Codes of conduct as a means to manage ethical tax governance

Hans Gribnau, Eelco Van der Enden, Kuralay Baisalbayeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In recent years international taxation has become a hotly disputed topic. Luxleaks, Pamana papers, Paradise Papers, State Aid-cases, etc. received a lot of media coverage. As a result, tax is at the top of the political agenda of for example the G20, OECD and EU and many substantial changes are taking place. Rebuilding trust among major stakeholders is crucial for a sustainable international infrastructure in respect of taxation.
The current unrest with regard to multinational companies’ tax planning practices shows that society demands companies to integrate tax governance in their corporate governance. Society demands moral evaluation of tax planning practices - even if it is legal tax avoidance, aimed at minimising companies’ tax liability. Companies do well, therefore, to integrate ethical risks with regard to tax in their risk management. Paying taxes and morality are apparently connected. This article will elaborate on the moral dimension of paying taxes.
Tax administrations are also interested in the governance of taxation, because the tax behaviour of multinational enterprises can indicate much regarding their acceptance of risk and attitude towards tax planning. But how can they trust that multinational companies are complying with the law and want to build a good relationship with tax administrations and society? We focus on tax codes of conduct which are currently used by companies and regulators in an attempt to obtain greater control over economic and social relationships. Corporations publish codes to communicate their standards of ethical behaviour internally and externally - enabling (moral) evaluation by stakeholders. Tax codes of conduct relate to tax risks and substantive and procedural ethical norms. May be tax codes of conduct are a way to meet stakeholder needs with regard to tax in the current highly politicized and mediatised environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-407
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • tax fairness
  • tax planning
  • multinational corporations
  • moral agency
  • ethical culture
  • moral climate
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • corporate governance
  • transparency
  • soft law
  • self-regulation
  • codes of conduct
  • tax governance
  • risk management
  • tax compliance


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