Companies have a moral obligation to pay their fair share of taxes, Paul Polman and Andrew Winston write in their book Net Positive. I agree with them. Even if it is lawful it is often awful to avoid paying taxes. Rutger Bregman became a hero at the World Economic Forum in 2019 by advocating this issue. “How can you be a purpose-driven company when you don’t pay much to the society that makes it possible for you to do business?”, Polman and Winston ask.
“In a 2018 analysis, of the 379 profitable companies in the Fortune 500, almost one-quarter paid an effective tax rate of zero percent or less”, they write. That is terrible. “We need to transform the image of taxes as costs to minimize to thinking of them as investments in our health, well-being, and society.” That starts with transparency. Polman says that Unilever posts detailed tax principles, its effective tax rate and taxes paid in dozens of countries. “No games.”
This is part of a series of blogs about “Net Positive”, an important book by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston. See the other blogs on this website.