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Business Ethics Briefing: Tax Avoidance as an Ethical Issue for Business

This Briefing explores corporate taxation and specifically the issue of tax avoidance as a business ethics issue…The term ‘tax avoidance’ is used to refer to legitimate but maybe aggressive use of things such as financial instruments and other arrangements to obtain a tax result not intended, or anticipated by, the government...Paying a ‘fair’ amount of tax in the countries in which they operate is seen as a responsible thing for a company to do for the social good…[S]ome say it is morally indefensible for multinational corporations be avoiding paying their fair share of UK taxes. Avoiding tax is avoiding a social obligation it is argued…Company directors will often argue, however, that their responsibility is to maximise the value they deliver for their shareholders and that includes keeping tax costs to a minimum within the realms of what is legal…[Also refers to Amazon, Associated British Foods, Centrica, Dell, Google, IBM, L'Oréal, Microsoft, Old Mutual, Rolls Royce, Starbucks, Vodafone]