Global efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance are set to get new momentum on Thursday, when nations meet in Kyoto to discuss and possibly sign up to international rules introduced last year.
The two-day meeting by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs will take place amid new scrutiny of tax havens following the so-called Panama Papers scandal.
The gathering is expected to see more countries joining the 46 nations that have imposed tougher rules on corporate tax avoidance by multinationals.
The committee will also discuss ways to identify governments that are not helping transparency efforts prior to the launch of a tax information exchange initiative next year. That initiative will involve around 100 nations.
The move comes after the Group of 20 economies instructed the OECD to establish objective criteria by July to specify such jurisdictions. The G-20 made the appeal after a meeting in April.
In order to make the initiative more effective, the committee will consider blacklisting noncompliant countries as early as next year, with an eye to imposing punitive measures.
Masatsugu Asakawa, vice minister for international affairs at the Japanese Finance Ministry, who will chair the gathering, said the criteria are expected to include signing a multilateral treaty and pledging prompt adherence to the rules.
“The process is aimed at pressuring uncooperative countries” aimed at ensuring more participation in the new initiative, Asakawa said.
The effort to tackle the issue has gathered steam following the Panama Papers revelations, in which files leaked from a Panama-based law firm specializing in setting up shell companies implicated a number of politicians and business leaders in tax avoidance.
“Companies have increasingly become subject to public scrutiny after some of them were supported by public money following the collapse of Lehman Brothers,” said Hidenori Suezawa, a financial market and fiscal analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. The 2008 failure of the U.S. investment bank triggered a global financial crisis.
“Around the world, the gap between rich and poor is becoming a big issue,” Suezawa said. “Firms engaging in such practices could damage their corporate image and face falling share prices.”
In a bid to get wider participation in the new tax rules, the committee will invite non-OECD and non-G-20 countries to take part.
Under the new rules, companies will be asked to pay appropriate taxes in places where they make profits, even if they transfer profits to a subsidiary in a country with lower tax rates.
With the new rules, the countries also aim to eliminate double taxation on multinational companies.
Nations that wish to join the initiative need to adopt measures at the minimum standard level, such as sharing financial information of multinational enterprises.
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