Where would tax avoiders be without their favourite firms of accountants – PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young? The Big 4, as they’re called, audit all the biggest companies tax in the world – and no doubt help with their tax structuring too.
Their attitude to tax is clear. As Prof Prem Sikka of Essex University has noted in a research paper, Ernst & Young have said: “Tax is a cost of doing business so, naturally, a good manager will try to manage this cost and the risks associated with it". He also notes they’ve said of transfer pricing, one of the techniques widely believed to be used to move profits for tax planning purposes, that they provide “creative and practical solutions for … transfer pricing needs.”
No doubt all the Big 4 do the same, and as Prof Sikka notes, they are widely represented in all the major tax havens of the world, including places like Cayman, Bermuda and the Channel Islands.
Who to nominate though? Well that has to be KPMG because they picked up what is thought to be the world’s biggest ever fine for criminal tax fraud, paid in the USA in August 2006. The fine in question? $456 million.
- Image: Andrew Aitchison