Think-tank calls for higher standards in tax planning.

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Tax transparency will become the next big issue on the ethics agenda, according to a new research report. The publication, by independent think-tank SustainAbility, states that corporate tax planning should be subject to the same standards of accountability as environmental and social performance.

The researchers believe that there's a polarisation between firms that see tax as a cost to be avoided and those that recognise tax as part of their social contract. But Seb Beloe, SustainAbility's director of research, said that aggressive tax avoidance was increasingly falling short of society's expectations of corporate responsibility.

"Instead of focusing on stretching the boundary between legal and illegal approaches to tax avoidance, business must pay attention to whether its practice is responsible or not," said Beloe, who stressed that the report's emphasis was on the process of decision-making about tax payments and not the actual amount of tax paid. "We'd argue...

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