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w10: Case 3 – Business ethics and MNCs: tax /2548

>> Download and complete the worksheet.

  • Read the articles below and answer the questions on the worksheet.

Primary Reading

for Q1–3
Dowling, GR (2014), The curious case of corporate tax avoidance: is it socially responsible?, Journal of Business Ethics, 124 pp173-184

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for Q4
Zucman, G (2019), Taxing multinational corporations in the 21st century, ECONfip, February

Discussion questions

  1. What does Dowling identify as the the inefficiencies and costs of tax avoidance?
  2. Outline the case made in the Dowling article against tax avoidance.
  3. Outline the case made in the Dowling article for tax avoidance.
  4. Outline Zucman’s proposal for reform of corporate taxation. To what extent do you think such a reform would address the issue of tax competition?

 Secondary reading

** Boerrild, T et al (2015), Getting to good – towards responsible corporate tax behaviour, Action Aid / Christian Aid / Oxfam discussion paper, Nov 17th

Bowers, S (2016), Corporation tax is on a downward trend, says OECD report, The Guardian, Sept 22nd

Contractor, FJ (2016), Tax Avoidance by Multinational Companies: Methods, Policies, and Ethics,
Rutgers Business Review, Vol. 1, No. 1

The Economist (2015a), New Rules, same old paradigm, The Economist, Oct 10th

The Economist (2015b), Still slipping the net, The Economist, Oct 10th

European Commission (2016), The Anti Tax Avoidance Directive, EC

Garside, J (2016), War of words hots up between US and EU over tax avoidance, The Guardian, Aug 25th

Godfrey, C (2014), Business among friends – why corporate tax dodgers are not yet losing sleep over global tax reform, Oxfam briefing paper 185, May Oxford: Oxfam International

Marriage, M (2017), Multinationals avoid up to £5.8bn in UK tax, HMRC finds, Financial Times, Oct 24th

OECD (2015), About Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

** Toplensky, R (2018), Multinationals pay lower taxes than a decade ago, Financial Times, Mar 11th


Bowers, S (2016a), Google’s tax deal with the UK: key questions answered, The Guardian, Jan 29th

Bowers, S (2016b), Facebook enjoys £11m UK tax credit despite £5bn global profit, The Guardian, Oct 10th

Bowers, S (2016c), Google pays €47m in tax in Ireland on €22bn sales revenue, The Guardian, Nov 4th

Bowers, S (2016d), McDonald’s to scrap Luxembourg tax structure, The Guardian, Dec 8th

BBC  (2013), Tax avoidance: The Hidden Cost, BBC Radio 4, April 23rd

Davies, H and Marks, S (2016), Revealed: how Project Goldcrest helped Amazon avoid huge sums in tax, The Guardian, Feb 18th

Giampaolo, D and Wood, G (2012), It’s not wrong to avoid tax, The Guardian, Dec 7th

Inman, P (2016), Google deal highlights need for ‘radical change’ to international tax rules, The Guardian, Jan 29th

** Mehafdi, M (2000), The Ethics of International Transfer Pricing, Journal of Business Ethics, December, v28, i4, pp 365-381

Neville, S and Treanor, J (2012), Starbucks to pay £20m in tax over next two years after customer revolt, The Guardian, Dec 6th

Picciotto, S (2012), Towards unitary taxation of transnational corporations, Tax Justice Network, Dec 9th

Public Accounts Committee (2012), Tax avoidance by multinational companies,, Dec 3rd

Rawlinson, S (2016), Google agrees to pay British authorities £130m in back taxes, The Guardian, Jan 23rd

Sikka, P (2017), Combating corporate tax avoidance by requiring large companies to file their tax, Journal of Capital Markets Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1 pp9-20

Stewart, H (2012), Demands for global tax reform intensify as Starbucks ‘volunteers’ to pay £20m, The Observer, Dec 9th

Reflective commentary question

To what extent are individual governments at fault for MNCs’ conduct in relation to tax avoidance?