Thursday, October 9, 2014

Will media scrutiny for tax dodging ultimately create director liability to shareholders?

It's been a busy couple of weeks in Europe for some of America's biggest multinationals.

Google’s tax setup challenged by France

European commission to probe Amazon’s tax status in Luxembourg

Europeans Accuse Ireland of Giving Apple Illegal Tax Break

I'm working on an article in which I argue that the scrutiny over tax avoidance is creating material financial risk for multinationals, such that existing national securities disclosure laws will ultimately require increased disclosure to shareholders about public companies' tax planning strategies and their associated risks. To date, share prices have not seemed to reflect any market worry about the anti-tax avoidance activity governments have proclaimed so far. But if these stories about probes turn into stories about assessed fines and other clawbacks (as opposed to Starbucks'-style faux-repentance gifts), my level of confidence in my prediction will vastly increase.

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