18th Annual Global CEO Survey: Taxing times for global business

Despite evidence that governments around the world are reducing tax costs and compliance, these efforts are not being felt by CEOs. Here we explore some of the reasons for the disparity.

PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey reveals that seven in 10 CEOs are still concerned about the increasing tax burden borne by their businesses – some 15 percentage points higher than the levels of anxiety seen in 2012.

These high levels of concern are despite the trends seen in the annual PwC / World Bank Group study, Paying Taxes: The Global Picture, which suggest a different story. The most recent study shows that not only has the global average Total Tax Rate for a typical medium sized company fallen by 1.3 percentage points, but so too has the compliance burden, measured by the average time it takes a case study company to comply with its tax responsibilities and the number of tax payments required to be made. Indeed, all three of these sub-indicators have shown a steady downwards progression over the past decade. So why is there such a mismatch?

Explore CEOs perspectives and what business and government can do.

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CEO interview quotes

"Why is generating trust important? Because people who trust you work with you more, they buy your products, they lend you money and, as a result, you do better as a business."

Badr Jafar
Managing Director , Crescent Group

“Most importantly what maintains trust is the ability to do what the general population expects or demands of public institutions. And this is sometimes somewhat lacking, when governments in power or institutions are unable to deliver the basic things that people think are important.”

Brian Molefe
Group Chief Executive, Transnet SOC Ltd.

“Trust is at the centre of running a large corporation, especially if you’re in the service industry. You lose your trust with your customers in many ways. You lose your right to serve them and there are many different aspects to that. It is easy to lose and very hard to win trust with customers.”

David Thodey
CEO, Telstra

“It's paramount that we earn sustainable profits. From these we pay taxes to the government and dividends to our shareholders, who in turn pay their own taxes. Ultimately, it’s the clients and shareholders who take the philanthropic initiative. It's not our job to assume state functions or make investments that our shareholders and clients can decide for themselves."

Sergio P. Ermotti
Group Chief Executive Officer, UBS

“The Japanese equivalent to trust, ‘shinrai’, combines belief and dependence, and seems to have strong connotations of being a one-way affair. In contrast, the English word ‘trust’ seems to have interactive connotations. It is important to build up mutually trusting relationships, as the word ‘trust’ implies.”

Hiroo Unoura
President & CEO, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT)

“Investment occurs in competitive economies with an attractive and secure legal system and competitive taxation etc. If all these elements are in place, you’ll attract stable currency, you’ll attract investment and the country will grow and create employment.”

Juan Béjar
CEO, Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC)

“Brazil’s future growth depends on solving issues that are bottlenecks to competitiveness, such as labour reform, tax reform and investments in infrastructure.”

Marcelo Odebrecht
CEO, Odebrecht