Backing for GRI’s Tax Standard
05 December 2019

Global stakeholders endorse the GRI Tax Standard
​On 5 December, GRI published the Tax Standard (GRI 207: Tax 2019) – the first global standard for public reporting of tax at the country-by-country level.

Many stakeholders from around the world have so far signaled their endorsement of the GRI Tax Standard, which are listed below.

INVESTORS

Fiona Reynolds, CEO of PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), the global investor network over 2,600 signatories who collectively manage in excess of U$89 trillion. She said:

“Tax avoidance is a leading driver of inequality and as such a responsible approach to tax by business is essential. The PRI has been leading efforts to drive more meaningful corporate disclosure. GRI’s new Tax Standard marks an evolution in tax transparency and provides a much-needed and ambitious framework for corporate tax reporting.”

Ashley Hamilton-Claxton, Head of Responsible Investment, Royal London Asset Management, said:

“We recognize that tax legislation around the world is ill-equipped to deal with an increasingly globalized business environment. We therefore welcome the publication of the GRI Corporate Tax Standard, which will help improve disclosure and provide investors with better information to compare companies’ approaches to tax on a country-by-country basis.”

Andy Jones, Engagement Professional for Hermes EOS, said:

“We welcome clear and comparable transparency as a driver of responsible tax practices and appropriate oversight. Transparency also provides insight into risk embedded in the tax strategy and supports accountability on tax payments, in line with both the intention of tax law and the location of economic value generated.

We welcome the new GRI Tax Standard as a valuable enabler of such transparency and will advocate for the Standard with sectors and companies where the issue is most material.”

Robert M. Wilson Jr., Research Analyst and Investment Officer with MFS Investment Management, said:

“Corporate tax practices are highly relevant for investors. An understanding of a company’s tax practices can help an investor to better understand earnings risk and opportunity. At the same time, a firm's approach to taxation also provides important signals regarding its governance, by putting a spotlight on a management team's and a board's risk tolerance.

As a result, I was pleased to be a part of developing this standard, which will improve tax transparency. The high engagement in the public comment period for GRI’s Tax Standard from investment companies, which accounted for over 40% of submissions received, was notable and reinforces the notion that corporate taxation is most certainly a financially material topic.”

Angélique Laskewitz, Executive Director of VBDO (Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development), said:

“The publication of the GRI Tax Standard will provide information to investors for their investment decision making and engagement efforts on taxes paid by companies to governments, which is imperative to structurally contribute to sustainable development.”

Sacha Sadan, Director of Corporate Governance at Legal & General Investment Management, said:

“Increased tax transparency, as advocated by this Standard, can help long-term investors better assess reputational and regulatory risk for companies, and can drive further investor engagement in this area.”


MEDIATING INSTITUTIONS

Olivier Boutellis-Taft, Chief Executive of Accountancy Europe, said:
 
“GRI’s new tax disclosure standard is a vital contribution to address stakeholders’ demand for corporate tax transparency. Accountancy Europe stands for transparency and trust: we therefore commend GRI for pioneering reporting in this sensitive area with great balance and for providing a global, meaningful and practical format for companies that choose to explain how they handle their tax affairs.

We look forward to continue working with GRI on tax and other crucial sustainability matters.”


LABOR ORGANIZATIONS

Daniel Bertossa, Assistant General Secretary of Public Services International, the global trade union federation, said:

“Tax avoidance comes with high human costs as it undermines governments’ ability to provide quality public services and promote economic development. We cannot tackle pressing global issues like poverty reduction, climate change and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals without a fair and adequate tax system.

There is growing anger around the world at governments’ inability to deal with the issues people care about, which is eroding trust in public institutions. The GRI Tax Standard is absolutely necessary to hold multinational corporations to account and ensure governments can develop the fair tax policies needed to fund services and restore public confidence.”


CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor at Oxfam, said:

“Corporate tax avoidance is a solvable problem with fairer rules, more coordination and better transparency. The new GRI reporting standard provides a groundbreaking tool to better understand how, when and where multinational companies pay their taxes—with immense utility to policy-makers, journalists, civil society, analysts and investors. This new standard also provides a straight-forward, practical way for companies to adopt more responsible tax reporting practices. Everyone - no matter their power in society – should pay their fair share.”

Alex Cobham, Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network, said:

“Every year, the global economy we all live and work in loses an estimated $500 billion to multinational corporations not paying the tax they owe – that’s $500 billion less each year to fund public services and invest in our communities.

This injustice and the global inequality it fuels has in part been made possible by the lack of reliable and comparable, country-by-country information on the taxes that multinational corporations contribute. That is why we need to reprogram our approach to tax, starting with the crucial transparency that adoption of GRI’s new Tax Standard can help achieve.”

Gary Kalman, Executive Director of the FACT Coalition (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition, said:

“GRI’s Tax Standard is the clearest and most significant recognition to date of the global trend toward tax transparency for multinational companies. The standard is both necessary and balanced. We urge companies to quickly implement this standard and help make it the model for the transparency that will soon become common global practice.

“The multi-stakeholder process that produced this standard ensures that the information is helpful to investors while workable for companies. As a result, GRI has done something that is somewhat rare: they have produced a standard that is both relatively straight forward and enormously impactful.”

Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research UK (and Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, City University of London), said:

“Country-by-country reporting, as supported by the GRI Tax Standard, is essential if we are to achieve the step change required in the tax practices of multinational corporations. Ultimately this is about holding them accountable by disclosing both where they make their profits and where they pay their taxes. This is vital information needed to incentivize improved corporate governance and support a fairer distribution globally of tax income.”


OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

Michael Frerichs, State Treasurer of Illinois, said:

“I strongly support the effort to bring more transparency and standardization to the presentation of tax information. When investors are able to easily access, comprehend, and compare a company’s tax strategy, investors are better-equipped to assess risks and make informed investment decisions.”

Paul Tang MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, said:

"Transparency is key to arrive at fair taxation across the world, since opaqueness characterizes the practice of tax avoidance. GRI's new tax disclosure Standard is therefore most welcome.

For corporates, this first public, global reporting Standard for tax provides an excellent opportunity to show that they care and take responsibility for the societies in which they operate around the world. I have no doubt that this independent and voluntary global Standard will be a great success and provides an example for forthcoming legislation.”