Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conference on Tax and Corporate Responsibility - An Emerging Agenda

Our colleagues at IBIS are organising a conference on Tax and Corporate Responsibility in Copenhagen.  Here are some key details about the conference, which is free, and below is some background to the conference with the programme.
Date: June 21, 09:00-17:00
Venue: Danish Business authority, Dahlerups Pakhus, Langelinie Alle 17, Copenhagen, Denmark
Registration and information: Oliver Graner: Mail:, T: +45 35 200 536
Background documents are here.

Tax is no longer only an issue for accountants, financial departments and revenue authorities. Fuelled by the financial crisis and cuts in public spending it has emerged as a frequent topic of discussion in the public domain. NGOs are arguing that corporate tax has the potential to be a pivotal income gen- erator for many developing countries and could help finance development and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. For the past few years there has been an increased focus from the media, tax authorities and NGOs on multinational companies’ tax profile.
Tax has emerged as a crucial reputational risk for companies, particularly what they actually pay in different countries, but also what their policies are in this field. The discussions have been supported by a number of reports documenting low tax rates paid by multinational enterprises, both in developed and developing countries. This conference will explore how tax can be understood in light of the CSR agenda, what the prin- ciples for responsible tax governance could be and how companies can implement them.
The purpose of this conference is to present and discuss a set of principles for responsible tax governance that can help companies, public servants and NGOs gain a better understanding of the complexities involved when discussing multinational enterprises’ tax payments in relation to CSR and political regulation.

Tax as a CSR-issue
In October 2011 the European Commission issued a new definition of CSR as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society”. With this definition there has been a shift away from previous understandings of CSR as the voluntary actions companies can take. If CSR is about companies’ impact on society tax is inevi- tably a CSR issue. To a large extent companies can set their own tax levels through tax planning and thereby determine where they will have which impact. This creates a link between companies’ tax policy and CSR policy, and the question then becomes how a socially responsible enterprise approaches the issue of tax?

Principles for good tax governance
At the conference we offer for discussion a new set of principles for responsible tax governance. The princi- ples are meant as a guide for companies on how to navigate in this complex area with many different interests at stake.

Political regulation and tax as part of EU’s CSR-strategy
Recently there has been a lot of attention on how international transparency on companies’ tax payments can be politically regulated. Simultaneously new CSR strategies are discussed and adopted at European and national levels. We will discuss if and how tax will be included into European CSR strategies and regulation.

Implementing principles for responsible tax behaviour
Agreeing on what constitutes responsible tax behaviour does not take us all the way. The real challenge is moving from principles to practice. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights offer an op- erational framework for how companies can ensure their respect for human rights. Can this framework also be used to facilitate the implementation of principles on responsible tax behaviour, and how do companies currently go about the implementation of a responsible tax policy?

Conference Programme
Moderator: Thomas Ravn-Pedersen, Journalist and Coordinator for Worlds Best News information campaign.

8:30 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 – 9:30    Opening
        Ole Sohn, Danish Minister for Business and Growth
               Vagn Berthelsen, Secretary General, IBIS

Minister for Business and Growth Ole Sohn will provide a perspective on tax as an emerging issue on the CSR agenda, building on the Danish discussions and in the European perspective. Vagn Berthelsen, Secretary General of IBIS, will introduce tax as a potential key instrument for financing development in developing countries and why tax has emerged as a CSR issue.

9:30 – 10:50 Setting the agenda - Tax as a CSR issue
             Martin Hearson, Tax justice campaign manager, Action Aid UK
                    Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, CEO & Senior Partner, GLOBAL CSR
                    Mohammed Amin Adam, IBIS Ghana

Martin Hearson will discuss why tax is a key CSR issue and present examples of how developing countries loose huge amount of tax revenue, and Sune Skadegaard Thorsen will explain how tax can be understood as part of the CSR agenda and companies’ work with economic sustainability. Mohammed Amin Adam will speak about the importance of companies in the oil and mining industry paying a fair tax in resource rich countries like Ghana and why the revenue from taxes is all important for developing countries
10:50 – 11:10 Coffee/Tea
11:10 – 12:40 Principles for Corporate Responsibility on Tax
        Katharine Teague, Senior private sector adviser, Christian Aid
        Stephen Hine, Head of Responsible Investment Development, EIRIS Company representative
        Richard Hardyment, Senior Consultant, Corporate Citizenship
        Simon Williams, Advisory Policy Committee, FTSE 4 Good
Katharine Teague will present the principles of corporate responsibility on tax that IBIS and Christian Aid have developed. After her pres- entation there will be a panel debate about the principles with contributions from an investor, a company and a CSR consultant.

12:40 – 13:40 Lunch

13:40 – 14:55 The role of political regulation in the area of CSR and tax
                       NN, Representative from the European Commission (TBC)
         NN, Representative from the Danish Council on Corporate Social Responsibility (TBC)
         Martin Hearson, Action Aid UK
Should EU implement a stronger regulation in the area of CSR to prevent tax planning by companies and what about national regulation in this area? Can the new principles on tax be used in the design of new CSR strategies at national and European levels? This is some of the questions that will be addressed in this panel debate on the role of political regulation regarding CSR and tax.

14:55 – 15:15 Coffee/Tea

15:15 – 16:45 How to work responsibly with tax?
        Finn L. Meyer, KPMG
        Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, GLOBAL CSR Company representative
        Richard Murphy, Tax Expert, Tax Justice Network
Representatives from a company, a NGO, an accountancy firm and a CSR consultancy firm will discuss how the new principles for corpo- rate responsibility on tax can help companies navigate in the difficult area of tax and CSR, and how the principles can be operationalised by companies.

16:45 – 17:00 Closing remarks Vagn Berthelsen, General Secretary, IBIS

Why attend?
This conference will give you a unique opportunity to learn about an interesting issue that will be at the forefront of the CSR agenda for years to come. You will get to hear from a wide variety of stake- holders as well as some of the top experts on the area, and you will get a chance to voice your opinions and participate in the debate.
If you want to know more about the conference call Oliver Graner Saebye at +45 35200266 or send an email to
Conference material will be sent out prior to the conference.
Registration is free.  To register for the conference send an email to Oliver Graner Saebye at with your name and contact information.


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