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OECD countries agree to share info to combat corporate tax avoidance

[PARIS] More than 30 OECD countries signed an agreement on Wednesday to share information about multinationals in a push to boost transparency following public anger over large corporations playing the system to lower their tax bills.

Under the new rules, multinationals will have to report country by country how much they make and what they pay in taxes.

The move is aimed at stopping firms from using complicated loopholes or moving money across borders to minimise or avoid paying corporate tax.

The head of the OECD economic grouping, Angel Gurria, said the agreement was a move towards "the goal of ensuring that companies pay their fair share of tax".

"Country-by-country reporting will have an immediate impact in boosting international co-operation on tax issues, by enhancing the transparency of multinational enterprises' operations," he said in a statement.

The exchange of information will start in 2017 and give tax administrations "a single, global picture" on the activities of big businesses, he added.

Australia, Britain, Chile, France, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico and Switzerland were among the 31 signatories.

The United States had yet to sign up to the accord but would do so in the near future, the OECD said.

The proposals are part of a 15-point OECD package agreed by leaders at a G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey in November.

The OECD calculates that national governments lose US$100-240 billion, or 4-10 per cent of global tax revenues, every year because of the tax-minimising schemes of multinationals such as Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

Google agreed on Friday to pay £130 million (S$264 million) in back taxes to Britain after a scathing government inquiry into the search giant's tax arrangements.