نقش شرکت های چند ملیتی در فرار مالیاتی و اجتناب از مالیات : در مورد نیجریه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|278||2011||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 22, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 316–332
Tax evasion and tax avoidance reduce government revenues. This has a significant detrimental effect on the provision of infrastructures, public services and public utilities. Multinational companies (MNCs) in the oil, gas, and manufacturing sectors have used various tax schemes, ranging from off-shore intermediary companies to claiming recharges, royalties or technical fees and under-reporting of profit, to avoid paying tax in Nigeria. This paper locates the role of MNC tax practice within the broader dynamics of globalisation and the pursuit of profits, to argue that the drive of MNCs for higher profits can enrich our understanding of why some MNCs engage in tax evasion and avoidance at almost any cost. Stimulated by profitability, and intense competition and pressure to increase earnings, capitalist enterprises constantly seek new ways of boosting their earnings by developing complex structures and novel ways of increasing their profits by exploiting ambiguities in the law. The evidence shows that tax havens and offshore financial centres, shaped by globalisation, are major structures facilitating the anti-social tax practices of MNCs. The findings also suggest that the local business elite and local professionals are key actors in facilitating these anti-social tax practices in Nigeria for their own financial gain. These MNC practices also shift the tax burden to less mobile capital and less well-off citizens, and thereby undermine the Nigerian social fabric. This paper therefore argues that tax reforms are needed to reduce the problems created by MNCs and their affiliates operating in Nigeria.
Tax evasion is an unlawful practice which has the effect of reducing the government revenues needed for the provision of infrastructures, and for public services and public utilities. Tax avoidance, while not regarded by some as being unlawful, has the same effect. Both practices are motivated by different factors and involve a wide range of different mechanisms (Mo, 2003). They are a major feature of national and international fiscal policy and of the global capitalist economy. Scholars have considered tax evasion and tax avoidance from many perspectives, such as the legal, ethical and economic (Abudlrazaq, 1992, Alm et al., 1992, Cowell, 1990, Fashokun, 1976, Flesch, 1968, Killian and Kolitz, 2004, Ola, 2001 and Wheatcroft, 1955). These tax practices are not the prerogative of developed economies, but are also encountered in developing countries; and huge sums of money are lost to government coffers by such practices (Cobham, 2005 and Christian Aid, 20051; Oxfam, 2004). Unlike tax evasion, tax avoidance is considered by some scholars to be a lawful activity (Brown, 1983, Flesch, 1968 and Sommers, 1998), but others disagree (Cowell, 1990, McBarnet, 1991 and Potas, 1993). Also, as a thin line can separate the two practices, what constitutes lawful or morally acceptable behaviour may be problematic (McBarnet, 1991 and Slemrod, 2007). However, despite disagreement about whether tax avoidance is an unlawful activity, both practices have negative consequences and effects (Cobham, 2005 and Kirchler et al., 2003) and have, in the words of He and Li (1996), ‘similar impacts on fiscal revenues’ (p. 38). Companies and wealthy individuals use a range of tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes, tax havens, shell companies and inter-group structures to avoid and evade taxes in order to boost profits and capital (Bakre, 2007, Palan et al., 2010, Sikka and Hampton, 2005, Sikka, 2003, Sikka, 2007, Sikka, 2008a, Tax Justice Network, 2007, US General Accountability Office, 2004, US General Accountability Office, 2005 and US Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2006). These schemes result in a loss of tax revenues which undermines government legitimacy and prevents economic and social development (Cobham, 2005, Richardson, 2006 and Sikka, 2008a). However, corporations regard tax avoidance schemes as justifiable and legitimate cost reduction programmes and not as practices which undermine social solidarity and the development of a just and fair society (Sikka, 2008a). In the last few years or so, the effects of such tax schemes on the world's poor have been considered by various bodies, including charities such as Oxfam and Christian Aid and Tax Justice Network (Christian Aid, 2005, Christian Aid, 2006, Christian Aid, 2008, Oxfam, 2000, Oxfam, 2004, Tax Justice Network, 2005, Tax Justice Network, 2006 and Tax Justice Network, 2007); and there have been calls for reform to prohibit MNCs and the wealthy from using such schemes (Christian Aid, 2008, Murphy, 2003, Murphy, 2007 and Palan et al., 2010). While accountants and tax professionals are not expected to condone tax evasion by their clients (Sikka, 2008a) and are expected to promote transparency and accountability and devise techniques for detecting tax fraud, it has been shown that some professionals do, in fact, use their expertise to facilitate both tax avoidance and tax evasion practices (Bakre, 2007, Ezeoha and Ogamba, 2010, Sikka and Willmott, 2010, Sikka, 2003, Sikka, 2008a and US Senate Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2005). Accounting technologies, such as transfer pricing and the use of intangible assets, also make it easier