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CEOs back country-by-country reporting

Wednesday, April 23 16:09:03

Most chief executives globally would support the publication of country-by-country financial information to help stamp out corporate tax avoidance, a survey showed today.

Campaigners have advocated requiring multinational companies to disclose country-by-country information as part of reforms of international tax rules, but the measure is opposed by many big business groups and governments.

PricewaterhouseCoopers's annual CEO survey of 1,344 chief executives across the world said 59 percent of respondents agreed multinationals "should be required to publish revenue, profit and tax disclosures on a country-by-country basis".

Corporate tax avoidance has become a hot issue internationally and campaigners want companies to be obliged to publish country-by-country financial information because it could show whether companies are shifting profits out of major markets and manufacturing centres, into tax havens.

However, under fierce lobbying from some groups, governments have so far shied away from including country-by-country reporting in planned reforms of international tax rules being led by the G20 group of major economies.

PwC said the CEOs' approach to country-by-country reporting was "surprising" given concerns that such disclosure would be "costly for businesses to generate and is not easy for the reader to understand".

But the business services group said the results showed bosses were willing to be more transparent to address the negative perception of big companies' tax practices.

British lobby group the Confederation of British Industry said it still opposed the publication of country-by-country financial data. Leo Ringer, CBI Head of Financial & Fiscal Policy, said it could lead to misinterpretations.

Joe Stead, advisor on tax with charity Christian Aid, said the data showed governments could be "more ambitious" in measures to tackle avoidance.