The vast majority of businesses would welcome more global cooperation and guidance from tax authorities on what is acceptable and unacceptable tax planning, even if this provided less opportunity to reduce tax liabilities across borders, according to the latest research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a quarterly survey of more than 3,000 businesses in 44 countries.
The IBR reveals that two-thirds (68%) of businesses would like more tax guidance.
However, there was a marked divergence between regions with 75% of eurozone businesses eager for more guidance compared to just 54% of their North American counterparts.
Similarly businesses in Latin America (85%) are more likely to look for advice compared with peers in Asia-Pacific (67%).
"Reducing liabilities across borders can offer significant tax savings so it is interesting to see how open business leaders are to improving guidance and global cooperation," says Francesca Lagerberg, incoming Global leader of Tax at Grant Thornton.
Business leaders are also critical of what the tax regimes in their economies are set up to achieve. Just 31% globally said their local tax laws and policies were geared to stimulate economic growth.
Moreover, 49% of business leaders believe their current tax regime does not bring enough economic participants into the tax base, although there was a large divergence of opinion here between G7 businesses (63%) and their BRIC peers (17%). A further, 41% of businesses do not believe their tax regimes are sufficiently redistributive, led by those in North America (54%).
"Tax is a cost to businesses in its simplest form so it is perhaps unsurprising to see few associate it with economic growth," says Lagerberg. "Moreover, many mature economies around the world are undergoing severe fiscal retrenchment and business leaders are seeing taxes rise even as growth remains flat."
"However, that businesses feel taxes are too regressive and that not enough people and entities are being taxed is perhaps more surprising. It suggests that business leaders would be supportive of changes to the global tax system that would level the playing field. The international moves by such organisations as the OECD."
The IBR also reveals that just two in five business leaders plan to make their own tax affairs more transparent over the next 12 months. This is true of just 25% of G7 businesses compared with 68% of BRIC peers perhaps reflecting the different stages of tax system development the two groups of economies find themselves in and the local pressure in parts of the world to encourage greater openness in relation to tax.