for MNCs to hide and shift capital (see Baker, 2005, Otusanya, 2010a, Otusanya, 2010b, Pak, 2006, Sikka and Willmott, 2010 and Sikka, 2007). Thus some professionals use accounting technologies and structures to make financial gains for their clients and themselves to the detriment of the public interest which they claim to be protecting (Bakre, 2007, Mitchell et al., 1998, Mitchell et al., 2001, Sikka, 2008a and US Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2006). It has been shown that tax revenues cannot be evaded or avoided without the involvement of accountants, lawyers and bankers (Ezeoha and Ogamba, 2010, Sikka, 2008a, US Senate Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2005, US Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2003 and US Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2008). Offshore tax havens,2 which provide secrecy and low regulation, are key vehicles for the movement of ‘hot’ money3 (Christian Aid, 2005, Killian, 2006, Palan, 2002, Palan, 2003 and Tax Justice Network, 2006). A number of studies have attempted to quantify the amount of revenue lost as a result of tax-saving schemes and structures (Baker, 2005, Christian Aid, 2005, Cobham, 2005, Oxfam, 2004, Senator Carl Lenin Report, 2007, Sikka and Hampton, 2005, Sikka, 2008a, Tax Justice Network, 2007 and US Sub-Committee on Investigations, 2008). This study considers some of the practices which undermine and reduce tax revenues in developing countries, with the particular focus being on tax evasion and tax fraud by MNCs in Nigeria. The loss of tax revenues in Nigeria due to tax evasion and tax avoidance has had a significant impact on the Nigerian government's investment in social infrastructures and social welfare programmes and has increased poverty. This paper aims to add to the discourse on tax evasion and tax avoidance by considering the various schemes adopted by MNCs in advancing their capital accumulation in developing countries, such as in Nigeria in particular, despite their professed claims in their own host countries to be socially responsible corporate entities. The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 examines the literature on the blurred line between tax evasion and tax avoidance, and explores the activities of MNCs aided by tax havens and offshore financial centres in tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes in both developed and developing countries. Section 3 considers the role of globalisation in these practices. Section 4 provides case examples to show how MNCs in Nigeria have exploited the ambiguities between tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax fraud in their pursuit of profit. Section 4 also considers the role professionals play as facilitators of anti-social tax practices. Section 5 provides a summary and discussion.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has sought to contribute to emerging discourses by focusing on the role of multinational corporations (MNCs) in tax evasion and tax avoidance in developing countries. As argued in the literature, tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes are central to the illegal transfer of taxable income and corporate profits from developing countries to Western countries through MNCs, their subsidiaries and affiliates. Although research has dealt extensively with the implication of MNCs in both developed and developing countries and the use of offshore tax havens (see Bakre, 2007, Sikka and Haslam, 2006, Sikka, 2005, Tax Justice Network, 2005 and Tax Justice Network, 2006), little scholarly attention has been paid to examining the role which tax evasion and tax avoidance have played, and continue to play, in undermining the revenue base of developing countries, such as Nigeria, and in exacerbating income inequality and poverty in such countries. This paper has examined the role played by MNCs in tax evasion and tax avoidance practices in Nigeria in conjunction with local facilitators (such as accountants), which has had the effect of reducing Nigeria's tax revenues. Thus, as a result of globalisation and liberalisation of the markets, MNCs have adopted a variety of tax strategies by using the enabling structures in offshore financial centres and tax havens, a procedure which has been facilitated by the ‘creative’ role played by accounting and tax professionals and by the fiscal corruption of tax officials. These practices have impacted on the social and economic development of Nigeria because MNCs and local facilitators have engaged in capital flight, tax evasion and tax avoidance, and, as a result, considerable sums of Nigerian tax revenues have been, and continue to be, shifted to offshore financial centres and tax havens. Globalisation encourages the mobility of capital and global competitiveness among and between MNCs, who operate in intensely competitive financial arenas. This competition generates pressure to increase profitability and, as a result, the need to continually devise strategies to do so. To increase profits, a number of MNCs engage in anti-social tax practices by exploiting the blurred area between tax evasion and tax avoidance, and encourage their affiliates to report higher earnings, often with little regard for the collective social consequences of the Nigerian State. These practices have become predominant in Nigeria owing to the mobility of capital and because Nigeria has (purportedly) been in need of foreign direct investments in order to be able to develop its oil, gas and manufacturing sectors. Such