Jeffery M. Kadet, Letter from Jeffery M. Kadet to Technical Director, Financial Accounting Standards Board (Feb. 7, 2020) on Income Taxes (Topic 740) Proposed Accounting Standards Update (Revised) (2020), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/584
There is a critical need to expand required disclosures for multinational groups (MNCs) under generally accepted accounting principles. In particular, to have any hope of assessing the potential for tax risk and management’s relative aggressiveness in managing its tax obligations to governments around the world, all stakeholders urgently need the information that country-bycountry reporting (CbCR) and the other suggestions made in this letter would provide. As is set out below, many MNCs carry material tax risks from their adoption over the past several decades of increasingly aggressive and sometimes questionable profit-shifting structures that seriously divorce legal form and reality.
This letter discusses:
- Background on profit-shifting structures (page 2),
- Need for CbCR – How CbCR would benefit stakeholders without creating undue compliance issues for MNCs (page 7),
- Need for guidance on location in connection with new paragraph 740-10-50-10A (disaggregation of income or loss from continuing operations between domestic and foreign) (page 11), and
- Disclosures Concerning Unrecognized Tax Benefits (page 15).
The primary message that this letter wishes to convey is that multinational corporations currently operate under a range of U.S. and foreign tax exposures, and CbCR information is critical for investors and other users of financial reports to assess:
- The potential for material tax assessments,
- Possible reputational and other commercial risks that could arise from aggressive tax structures, and
- Management’s relative conservatism or aggressiveness with respect to tax matters.
FASB should be a leader in developing appropriate accounting standards to increase corporate tax transparency in financial reports. If FASB does not take a leadership role, others including governments, international bodies, and private sector entities will design the global standards mandating increased corporate tax disclosures.