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Transparency in financial reporting: Is country-by-country reporting suitable to combat international profit shifting?

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  • Evers, Maria Theresia
  • Meier, Ina
  • Spengel, Christoph

Abstract

Aggressive tax planning efforts of highly profitable multinational companies (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)) have recently become the subject of intense public debate. As a response, several international initiatives and parties have called for more transparency in financial reporting, especially by means of a country-specific reporting of certain tax information (Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR)). In our paper, we demonstrate that neither consolidated nor individual financial accounts seem to be an appropriate platform to provide such country-specific information and, therefore, that CbCR cannot be based on extended financial accounting standards. Moreover, we argue that even separate CbCR templates do not prevent multinationals from profit shifting, since their common tax minimization strategies are mainly based on the legal exploitation of gaps and loopholes in national and international tax law. In that regard, we show that expected costs for CbCR would exceed expected benefits and therefore contend that CbCR cannot be regarded as a convincing measure to combat international profit shifting. Instead, we argue that tax legislators should limit profit shifting by enforcing national and international tax rules and by closing gaps in tax law. In particular, we call for more tightened and standardized transfer pricing regulations to be adopted at an international level.

Suggested Citation

  • Evers, Maria Theresia & Meier, Ina & Spengel, Christoph, 2014. "Transparency in financial reporting: Is country-by-country reporting suitable to combat international profit shifting?," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-015, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:14015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Evers, Maria Theresia & Finke, Katharina & Matenaer, Sebastian & Meier, Ina & Zinn, Benedikt, 2014. "Evidence on book-tax differences and disclosure quality based on the notes to the financial statements," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-047, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Dutt, Verena & Spengel, Christoph & Vay, Heiko, 2021. "Der EU-Vorschlag zum Country-by-Country Reporting im Internet: Kosten, Nutzen, Konsequenzen," Studien, Stiftung Familienunternehmen / Foundation for Family Businesses, number 250010, April.
    3. Wolfgang Schön & Dennis Klein & Markus Kerber & Martin Ruf & Tanja Kroh & Katharina Finke & Christoph Spengel & Andreas Oestreicher, 2015. "EU-Aktionsplan zur Unternehmensbesteuerung: Ein Weg zu größerer Fairness und Effizienz in der Steuerpolitik?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(15), pages 03-21, August.
    4. Dutt, Verena & Spengel, Christoph & Vay, Heiko, 2017. "Der EU-Vorschlag zum Country-by-Country Reporting im Internet: Kosten, Nutzen, Konsequenzen," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, number 172786, March.
    5. Dutt, Verena K. & Spengel, Christoph & Vay, Heiko, 2021. "The EU proposal for country-by-country reporting on the internet: Costs, Benefits and Consequences," Studien, Stiftung Familienunternehmen / Foundation for Family Businesses, number 250025, April.
    6. Spengel, Christoph & Heinemann, Friedrich & Olbert, Marcel & Pfeiffer, Olena & Schwab, Thomas & Stutzenberger, Kathrin, 2018. "Analysis of US corporate tax reform proposals and their effects for Europe and Germany. Final report: Update 2018," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, number 181905, March.
    7. Anita Atanassova, 2019. "Financial Accounting Aspects of Transfer Pricing," Economics and computer science, Publishing house "Knowledge and business" Varna, issue 2, pages 20-38.
    8. Evers, Maria Theresia, 2015. "Evidence on Book-tax Differences and Disclosure Quality Based on the Notes to the Financial Statements," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113127, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Evers, Maria Theresia & Meier, Ina & Spengel, Christoph, 2017. "Country-by-country reporting: Tension between transparency and tax planning," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-008, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; profit shifting; multinational firms; tax reform; tax reporting; country-by-country reporting; international transfer pricing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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