assets, such a intellectual property, in terms of fiscal systems and the capacity to tax international firms. Using a framework focused on measuring (by accountants), managing (by corporations) and monitoring (by scholars and regulators), the article explores the longer term implications of internationalised capital in intangible and abstract forms.
Link to article can be found here
Public Hearing – The Role of Lawyers, Accountants and Bankers in Panama Papers – (Part I)
Brooke Harrington, Copenhagen Business School and Ronan Polan, City University London both participants in the COFFERS project participated in the public hearing – the Role of Lawyers, Accountants and Bankers in Panama Papers in Brussels on January 24th 2017.
What do they pay?
Towards a Public Database to Account for the Economic Activities and Tax Contributions of Multinational Corporations by Alex Cobham, Jonathan Gray and Richard Murphy.
This paper reviews the reasons for creating a global database of what is commonly called country-by-country reporting data. This information records the economic activities of and tax contributions made by multinational corporations.
It is divided into four main sections. Firstly, we present a set of user stories, questions, requirements, and scenarios of usage for a database. Secondly, we look at what kinds of information a public database could and should contain. Thirdly, we look at the opportunities and challenges of building a public database drawing on various existing information sources. Fourthly and finally, we suggest next steps for policy, advocacy, and technical work towards a public database.
Read the full article at Open Knowledge International here
Professor Richard Murphy, COFFERS researcher, Director of Tax Research UK and Professor of Practice at City University, London, addresses the UK’s House of Lord’s Committee on ‘Making Tax Digital’ and the idea that this will contribute to closing the tax gap – the gap between the amount of tax that should be collected and the amount that is actually collected. Professor Murphy refutes the idea and, over turning the accepted orthodoxy, argues that ‘Making Tax Digital’ will rather than close the tax gap, increase it.
Link to the recording of the hearing here
Petr Janský took part in a high-level internal governmental workshop organized by the Czech government on 10 February 2017 about the international corporate taxation, especially about the Czech Republic’s position with regard to the European Commission’s proposed Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). In his presentation, Petr showed preliminary results from a draft COFFERS working paper as well as other existing research on both scale of international corporate tax avoidance and estimated impact of CCCTB.