This benchmark is based on the good tax governance guiding principles designed by VBDO and Oikos. Each principle is further separated into various elements and converted into measurable criteria. These measurable criteria are then tested against publicly and online available information. Scoring is based on an assessment over reporting year 2018. Each company was offered the opportunity to provide feedback on the initial review.
In 2018, the Tax Transparency Benchmark methodology was overhauled to better reflect the latest status, trends and developments on tax transparency from the perspective of (tax) laws, regulations and societal expectations. This resulted in an adjustment of some of the criteria and the addition of new criteria. Questions that were added include those on aligning tax with business and sustainability strategies, organisational values, and (tax) technology. To give companies time to adapt, some of these criteria were applied less strictly in the 2018 benchmark. This year, however, companies were encouraged to implement the more stringent criteria in full, in order to reflect how they adapt to the changing environment and how they improve the quality of their reporting on a continuous basis. In addition, in comparison to last year’s benchmark, more focus was put on the implementation and execution of the various criteria. This means that VBDO looked not only at the statements made by the companies but also at the presence of a detailed description or narrative on how the criteria were implemented.
This year’s results show that companies are more tax transparent than ever before.
The highest scoring companies increased their performance the most and appear to be eager to improve further on tax transparency and governance. The overall percentage of total points scored by the top 10 companies in 2018 was 61%, whereas in 2019 this figure increased to 76%. This year’s results also show that the laggards on the list have become more transparent. The number of companies that scored below the minimum amount (0-10 points) decreased this year. Overall transparency ratings on our six principles of good tax governance increased from 39% to 43% this year. This upward movement is seen as a positive trend. There still remains a lot of ground to be covered, as the average score is still well below 50%; however, overall, there has been a great deal of improvement, which is very encouraging.
The number of companies that scored below minimum has fallen this year, from 41% in 2018 to 30% in 2019. Out of these lower scoring companies, 13% are AEX-listed, 33% are AMX-listed and 53% are AScX-listed. Of the companies scoring above minimum, 42% are AEX-listed, 32% are AMX-listed, 23% are AScX-listed and 4% are non-listed.
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