Big companies push back against G20 tax avoidance plan

Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:23pm EDT
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By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - Big companies have pushed back against an international drive to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, documents published by the body charged with drafting new rules showed on Wednesday.

The Paris-based OECD published letters from European companies including Diageo and Gazprom and groups representing the biggest U.S. multinationals asking it to reconsider proposed measures on transparency and on tackling tax avoidance, saying the plans could hit trade and investment.

But the head of the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy said that, while the body would listen to companies, they had to realize change was on its way.

"Sometimes I fear that business considers that it is business as usual, and it's not business as usual, and a number of business people, at some point, will have to understand that," Pascal Saint-Amans said in a telephone interview.

"The leaders of the G20 have said that they want this," he added.

Big budget deficits and revelations that companies like Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) and Google (GOOG.O: Quote) use structures that lawmakers have labeled "contrived" to avoid billions of dollars in taxes, have led to growing calls to close corporate tax loopholes.

The companies say they follow the existing tax rules.

In September, the Group of 20 (G20) major developed and developing economies backed an OECD draft plan that advocated allowing countries to ignore inter-company contracts which were aimed at channeling profits into tax havens.   Continued...