COFFERS researchers Richard Murphy and Saila Stausholm publish report on the Big Four.

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:

Bloomberg BNA

Süddeutsche Zeitung



Leyla Ates’s recently published a country report on Turkey entitled “Assessing BEPS: origins, standards and responses” within the framework of the 71st Congress of IFA which will take place in Brazil later this year (August 27-September 01, 2017). In her report, she identifies a number of specific issues pertaining to Turkey, including the problem of dedicating scare administrative resources to initiates that are not necessarily domestic priorities, even though Turkey is aligned in general policy terms with the BEPS principles.

The International Fiscal Association (IFA) is a leading non-governmental, international non-profit organization devoted to the study of international tax law. All country reports and the report of general reporters are published in Volume 102a, Cahiers de Droit Fiscal International. This volume’s aim is to gain insights from the BEPS project on how to improve the outcomes of future tax cooperation efforts. As well-known base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations. To tackle BEPS, the OECD has initiated the BEPS project in 2013.

The online versions of the Cahier is available on the website of IFA’s sister organization, the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD).


New Report – Delivering a level playing field for offshore bank accounts

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.