Alex Cobham Profile picture
Chief exec @taxjusticenet. Commissioner @povinequalscot. Opinions mine. #Palma inequality. Books: The Uncounted (Polity Press); Estimating IFFs (OUP). He/him.
Feb 9 16 tweets 4 min read
The @povinequalscot tax working group is up and running, and we had a great - if somewhat disheartening - first evidence session this week. Here are a few thoughts (mine only) on the challenges that face Scotland, to find a fair tax future... 🧵 A reminder that the work of the working group is made public on an ongoing basis, and you can find the (still open!) call for evidence here also:…
Feb 9 18 tweets 7 min read
Taking a moment to reflect on the financial secrecy problems that football continues to refuse to deal with...🧵 There's a lot of great work around at the moment, digging into the questionable finances of their clubs, and those who would acquire them - from @uglygame on crypto sponsors, @SSTInvesting on Morecambe, to @sportingintel @PhilippeAuclair @JosimarFotball on the whole ball game
Aug 1, 2022 5 tweets 3 min read
It is inconceivable that the UK government would contract for £70bn of public money, with a company with two (2) employee/directors, filing minimal accounts using the micro company exemption. Isn't it? 👀 Helpful and worrying explanation of how the (up to) £70bn contract may be operated
May 29, 2022 5 tweets 3 min read
Extraordinary story from @EmmaAgyemang @FT - the UK government has revealed that it is failing to use automatically exchanged information on foreign financial accounts in order to combat tax abuse of the richest households… For HMRC to have access to this data on foreign financial accounts of UK tax residents, and to *not* use it in combination with tax returns to analyse the scale and distribution of tax abuse, is - as the FT quotes me - 'an outright dereliction of its duty'. FT screenshot: "Alex Cobham, chief executive at the Tax
Oct 29, 2021 9 tweets 5 min read
Here's a short funny story about international tax and racism. (Ok, it's not that funny. But it's also about academic impact, and very much worth celebrating.) On 7 April 2021, President Biden announces he's going to stop companies being "able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, in #taxhavens."

Somehow, it's *always* the [black majority] palm-fringed islands that get called out...…
Sep 16, 2021 9 tweets 2 min read
Very good news to see the World Bank finally end the ideological nonsense that was its 'Doing Business' rankings. But the report the Bank has published on the reasons why is almost unbelievable - the extent of corruption in the organisation is just mindblowing. The report is the result of an independent external review which the Bank commissioned (fair play) to look at the revelations about manipulation of the data and rankings in 2018 and 2020.…
Jul 1, 2021 26 tweets 7 min read
OK, the OECD statement is out - and *now* it's clear why so many countries have expressed reservations.… Circulating beforehand were suggestions that in pillar 1, over 30% of the 'residual' profit could be apportioned to the sales jurisdiction.

No joy for lower-income countries (or anyone who favours a more ambitious move to curtail arm's length abuse): it's left at "20-30%".
May 12, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
Fascinating - both that ATAF is empowered to table its own proposal, following discussions with the US rather than the OECD, and also the detail: pointing towards a comprehensive apportionment of global profits of large multinationals... Thinking more about @ATAFtax proposal, it seems highly significant. It returns to the spirit of G24 proposal which Inclusive Framework backed in early 2019 for OECD to evaluate (as 1 of 3). It was never evaluated, just discarded in favour of the secretariat's 'unified' proposal.
May 12, 2021 14 tweets 3 min read
Results in: the court overturns EC finding of Luxembourg state aid to Amazon... While confirming Lux state aid to Engie...
Apr 28, 2021 21 tweets 7 min read
As frustrated members made clear in 2020, the OECD Inclusive Framework does not make the decisions in the corporate tax negotiations they nominally lead, and nor even is it the G20 that gave the OECD the mandate - it is (still) the G7.

