"Aggressive" Tech Tax Avoidance Bordering on Illegal, says OECD

By Gary Cutlack on at

Pascal Saint-Amans, the current head of the OECD's taxation division, is pushing for more to be done to stop the international tech firms avoiding tax by shuffling their money around the globe, suggesting that some of the practises they use are "pushing the boundaries of what is legal."

That, of course, is not a problem. Skirting the law isn't breaking the law, no matter how shady training money to jump through loophole after loophole to avoid paying more than 50p a year in tax may appear to customers sobbing over their own, unavoidable, HMRC demands.

But Saint-Amans wants more to be done to stop the offshore shenanigans that sees some of the wealthiest businesses paying the lowest rates of tax, with new standards that force companies to pay tax in the countries the revenue is taken -- rather than shuffling it all off to Ireland or Luxembourg by the miracle of clever accountancy -- on the drawing board.

Saint-Amans says there should be an international agreement on how to manage and alter international tax laws ready by November, when the G20 summit could endear itself to the public by announcing moves to take more money from the rule-bending corporate behemoths.

Critically, the tech firms may be required to publish what they earn on a country-by-country basis, meaning we could see full, legitimate, believable numbers breaking down exactly how much money, say, Apple and Facebook earn in the UK, rather than only seeing what the accountants say is the minimum legally allowable to declare.

Saint-Amans says the OECD would like the refreshed laws in place by 2020. [BBC]

Image credit: HMRC from Shutterstock