Leading international accounting and tax consulting network Russell Bedford International has again assisted the World Bank in the compilation of its annual Doing Business project, with 51 member and correspondent firms this year contributing data on tax regulation, compliance and the real tax burden on businesses and entrepreneurs.
This year’s report, Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World, suggests that the emerging economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have done most to reduce the tax burden on companies – in terms of both compliance requirements and the total tax rate – closely followed by the Middle East and North Africa.
The report finds the average total tax rate throughout the world to be 7.4 percentage points lower than seven years ago. “Until 2010/11 reducing profit tax rates was the most common feature of tax reform globally. Economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and OECD high-income economies reduced profit tax rates the most, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa.” With an average total tax rate of 40.5 per cent of profits, companies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are now paying less than the global average of 44.8 percent – and less than the OECD high-income countries’ average of 42.7 per cent.
Reforms in easing the administrative burden are still more striking. While companies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were obliged to make an average 52 tax payments in 2005/6, by 2010/11 this had been reduced to 37. The average time spent in tax compliance in this region is also significantly reduced, down from 448 hours in 2005/6 to 302 in 2010/11.
Companies in the Middle East and North Africa now have a highly competitive total tax rate of 32.2 per cent, with companies in these countries also enjoying the lowest administrative burden, at an average 188 hours per year.
The report also suggests that increasing use of electronic systems and e-government initiatives is delivering genuine benefits to entrepreneurs. “More than 100 economies use electronic systems for services ranging from business registration to customs clearance to court filings,” according to Sylvia Solf, lead author of the report. “This saves time and money for business and government alike. It also provides new opportunities for increasing transparency.”
The report assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 183 economies, ranking each on the basis of various criteria including ease of starting a business, insolvency resolution, cross-border trade and, for the first time, ease of access to electricity. Since 2009 Russell Bedford firms have contributed to the report’s Paying Taxes survey, which examines the regulatory and financial burden of tax compliance on companies worldwide.
Russell Bedford International chairman Geoff Goodyear commented: “This year’s Doing Business report contains some welcome news, particularly for investors in emerging markets. But it remains the case that tax compliance in Latin America and the Caribbean is twice as onerous as in OECD countries. Our member firms in Latin America and other emerging markets remain committed to helping clients deal with this administrative burden.”
Note to Editors
About Russell Bedford International
Established in 1983, Russell Bedford International is a global network of independent firms of accountants, auditors, tax advisers and business consultants.
Ranked amongst the world's leading accounting and audit networks, Russell Bedford is represented by some 460 partners, 5000 staff and 200 offices in more than 80 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
All Russell Bedford affiliates are well-established firms offering international business advice and services to local and multinational clients. Most provide a full range of services comprising accounting, auditing, tax advice, general business guidance and financial consulting. In addition, many have special expertise in particular fields, such as international taxation or information technology.
In January 2008 Russell Bedford International was named one of the first 17 full members of the IFAC Forum of Firms after reporting it had implemented a globally coordinated quality assurance programme, committed to the use of International Standards on Auditing (ISAs), and met other specific ethics requirements.
About the Doing Business report series
Doing Business analyses regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency. The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators and cover 183 economies. Previous years’ rankings are back-calculated to account for the addition of new indicator(s), data corrections, and methodology changes in existing indicators so as to provide a meaningful comparison with the new rankings. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure security, macroeconomic stability, corruption, the level of skills, or the strength of financial systems. Its findings have stimulated policy debates in more than 80 economies and enabled a growing body of research on how firm-level regulation relates to economic outcomes across economies. For more information about the Doing Business report series, please visit www.doingbusiness.org.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.
Russell Bedford International
Russell Bedford House
250 City Road, London EC1V 2QQ
T: +44 (0) 20 7410 0339
F: +44 (0) 20 7459 2337