Bid to stop big firms tax dodging

Britain, France and Germany are spearheading a push for international agreement on measures to end practices such as “transfer pricing” where profits are diverted to low-tax countries.

It follows claims of immoral behaviour by a number of high-profile firms who have paid little or no corporation tax in Britain and the US by exploiting legal loopholes.

Public outrage over corporate tax avoidance must be used as a “catalyst for change” British chancellor George Osborne said.

Mr Osborne was in Moscow for a meeting of finance ministers from the G20 group of economies which pledged to find ways to crack down on tax dodging by multinationals.

Australian treasurer Wayne Swan said: “It is clear there are some multinational companies that are simply not paying tax. What we need is a global approach to dealing with this problem. If the revenue is being deliberately reduced, and people are not paying their fair share of tax, that puts a great burden on taxpayers in those countries and indeed on taxpayers around the world.”

And governments that manipulate their currencies are a hindrance to global growth, Mr Swan said: “Market-based exchange rates, fiscal and monetary policies supporting jobs and growth; that’s the core of the G20 agenda... To have people artificially target their exchange rates completely repudiates that approach.”

Swan and his peers in Moscow sharpened their stance against governments trying to influence exchange rates, as they seek to tame speculation of a global currency war without singling out Japan for criticism. With the yen near its lowest level against the dollar since 2010, policy makers are attempting to soothe concern that some countries are trying to weaken exchange rates to spur export-led growth.

Swan, who has been attempting to reduce the negative effects that the high Australian dollar has had on domestic exports and the manufacturing and service industries, declined to specify that Japan had manipulated the yen to his nation’s detriment.

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