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Abstract

The tax gap between taxes that are “actually” paid and taxes that “ought” to have been paid by multinational corporate entities has become an area of huge public policy concern in the recent decades. This study reviews the impact of new legislation to reveal the tax gap created by the EU banks and financial institutions passed in 2013 and in particular of the quality of the resulting country-by-country reporting (CBCR) requirement for banks. Although resulting tax gap estimates are noted, they suffer due to significant problems in the published data; much of it is due to the quality of the regulation requiring its publication and implementation. The findings reveal a lack of understanding of the technical and structural weaknesses of accounting in a transnational context in the design of this regulation. CBCR is destined to fail in achieving its regulatory objectives in this context unless necessary reform of the regulation is undertaken.

Abstract

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper focusing on the interpretations issued by different Portuguese courts concerning the application of the accrual principle established in the Corporate Income Tax Code.

This paper uses a database of the Portuguese tax courts’ decisions and employs a case law-based research methodology to address the following question: under which circumstances the principle of justice may affect the strict application of the accrual principle? After collecting twenty-four legal decisions related to the application of the accrual principle outlined in tax law, this paper summarises eleven, grouping them according to the different issues under dispute. This analysis also includes the confrontation of the assumptions used by the tax authority and the claims of the taxpayers, identifying and discussing the legal arguments to override the strict application of the accrual principle.

The main conclusion is that Portuguese courts may summon the principle of justice in taxation when taxpayers violate the accrual principle, in order to prevent unfair corrections to taxable income performed in tax audits. This paper found that the tax authority typically demands a rigid use of the accrual principle while the taxpayers often argue for a more flexible application. This last perspective has been adopted by the tax courts in certain circumstances, in particular when taxable income transfer was not motivated by tax avoidance.

Abstract

CSR practices and reporting vary across countries and companies. Accouting studies using institutional theory show that even where there are coercive pressures to converge, local practices and traditions are other types of pressures that play a role in maintaining divergence. Similarly, legal studies indicate that harmonisation attempts made by the European Union are usually challenged by States attempting to maintain the status quo of the local context, and this may also apply to CSR reporting harmonization.

This research investigates whether or not the institutional pressure toward non-financial reporting harmonization represented by the Directive/2014/95/EU led to convergent behaviours between Member States, at least at the transposition stage. Transposition laws in Member States where CSR has historically played a limited role (i. e. Romania and Bulgaria) are compared with those issued by countries where CSR traditions are much more well developed (France, Belgium and the UK). The analysis focuses on how both mandatory and discretionary requirements have been transposed at a national level.

The transposition outcome is analysed in the face of economic-, government- and society-related factors of each country and results show that on several occasions, divergence is catalysed by differences in national business systems. This is aligned with the results of previous studies (e. g. Jamali and Neville, 2011), which argue that historical, cultural, economic and political local contexts mould the CSR conceptualisation existing in a given country, and therefore the convergence of different CSR practices is only apparent.

Abstract

Inspired by the principles of sustainable finance and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, the European Union Directive 95/2014 on non-financial disclosure recognized that metrics and more transparency would foster internal debates, ensuring proper governance and helping to promote dialogue between management, the board and stakeholders, including civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although significant academic attention has been paid to the -limited- space that the third sector had in the definition of the content of the Directive, not enough has been said on the way in which the Directive and ESG reporting can be leveraged by non-financial actors and what are the consequences of embracing accounting, non-financial reporting and corporate governance as tools for campaigning. This paper tries to fill the gap and asks some direct questions: are the Directive and the EU approach to sustainable finance opening spaces of engagement and confrontation that contribute to a true transition into a socially and environmentally sustainable future? Is the encounter between the financial realm and civil society a real win-win in the best interest of future generations and the planet? After presenting the background of the Directive and the three main opportunities that the ESG framework presents for civil society engagement, we conclude with a critical reflection on what is lost when civil society sits around the same table as financial institutions, uses their vocabulary and accepts that the conversation can only happen around those social and environmental causes that are financially material.