Oxfam tax report critical of Reckitt Benckiser

Oxfam this morning published Making Tax Vanish, a report critical of Reckitt Benckiser and other multinationals the charity claims do not pay their ‘fair share’ of tax globally.

Here’s a quick overview of the key points.

  • Tax ‘dodging’ by multinationals costs developing counties about £78bn a year, the report estimates.
  • ‘This deprives governments around the world of the money they need to tackle poverty and inequality’, says the report.
  • It includes a case study of Reckitt Benckiser, accusing the British household goods giant of massive tax avoidance.
  • RB funnelled earnings through low-tax jurisdictions – the Netherlands, Dubai and Singapore – rather than those in which it conducts its core business, says Oxfam.
  • From 2013 to 2015, the company avoided £66.2m in France, £71.3m in Australia, £22m in Belgium, £7.4m in New Zealand, and “up to £60m in developing countries”, according to the international aid charity

Read more: Reckitt Benckiser denies avoiding £60m of taxes in developing nations

  • RB denied its decision to relocate regional headquarters in 2012 to the Netherlands, Dubai and Singapore was driven by tax avoidance.
  • Motivation was to ensure its business was “organised to be close to its customers and consumers”, it said.
  • The Durex maker insisted it paid “the right amount of tax in each country where we do business” and that its tax policy was “totally legal and the norm for the majority of global businesses”.
  • RB said it backed “Oxfam’s belief that it is important for governments, particularly the poorest nations, to have access to sufficient tax receipts to be able to invest in the provision of adequate public services and infrastructure”.
  • It also supported “the OECD guidelines on tax and transparency and will fully comply”.
  • Oxfam then issued a statement to say the company had “backed a public campaign for tougher tax laws”.
  • The charity “welcomed RB’s support for greater transparency and tighter rules”.