Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice
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Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice

Paying a Fair Share?

Edited by Richard Eccleston and Ainsley Elbra

Since the financial crisis the extent of corporate tax avoidance has attracted media headlines and the attention of political leaders the world over. This study examines the ‘new’ politics of corporate taxation and the role of civil society organisations in shaping the international tax agenda and influencing the tax practices of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. It highlights the complex and multi-dimensional strategies used by activists to influence public opinion, formal regulation and corporate behaviour in relation to international taxation.
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Chapter 12: Whistleblowing and investigative journalism: reputational damage and the private governance of aggressive tax planning

Lachlan Johnson

Abstract

This book has described the growing political and regulatory scrutiny to which the tax strategies of multinational corporations (MNCs) have been subject in recent years. Despite their growing importance, however, the theoretical or conceptual place of journalists, leakers and whistleblowers in the international anti-avoidance regime remains under-researched. This chapter addresses this gap by describing some of the ways in which whistleblowing and investigative journalism have drawn attention to, and helped to counter, aggressive tax planning strategies. Using survey data and accounting research on the regulatory impact of reputational damage, this chapter evaluates the potential impacts of three regulatory models that have proven effective in other policy arenas. The models discussed are drawn from the environmental protection and corporate governance literature. The chapter argues that, in the case of aggressive tax avoidance, whistleblowers and journalists exercise little effect independently of government, but rather prompt, enable or force further action through official channels.

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