GRI asks for comments on new tax standard

March 4, 2019

Sustainability standards setter GRI is on track to make a significant update to their standards this year with the addition of a new standard on taxation and payments to governments. We spoke with GRI’s Chief of Standards Bastian Buck and GRI’s North America Director Alyson Genovese to find out more.

This is an interview with GRI. NYSE presents the information for informational purposes, but does not endorse, represent nor warrant the accuracy of the narrative, which relies solely on material provided by GRI.

You’re currently taking comments on a new standard that would require companies to report additional detail on taxes and government payments, what’s driving this?

Tax and payments to governments are important sources of income for governments and play a vital role in enabling the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is through tax and payments to governments that companies, big and small, contribute to society. Despite this, organizational information related to this topic remains limited, particularly at the individual country level. With this draft standard, GRI is aiming to open the conversation, to have a more informed public debate, creating an environment for better policy and investment decisions.

What is that investors are looking for in this data?

The draft Standard is the first global standard to combine management approach disclosures on tax strategy with country-by-country reporting of income, taxes, and business activities. Country-by-country reporting can help identify where the economic substance of an organization’s activity is located, and if the taxes paid in that location reflect this.

Increased reporting will enable stakeholders to make informed judgments about an organization’s position on tax and payments to governments. For investors, clear and comprehensive information on an organization’s profits and tax payments in different jurisdictions will enable better-informed decisions based on more accurate risk profiles of organizations, and how, an organization is adhering to responsible tax behavior in each jurisdiction in which it operates.

One of the purposes of the public comment process is to validate the value and use of the reporting required by the proposed Standard, so we want investors to tell us if it will elicit the information they need to evaluate organizations.

If a company wants to find out more, where should they go?

Visit our project page for more information. It may also be of interest for readers to listen to our recent podcast on tax reporting for interviews with the Chair of the GSSB, Judy Kuszewski, and a member of the investor constituency that participated in the Tax and Payments to Governments Technical Committee.

If a company wants to make comments, what is the process and timeline for that?

The draft Tax and Payments to Governments Standard is open for public comment through to 15 March 2019. An interactive PDF of the draft Standard is available online for interested parties to review and comment on. You can also email [email protected] and all emails will be submitted to the Technical Working Group for their review and consideration. We invite all interested stakeholders to share their opinions and expertise with us and help us make sure it will deliver the valuable information about an organization’s tax approach.