Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

In Canada and around the world, corporations are dealing with changes in public attitudes toward taxation. Governments, news media, investors, customers and citizens are holding businesses and their boards accountable for the income taxes they pay. The issue is being debated in moral rather than legal terms – often ignoring the fundamental differences between illegal tax evasion and tax planning by legal means.

Nevertheless, corporations are being forced to consider how they respond to public demands for greater transparency. In recognition of the scale and scope of the problem, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released a 15-step action plan on July 19, 2013, to address base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The report was strongly endorsed by the Group of 20 and could bring about a major shift in international tax rules.

The need to address tax avoidance through BEPS is recognized and supported by multinationals in Canada. As the C-Suite survey reveals, 67 per cent of the executives reported that they somewhat or strongly support the BEPS action plan. In addition, more than one-third reported that they or their boards have taken steps to address the issue of whether their company is paying their fair share of tax.

Story continues below advertisement

As governments around the world remain under immense financial pressure and take action to combat tax avoidance, the expectation is that the trend toward increased transparency will continue. The oil and gas and mining sectors are already subject to tough new mandated public disclosure of payments to governments, and one of the key action points from the BEPS report is establishing a framework for automatic exchange of information between taxpayers and tax authorities. Any new international tax standards will require wide acceptance and must respect national sovereignty.

In Britain, the debate about tax morality escalated rapidly. It is crucial that companies and their boards brace themselves for increased scrutiny by tax authorities and in the court of public opinion. With reputations at stake, it is vital that senior business leaders take stock of their current position and its risks, develop a transparency strategy, follow the regulatory environment as it develops, and prepare to participate in the debate. Preparation is essential to deal with this new tax environment.

Iain MacIntosh is a tax partner and national industry leader of KPMG's tax transparency team. The 32nd quarterly C-Suite survey was conducted by Gandalf Group, sponsored by KPMG, and published by Report on Business and BNN.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies