Alex Cobham Profile picture
Chief exec @taxjusticenet. Commissioner @povinequalscot. Opinions mine. #Palma inequality. New book: What do we know and what should we do about tax justice?
Feb 26 13 tweets 3 min read
The absence of media coverage in the UK and EU of the growing PwC scandal in Australia is striking - because it's not an Australian scandal any more, but a global one. There are (at least) three key pieces... First, the original scandal goes far beyond PwC Australia. When then-partner Peter Collins breached a confidentiality agreement with the Australian Treasury, information was shared with multiple PwC partners around the world.
Feb 20 16 tweets 3 min read
Some quick reflections on that first session of these historic (pre-)negotiations. 1. The blockers' lines are clear and they were echoed by some of the more 'neutral' OECD members as well as the hardcore havens:
* Do not duplicate or risk the work of the OECD
* Require full consensus for any decisions, regardless of how long the process then takes
Feb 15 17 tweets 4 min read
Great story from Kevin Pinner @Law360, who becomes the first to get @MathiasCormann on the record about some of the details of his opaque stake in a consulting firm run by the scandal-ridden ex-CEO of PwC Australia @Law360 @MathiasCormann This is the most eyebrow-raising statement from Cormann's spokesperson: the claim that the now head of the OECD, who was Australia's minister for finance from Sep.2013 to Oct.2020, did not know Sayers "during his time as CEO of PwC Australia" (Apr.2012-May 2020).
Jun 15, 2023 12 tweets 5 min read
Very interesting interview with Marlene Parker, co-chair of the OECD 'Inclusive Framework' and Jamaican member of the UN Tax Committee. And kudos to @IsabelGottlieb!… 3 key things

1. It's a measure of just how central the *UN* tax convention already is, that the first half of an interview with the OECD process co-chair is focused on prospects at the UN instead. Things are shifting!
Feb 9, 2023 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, 2023 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