Posted in: reports

29th July 2019

Learning by Doing and Through Dialogue: Eight Lessons Distilled From Public Tax Reporting

Companies that endorse The B Team Responsible Tax Principles commit to the principle of tax transparency. To build trust, support understanding and enable a clearer public conversation about tax, corporate tax reporting is vital.

But across these companies and beyond, and even among those with the most advanced practices, there is no consensus on what meaningful tax reporting looks like.

While united in their commitment to transparency, each company has adopted a different approach, evolving their tax reporting over time. Through interviews and analysis of tax reporting by Responsible Tax Principles endorsers Allianz, Anglo American, BHP, Maersk, Prudential, Repsol, Rio Tinto, Shell, Unilever and Vodafone, we’ve identified eight key lessons from among the best out there. Public Tax Reporting: Learning by Doing and Through Dialogue reflects on some of these learnings and examines the areas that need further trial and error.

So, what did we find? Some companies choose to voluntarily publish significant amounts of tax data in relatively raw form. This has the benefit of showing that companies have ‘nothing to hide,’ but deciphering such data is not straightforward. Stakeholders with legitimate questions about a company’s tax practice may not easily find answers. Complex, raw data also risks misinterpretation.

Other companies have adopted a different approach, seeking to explain their tax practices through a combination of targeted data disclosure and narrative. Such reporting is accessible to a wider audience, but many tax advocacy groups argue that without full data disclosure they cannot gain a comprehensive understanding of a company’s tax practices.

All told, we identified eight key lessons that apply to most or many of these companies. Learn more in the report below.