Sweden: Tax agency’s report proposes companies establish a tax policy

Sweden: Established tax policy

Sweden’s tax agency (Skatteverket) released a report addressing proposed requirements that companies have a tax policy—one that is established by the management board.

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The report (released 30 October 2016) follows a suggestion made earlier this year by the Ministry of Finance, to encourage the discussion of tax policy issues by corporate management. The report:

  • Looks toward a voluntary implementation of establishing a tax policy by companies
  • States that the existence of a tax policy would not affect the tax authority's risk assessment of the taxpayer or be used in the selection of taxpayers for tax inspections
  • Suggests that certain supportive measures be used to foster the establishment of rules for a tax policy
  • Proposes that state-owned enterprises are mandated to introduce a tax policy, and that the same applies to government agencies with ownership interests (such as the state pension funds); the report proposes that such agencies are to introduce tax policies not only for each agency's own organization but also to promote tax policies among its holdings
  • Clarifies that taxes are a “sustainability issue” and further, that in taking into account the risks associated with tax planning, such risk could include negative media attention to a company's reputation 

KPMG observation

One take-away from the report is that the tax agency sees tax as a sustainability issue and that there will continue to be heightened focus on the responsibilities of management in tax matters and with respect to transparency in the area of taxation. Companies may expect to be increasingly questioned by different stakeholder groups on their tax issues, including increased requests for transparency. A recent study by KPMG in Sweden shows that only 14% of the largest listed Swedish companies currently have a public tax policy.

 

Read an October 2016 report (Swedish) or (English) prepared by the KPMG member firm in Sweden: Skatteverket föreslår krav på skattepolicy för statliga bolag och slår fast att skatt är en hållbarhetsfråga

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