August 30, 2006 01:47 PM | | Bookmark and Share

A fellow from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the big accounting, lobbying and corporate public relations firm, called me the other day to talk about a PwC project called the “Total Tax Contribution framework,” which he described as “an effort to enhance transparency in corporate tax reporting.” He buttered me up by citing my long history in exposing corporate tax avoidance, and then asked if he and some of his colleagues could sit down with me for an hour or so and talk about the project. To further interest me, he added that the idea had already been tried out in the United Kingdom, and had proven to be very popular there.

I was wary. So I asked him to e-mail me some background materials. The next day, I received two colorful brochures, designed to pitch the “Total Tax Contribution framework” to PwC’s corporate clients. A quick look confirmed my suspicions. Amazingly, PwC is trying to get corporations to pretend their tax bills are bigger than they really are, by counting not just their actual taxes, but also taxes they don’t pay, such as those paid by their customers, workers, suppliers and so forth!

PwC’s materials suggest that such misinformation might be usefully employed by companies in things such as phonybaloney “corporate responsibility reports” and “PR and marketing campaigns.” The brochures offer PwC’s help in doing so, presumably for a hefty fee.

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