strategies have advanced the best interests of MNCs, and some of the Nigerian elite, as MNCs are unable to perpetrate some of these anti-social activities without the knowledge and collaboration of some highly placed Nigerians and professionals. Furthermore, Nigerians working in such corporations have, with the aid of new technology, been able to hide billions of dollars owed in government revenues which are vitally needed for Nigeria's development. In sum, the evidence from the cases examined above has implicated MNCs in adopting a variety of tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes through, inter alia, under-reporting their taxable profits and manipulating their accounting reports. The cases show that one of the problems lies in the difficulty of being able to distinguish tax evasion from tax avoidance because of the thin line that separates the two concepts. As has been argued in the literature, tax avoidance (which is legal, but possibly unethical) may turn to evasion when it is challenged in court or through parliamentary investigation, as was shown in the cases involving Chevron Nigeria and the Halliburton group. In the cases examined, the activities in Nigeria of MNCs were influenced by the growth of globalisation and by the use of offshore financial structures and tax havens for the purpose of shifting profits out of Nigeria. For example, Bristows and its major affiliates have their headquarters in tax havens with complex corporate structures available to enable it to perpetrate unethical tax practices in Nigeria. Although MNCs have been the subject of litigation by the Nigerian State and the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Services, which have implicated and indicted MNCs for perpetrating allegedly fraudulent tax practices in Nigeria, some MNCs operating in Nigeria have taken (and continue to take) advantage of Nigeria's volatile tax environment in order to manage their tax liabilities. They have done so with the collaboration of the Nigerian elite and Nigerian tax officials and also accounting and taxation professionals. The use of tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance strategies raises important questions about the assumed social responsibility and ethics of professionals and their MNC clients (Sikka and Hampton, 2005). The evidence in this paper has suggested that accountants and tax experts in the revenue offices and in professional practices, such as accounting firms, have been (and continue to be) key actors creating structures conducive to tax evasion and avoidance for personal financial gain. Ezeoha and Ogamba (2010) have argued that tax authorities, accountants, auditors and corporate managers all collude to take advantage of loopholes in the system. Accountants and the tax experts whom the Nigerian government has entrusted with the responsibility of assessing, collecting, detecting and reporting cases of anti-revenue activities have been key players in these practices, as was shown in the cases involving the Bristows and Halliburton groups. Accountants and tax experts have been implicated in aiding and abetting, and in some cases, of outright diversion of tax revenue to personal accounts to the detriment of the public interest which they profess to serve and promote. Thus, the claims of professionals to be acting according to their codes of professional ethics and to be serving the public interest may ‘disguise’ the capitalist nature of their activities, for they too, like MNCs, are under organisational and social pressures to increase profits by engaging in and facilitating anti-social tax practices. This paper therefore advocates for reforms of the tax and legal systems in Nigeria, and internationally, to control the predatory behaviour of MNCs and their facilitators. As a thin line separates the two practices of tax avoidance and tax evasion in terms of what is lawful and unlawful behaviour, the tax laws should be strengthened to deal with the unethical and anti-social role played by MNCs in Nigeria. Thus, practical steps should be taken to correct the structural defects in the tax legislation, as complexities leave room for dispute about the intention of the law as written and for creative attempts to find arrangements that fall within the letter, even if not in the spirit, of the law. Tax administrators should also be more assertive in deploying the structures available in Nigeria, as was done in the Halliburton West Africa Ltd case, where over $6.9 million in tax owed as the result of tax avoidance schemes was held while the case was ongoing. In the context of corporate governance issues, managers indicted for using tax evasion and illegal tax avoidance schemes should be made to answer to tax related legislation. MNCs should also be compelled to disclose their annual tax payments in their annual audited accounts, which should be open to public inspection. This paper has suggested that, if loopholes in the tax laws are not closed, then the rule of law and the effective administration of tax will not be strengthened in Nigeria and, as a result, the country may continue to lose billions of dollars due to the activities of MNCs and their facilitators. As Nigeria, and other developing countries, continue to drive their economy through foreign direct investment, they should ensure that they do not lose their economic power to MNCs. In particular, they should constantly remind their politicians that they have obligations to their electorates, not just to local and international capitalists.