Rising Tide of Support for Tax Transparency at Major U.S. Multinational Extractive, Tech Companies Demonstrated Through Shareholder Votes

GATJ

7 June 2023

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GATJ

7 June 2023

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*This press release was written and originally published by FACT Coalition.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – In only the most recent example of large U.S. multinationals being pressed to disclose information on their international tax practices, shareholders voted last month on resolutions calling for the U.S.-based multinational extractive giants Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips to begin reporting tax and other operational data for each country in which they operate. A similar tax transparency resolution at Amazon also garnered strong support. Combined, last month’s resolutions earned votes from shareholders representing $346 billion, with the Amazon proposal outperforming its previous outing last year.

“These votes represent just one wave in a swelling ocean of support for greater tax transparency,” said Ian Gary, executive director of the FACT Coalition. “It’s clear that investors are eager to see exactly where and how their portfolio companies are doing business, and whether those companies are earning their profits through innovation and competitive advantage, or risky and irresponsible tax practices.”

“The 17 percent vote in favor of our resolution at ConocoPhillips and the preliminary vote counts of 14 percent at both Chevron and ExxonMobil signal growing shareholder support for tax transparency,” said Danny Mulé, policy lead for extractive industries tax and transparency at FACT-member Oxfam America. “Public country-by-country reporting, the measure at the heart of these resolutions, is backed by investors with $10 trillion in assets under management and already implemented by peer companies like Shell and Hess. It’s time for Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil to pull back the curtain and reveal where they make their profits and where they pay their taxes.”

These votes build on momentum from 2022, in which tech giants Microsoft and Cisco faced public country-by-country reporting (PCbCR) proposals, each garnering over 20 percent of outstanding shareholder votes. Later this month, major Canadian investment management company Brookfield will also face its own tax transparency shareholder resolution.

Meanwhile, Australia is set to advance the world’s first true PCbCR regime with global reach in the coming weeks. If passed into law, the Australian draft legislation would likely capture many large U.S.-headquartered multinationals doing business in Australia – potentially including the likes of Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips, all of which maintain Australian subsidiaries with extensive operations.

“While investors lead the push for greater transparency at the corporate level, it’s time for the U.S. to act,” said Gary. “With Australia and the European Union expected to begin implementing their own public country-by-country reporting regimes in the coming months and years, the need for a single, unified reporting standard couldn’t be clearer. It’s time for the SEC to listen to investors, lawmakers, and other stakeholders and advance strong public country-by-country reporting requirements for large multinational filers.”

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Notes to the Editor:

  • Initial vote tallies indicate that the proposals at Exxon and Chevron each received support from roughly 14 percent of shareholders, with the ConocoPhillips proposal garnering 17 percent. A similar transparency resolution at tech leader Amazon was supported by 17.7 percent of shareholders.
  • A new report by Oxfam America details the support of investors with more than $10 trillion in assets under management for public country-by-country reporting.
  • FACT’s recent report, A Material Concern: The Investor Case for Public Country-by-Country Tax Reporting, outlines the need for greater tax transparency to inform investors about potential risks to their portfolios represented by the aggressive tax planning practices of large corporations.
  • Read a recent FACT sheet outlining the need for action by the Securities and Exchange Commission to mandate public country-by-country reporting for large multinational filers here.
  • For more information on Australia’s PCbCR proposal, click here. The SEC is also considering action on PCbCR in light of mounting pressure from investors and policymakers, while the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has proposed updates to existing rules to require greater tax transparency from public U.S. businesses, including enhanced disaggregation of tax information for multinationals. FACT submitted comments on FASB’s proposal last month.

 

Photo credit: Olinda Oil Well by Kat Avila

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