Media Scrutiny Changes Approach to Tax Planning, Not Substance

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Feb. 27 — Intense media focus and political controversy surrounding international tax structures hasn't changed the substance of tax planning, several corporate tax directors said—but it has changed how they approach it.

“Would I say that has affected the types of tax planning that we have engaged in? No, I don't think it has,” said Patrick Brown, a senior executive in tax at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. But, he added, the attention “certainly has affected the level of discussion around tax planning within the company. Which, by the way, I don't regard as a wholly bad thing. I don't think it's a bad thing at all.”

Brown spoke Feb. 26 during a wide-ranging panel discussion entitled “Corporate Tax VPs: What Keeps Them Awake At Night?” during the annual conference of the International Fiscal Association's USA Branch in Washington.