Tax avoidance as “tax planning”: global accounting firms on the make

About 21 trillion dollars hoarded by wealthy elites in secretive offshore jurisdictions to avoid taxes in their home countries. The offshore hoard is protected by a highly-paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting, and investment industries.
This very interesting  study “The Tax Avoidance Industry: Accountancy Firms on the Make.” (open access) examines the involvement of global accountancy firms in devising and selling tax avoidance schemes euphemistically marketed as normalised “tax planning”. It demonstrate how “tax planning” involves “wilful blindness” to complicity in dubious and sometimes fraudulent and corrupted activity. Prem Sikka & Hugh Willmott reveal in detail the construction and promotion of elaborate tax avoidance schemes by big accounting firms (Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG) that reduce the “tax take” on business and corporations, and thereby reduces the state revenues required to provide and maintain public services.
The researchers cast doubt upon the “business culture” that has become established in these firms and question the appropriateness and adequacy of private regulation of these firms. This paper also contributes to a crucial public debate on the legal tax manipulations of powerful and privileged parties, which in turn increase economic inequality and undermine the foundations of functioning democracy.

Sikka, Prem and Hugh Willmott. 2013. “The Tax Avoidance Industry: Accountancy Firms on the Make.” Critical Perspectives on International Business 9 (4): 415 -443.

One comment

  1. When we take a place like Luxembourg as a case study it begs the question, what happens to the old manufacturing jobs? I am not a manufacturing fetishist but it is obvious that with the disappearance of those jobs Luxembourg went all in on financial services and in retrospect, with the power of fictitious capital at a greater zenith than at any other time, what are the (ostensibly) educated supposed to do? Using Guy Standing’s terminology (from The Precariat), they became the the salariat and proficians doing the tax planning for the global elite and enabling tax avoidance for a few for whom national borders and nationality have no meaning.

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