The Tax Justice Network (TJN) is a campaigning body led by John
Christensen which advocates fairer tax policies around the
globe, particularly to benefit developing countries, and global
tax transparency advances in 2014 represent a huge feather in
the TJN's cap.
Network cofounders Richard Murphy and John Christensen
were also in the Global Tax 50
Now in its 11th year, it carries out research and analysis
of international tax policies and financial regulations and is
a staunch opponent of tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance and
the use of tax havens.
One of TJN's key areas of focus over the past year has been
ensuring that developing countries have a seat at the debating
table during tax-related international negotiations.
The approach has drawn attention to the lack of non-OECD
representation, and TJN can perhaps be credited with pressuring
the OECD into including 10 developing countries including
Albania, Jamaica, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal and
Tunisia to participate in its Committee of Fiscal Affairs,
which forms its agenda.
The biggest success story for groups like TJN during 2014
was the progress made on the country-by-country reporting
(CbCR) transparency initiative under the BEPS Action Plan
The significant advances made this year on CbCR represent
another step forward for a key issue on the TJN agenda. The UK
was the first of 44 countries involved in CbCR proposals to
formally commit to the standard. Richard Murphy, the architect
of CbCR, co-founder of TJN – now director of Tax
Research having split from the TJN last year – and
Global Tax 50 2013 entrant, will be pleased at the OECD's
September announcement that "there is agreement on a common
template for country-by-country reporting" of revenue, pre-tax
profit, tax paid, tax accrued, total employment, capital,
retained earnings and tangible assets on an annual basis.
"From a standing start in 2002, when the notion of such a
standard was first discussed by Prem Sikka, Richard Murphy and
I at a meeting in Jersey, CbCR has progressed from an outline
proposal drafted by Richard Murphy to becoming a global
standard now being developed by the OECD," says
The template also requires multinationals to identify each
entity within the group doing business in a particular country
and to provide an indication of the business activities each
entity engages in.
"TJN has changed several global conversations, and in doing
so has completely transformed thinking about tax avoidance, tax
havens and the role of tax in shaping development processes,"
says Christensen. "TJN has also reshaped the corruption debate
by looking at the supply-side intermediaries (tax havens,
lawyers, accounting firms which provide the secretive offshore
structures that encourage and facilitate corrupt
But the TJN and fellow tax justice campaigners will not be
satisfied until the template is fully adopted and implemented,
meaning 2015 is likely to be a pivotal 12-month period, and
lobbying for the CbCR information to be made publicly
available, rather than just being provided to tax
administrations, is sure to continue.
There are challenges that lie ahead, though, as Christensen
"One of the biggest barriers to our progress has been that
very few people outside the tax industry – including
journalists and politicians – understand the
complexities of international tax," says Christensen.
"Our work is further complicated by the fact the OECD claims
to be the legitimate international rule-maker on tax matters,
but its membership includes most of the powerful tax haven
lobbies, which leaves little room for compromise," he
continues. "There are powerful and wealthy counter-lobbies who
put huge effort into obfuscating and misleading the public on
It may be a long shot, but if groups such as the TJN can
continue their against-the-odds success story and convince
governments around the world that this information must be
publicised, their position on the Global Tax 50 2015 is sure to
be even higher.