The tax practices of multinationals are in the eye of the storm. The public outcry reflects deep concerns about the moral integrity of the tax system. Taxes make society and freedom possible, and paying taxes is about sharing the financial burden involved in societal cooperation. The distribution of the tax burden is an expression of the values of distributive justice and solidarity. Tax laws translate the moral obligation to contribute to society into a set of legal obligations.
Good tax governance should be ethical tax governance. Ethical and reputational tax risks should be carefully managed. Codes of conduct are important instruments to enhance moral corporate behaviour. They generate transparency, thereby enabling stakeholders to evaluate the ethical quality of a corporation’s strategy.
Tax codes of conduct are aimed at providing guiding principles to businesses and tax administrations to increase trust in the tax system on the part of society. The element of trust comprises not only the fact that both parties remain within the boundaries of the law, but also that everyone plays fairly and acts in an ethically compliant manner. Thus, tax codes of conduct are a good starting point to operationalize a company’s commitment to ethical tax governance.Intertax