"Fantastic Four" prepare to face off against the tax avoiders in new multinational initiative - so we don't have to

Jake Cordell
Follow Jake
Three of the Fantastic Four from the 2005 film. None of these have been roped in to help crack down on tax avoidance. Yet.
Three of the Fantastic Four from the 2005 film. None have been roped in to help crack down on tax avoidance. Yet. (Source: Getty)

Four of the world’s foremost international bodies are to team up to launch a fresh fight against tax avoidance in the wake of the Panama Papers.

The revelations have claimed the scalp of one global leader so far, embroiled hundreds of others and left a trail of metaphorical destruction in their path. Now, the multinational good guys are getting involved to try and fight back against the big bad corporates embarrassing national exchequers across the world.

Who are the fantastic four?

Only the creme de la creme of international organisations have been invited to suit up for this showdown. The heavyweight hitters being called into play are:

  • United Nations (UN)

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

  • World Bank

The new look outfit will be called “The Platform for Collaboration on Tax”.

What are they trying to achieve?

Nothing less than the complete overhaul of the world tax system. Ok, something a little less than that.

Officially their objective is to “better support governments in addressing the tax challenges they face”, following the fact that “strengthening tax systems … has emerged as a key development priority”.

In short, the adults are fed up with national governments saying they can’t act alone to reform tax and are going to get them all to sit down and sort things out.

What are they actually going to do?

Hold meetings, mainly.

The core four will get together at least three times a year, piggybacking onto other major conferences, like the IMF’s one that has just wrapped up in Washington DC.

There will also be a major public conference every other year, beginning in late 2017.

The meetings will be geared towards producing “concrete joint outputs and deliverables under an agreed work plan”.

Fear not though, it won’t just be a talking shop. The gang will also be “sharing information”, “strengthening dynamic interactions”, and producing “joint policy papers, analysis and guidance”. Mossack Fonseca must be quaking in its boots.

Is any of it new?

It’s hard to tell.

The mission statement published this afternoon makes heavy reference to the “base erosion, profit shifting (Beps)” work already being carried out by the G20 and OECD. There’s lots of talk about “synergies” between the two, particularly over the creation of an “Inclusive Framework” and “toolkits” for individual countries to implement the Beps work.

Then there is the “Multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters”, which has been knocking around since 1988 and was called “the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax cooperation” by the IMF today.

Read more: European Commission hits back at Google

Other groups, initiatives and institutions mentioned in the “concept note” released today include the UN Committee of Experts, the “Addis Tax Initiative” and, presumably the less glamorous cousin to Medecins Sans Frontieres, “Tax Inspectors Without Borders.”

Will it work?

Invites to the first meeting can’t be far away. Watch this space.

Related articles