Join the hearing on extended country-by-country reporting this summer

Finance MinisterSiv Jensen. Foto: Rune Kongsro, Finansdepartementet

 

There are mechanisms against the Panama leak. The Ministry of Finance is scheduling the most important hearing which can give transparency into companies for "summer."

Urgent

Rasmus Hansson from MDG (Environmental Green Party) is tired of The Ministry of Finance wasting time.

Hansson refers to the Conservative Party's of Norway (Høyre) national congress where recently a statement was made concerning "a strengthened fight against tax evasion" while at the same time the Government has been slow to introduce the most important step towards stopping potential tax evasion.

In a written inquiry to the Finance Minister on April 21 Hansson referred to the Panama leak and wrote that it is urgent that the demands for extended country-by-country reporting (ECBCR) be implemented, and that the Government must accommodate an extended country-by-country reporting posthaste.

Hansson asks: Will the Finance Minister promote a hearing note concerning country-by-country reporting under the accounting law §3-3d during Parliament´s spring session?

Read: written question adn reasoning (dokument nr. 15:955 (2016-2016) (In Norwegian)

 

The Finance Minister is "currently considering changes"

The Ministry of Finance writes "the Ministry is also considering changes in the CBCR regulations in keeping with Parliament´s request, with the goal of sending the hearing note to hearing during the summer of 2016." (Translated by PWYP Norway)

The Ministry of Finance also writes that they are "currently working to initiate the coming evaluation of the CBCR regulations, so that this can be completed at the latest in the spring of 2017." (Translated by PWYP Norway)

 

All measures have not been taken

The Ministry of Finance has yet to follow up Parliament´s request agreement in June 2015 (nr. 792 (2014-2015)). The Ministry of Finance has sent out other hearings and there have been several statements and misunderstandings tied to two completely different tracks for transparency.  

There has been confusion concerning two different initiatives for dissimilar ends which have almost the same names: "Country-by-country reporting" and "country-by-country reporting for tax purposes."

Read and understand the important differences between BEPS, CBCR, and ECBCR: "Parliament asked for ECBC-reporting. The Ministry of Finance offered BEPS."

 

CBCR is not CBCR

"Country-by-country reporting" (CBCR) is the law which can be strengthened to become "extended country-by-country reporting" (ECBCR).  Then the amendment can become effective against potential tax evasion. What remains is that only accounting figures should be reported and nothing else. In addition all expenses must be reported because it is easy for companies to manipulate the expenses. Finally, notes have to be declared in the annual accounts, so that it can be matched accurately with other company information, and is published for all countries, including tax havens.

"Country-by-country reporting for tax purposes" (BEPS) is something different. It is OECD´s suggestion that a diminished type of information with poor data basis, should be reported only to tax authorities. That information could be based on any type of data basis in the company, there are wide gaps for interpreting which parts companies wish to report, there is no transparency concerning expenses, and information is closed except to tax authorities. Accordingly, OECD has received much criticism from civil society in using this designation in this proposal.

The Government has unfortunately contributed to the confusion. They have referred to CBCR and given the impression that the initiative has already been implemented. It has not.

The hearing on CBCR for tax purposes (that is to say BEPS) does not follow up Parliament´s request agreement to strengthen CBCR (along with ECBCR). The Ministry of Finance has yet to follow up the Parliament request tied to the accounting law §3-3d and the Securities Trading Act §5-5a which could strengthen the country-by-country amendment, regardless of the BEPS hearing.

Read: ”Siv Jensen's evasions”.

In the article "This year it will become more difficult to hide money in tax havens" (translated by PWYP Norway) (you can read the article in Norwegian here: I år blir det vanskeligere å skjule penger i skatteparadis) a State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance gave a statement to the newpaper concerning "country-by-country regulations" and the hearing deadline which expired in January 2016, but this is about "country-by-country reporting for tax purposes."

 

Can making BEPS publicly available threaten ECBCR?

Siv Jensen further writes in her response the following with regards to the BEPS process "influencing" the CBCR process:

"In closing, I want to reference that the EU commision on April 12, 2016 submitted a proposal concerning public country-by-country reporting for tax information purposes. If this is adopted by EU, it will become relevant for Norway to join this legislation. That is why this proposal can have consequences for Norwegian legislation concerning country-by-country reporting according to the accounting law." (Translated by PWYP Norway)

This means that the EU commission is under pressure to publish the information on BEPS. But it is important to note that BEPS continues to have the same weaknesses. It is too little too late, where any data base can be used and where the possiblities for evasion are many.

The companies will likely prefer to report on "country-by-country reporting for tax purposes", that is OECD´s BEPS proposal.

Read PWYP Norway's consultative statement about BEPS: ”Consultative statement about country-by-country reporting for tax purposes" (In Norwegian)

 

Warning:  Lobby danger

The politicians must be on the alert if the companies start using the retoric that they "only want one CBCR", and refer to "country-by-country reporting for tax purposes", that is OECD´s BEPS proposal. The politicians should not be pressured into "pulling back" extended country-by-country reporting" just because they publish BEPS information.

 

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs is tired of waiting

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has also sent a letter to the Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs with a note to follow up the request resolution which was published June 19. 2015.

Read the letter (in Norwegian) here. The remark is on page 4:PDF iconInnst. 246 S (2015–2016). Meld. St. 15 (2015–2016).pdf

 

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs´ leader, Hans Olav Syversen, makes this statement in the newspaper Vårt Land:

"-We, as a committee, have written a report for the follow-up of the request agreement. It expresses our impatience in a letter to The Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs. We ask that the Government be informed of this, and that they prioritize this. It is not common for the Committee to do this.” (Translated by PWYP Norway)

Read: ”The Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs is now pulled into the CBCR process​