So where do they stand on Biden's 21% plan? There are two important elements to this. First, do countries support a 21% minimum corporate tax rate? And second, do they support a fair distribution of the right to tax the undertaxed profits?
Apr 23, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
It is *very* difficult to understand why so much effort is being made to keep the Irish government onside in the OECD talks. If the talks deliver, the business model is bust - and the government's focus should be on finding a better future that doesn't rob others of revenues. Ireland imposes large revenue costs on others - we estimate this one jurisdiction accounts for some 3.7% of the global losses due to tax abuse. Global rankings graphic: Ireland ranks 11th on the CorporateHarm to other countries graphic: Ireland imposes $16 billion
Apr 23, 2021 21 tweets 8 min read
This is quite something. The French government's position on the EU move to public country by country reporting for multinational companies, a key measure to curb profit shifting abuses, appears to have been captured entirely by... the business lobby. The French government's two-pager on its negotiating position - its critical demands - has been leaked. According to the scoop in @Contexte, the metadata of the pdf reveal the hand not of diplomats or ministers, but of a senior employee of MEDEF - the French business lobby group.
Apr 22, 2021 42 tweets 9 min read
This resolves one international tax mystery, but raises another set of questions.

It turns out that *France* proposed the trivially low 12.5% rate for a global minimum corporate tax... 🧵 It has long been something of a mystery why the OECD secretariat pushed 12.5% in the 'pillar 2' discussions.

One theory went like this.
Dec 4, 2020 23 tweets 15 min read
History faces forwards as well as backwards. As we prepare for the second day of our #ImperialInequalities conference today, and our new @FPCThinkTank
piece is published, I've blogged on whether and how the UK could move beyond its imperial legacies… Registration for day 2 of #ImperialInequalities is still open, and the events get underway in just over three hours
Dec 3, 2020 21 tweets 14 min read
We're now starting the first panel of our #ImperialInequalities conference, with @JuliaMcClure_ examining the role of 'welfare imperialism' in the Spanish empire.

>150 people viewing live, join them below! Here's the full first panel #ImperialInequalities, with @JuliaMcClure_ (U. Glasgow) David Brown (Trinity) @madeline_woker (Brown U.) & Laura Channing (Cambridge) and moderated by @GKBhambra
Nov 6, 2020 57 tweets 20 min read
This is fantastic - really impressive set of questions and issues raised on the international approach to illicit financial flows. There's a lot to say so I'll thread the replies here, bit by bit... 1. Why did the MDGs overlook non-aid finance? This was by design: the MDGs were driven by aid donors, and were largely conceived of as ensuring better alignment of donors and recipient states - setting common goals so aid would deliver more.
Oct 20, 2020 10 tweets 4 min read
Matt summarises very well the broadly non-ideological objections to what has just been achieved, in confirming corporate tax abuse as part of the illicit financial flows SDG target, so I'll try to thread a response with each of his points So first, I don't think there really is much of this confusion around. People largely understand these are quite different phenomena; but they also recognise, rightly, that they depend on being hidden, and they do the same kinds of revenue & social damage
Oct 20, 2020 22 tweets 11 min read
It's not every day that a niche question of statistical definition represents a significant step forward for global policy. But today... is that day!

(Excessively long thread follows) A little background. Since the Millennium Development Goals overlooked non-aid finance, pressure has been building to recognise the centrality of tax, and for global policy measures against the broad threat posed by 'illicit financial flows'...
Oct 7, 2020 20 tweets 7 min read
Here's a short thread with some *stark* numbers, showing just how limited the OECD 'BEPS 2.0' tax reform proposals have become.

The secretariat proposals are at the G20 now, and published next week... so how big a deal would they be? The numbers relate to the Netherlands, one of the biggest corporate tax havens worldwide, and part of what we've called the 'axis of tax avoidance'.
Jul 8, 2020 31 tweets 10 min read
Starting a thread with a little timeline, because there is some significant news coming down the pipe today...

Back in the early 2000s, illustrious #taxjustice peeps @jechristensen56 @premnsikka @RichardJMurphy discussed the opacity of multinational companies, including on tax Their discussions can be seen as part of a scattered history extending over decades, centring on attempts to require transparency from multinational companies about their global operations, including path-breaking work by the G77 countries @UNCTAD -…
Jun 17, 2020 31 tweets 6 min read
Boom. The US has blown up BEPS 2.0: "unable to agree even on an interim basis changes to global taxation law that would affect leading US digital companies."… via @financialtimes Where does this take us? The process was already in disarray, with the non-OECD members of the Inclusive Framework openly calling out the institution's failure to take meaningful account of their views.