Public CbC reporting will do little for public confidence, UK tax professionals say

Public country-by-country (CbC) reporting alone will do little to increase public confidence in relation to tax, and it is inevitable that the public will continue to regard large businesses as tax avoiders irrespective of the level of disclosure, according to a leading UK tax practitioner.

A member of the public will see CbC data very differently from someone with a detailed understanding of transfer pricing principles, but is “unlikely to be interested,” said Ray McCann, a tax partner at the London law firm Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP and vice president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, sharing his personal view with Tax Analysts in response to the Responsible 100 tax transparency initiative. “Instead, it will be [the] views of the lobby groups that will grab public and media attention, and it is unlikely that they will let up on what they see as the abuse of the system by large multinationals.”

… Civil society views taxation through “the lenses of morality and fairness,” and tax avoidance scandals can be “devastating” to companies, according to Responsible 100, an initiative of Profit Through Ethics, a London-based company. A roundtable event to be held on January 18 will address the question, “Is your business transparent on tax?” Responsible 100 director Michael Solomon told Tax Analysts that “it beggars people’s belief to hear businesses say they would be open and honest were it not for the reason that such openness and honesty would then be used against them.”

Read more: My news story for Tax Analysts, 6 January (paywall).