Here is an opportunity to share your input on a new Economic GRI Standard that is making its way into the GRI Standards-Based Sustainability Reporting Framework…
Tax and Payments to Governments
If you are part of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Community, as we are, you will want to review and comment on the exposure draft of the new GRI topic-specific Standard: Tax and Payments to Governments, published for public comment by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the independent standard setting body of GRI.
This public comment form includes the draft of the new GRI topic-specific Standard: Tax and Payments to Governments, and a questionnaire seeking input on specific sections of the draft Standard. The draft resulted from the deliberations undertaken by a multi-stakeholder technical committee.
The project proposal for this work cites the following as its partial basis:
The EU has proposed new legislation that would require large companies based in and operating in the EU to publicly report on tax payments on a country-by-country basis. The proposal to amend the existing EU Directive 2013/34/EU was developed following a 2015 public consultation on corporate tax transparency requirements and is part of the Commission’s overarching ‘Action Plan for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation in the EU.’ However, according to experts working in the tax disclosure field, there is no indication at the moment that this proposal is likely to be approved by the EU in the near term.
Fair tax strategies contribute to sustainable development.
The aim of this work is to help promote greater transparency on a reporting organization’s approach to taxes, including its tax strategy, governance, and information on its actual taxes and payments to governments. Greater transparency can be one tool to help ensure public and stakeholder confidence that companies employ fair tax strategies and demonstrate their contributions to society in the regions where they operate. This issue is closely linked to the sustainable development agenda, since corporate tax payments can play an important role in helping governments to address issues such as poverty and wealth inequality.
Tax transparency promotes trust and credibility.
Tax transparency promotes trust and credibility in the taxation system and in the tax practices of organizations. It enables stakeholders to make informed judgments about whether an organization’s position on tax and payments to governments is acceptable and informs public debate. Equal access to quality information also creates a context for the development of desirable tax policy outcomes from the societal perspective.
The disclosures in this Standard are designed to help an organization better understand and communicate its strategy, governance, control, risk, and stakeholder engagement related to tax and payments to governments, as well as its income, tax, and business activities on a country-by-country basis. Country-by-country reporting involves the reporting of financial, economic, and tax-related data for each tax jurisdiction in which the organization operates. It can be used to identify the contribution an organization makes through tax and payments to governments in a jurisdiction and provide insight into an organization’s scale of activity in those jurisdictions.
The Standard’s key features include:
This Standard includes three management approach disclosures. All three are required, in addition to the generic management approach disclosure found in standard GRI 103:
Approach to tax and payments to governments
Tax governance, control, and risk management
Stakeholder engagement and management of concerns related to tax and payments
Two topic-specific disclosures have been developed, focused on:
The country-by-country reporting of financial, economic, and
Tax-related data for each tax jurisdiction in which the organization operates. The reporting organization is expected to report on both topic-specific disclosures.
This topic-specific Standard is contemplated for inclusion in the framework’s Economic series (200) since these standards address the flow of capital among different stakeholders, and on the main economic impacts of an organization throughout society.
Due to the strong linkages between tax and socio-economic development, existing Standards GRI 201, GRI 202, and GRI 203 will be reviewed during this process and may be updated in the future to reflect changes needed to integrate this new standard.
Be sure to weigh in on this important addition to the GRI Standards by March 15, 2019.