The Role of Tax in the ESG Conversation
How Tax Incentives Can Encourage Sustainable Business Practices
In today’s business environment, it is important to consider the intersection of tax and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues. Companies are increasingly recognizing the need to create a balance between financial performance and sustainability. Understanding how taxes can play a role in that balance is essential. Here are insights on how tax fits into ESG, the core principles of an ESG-focused tax strategy and key considerations for transparent reporting.
First, businesses need to understand the different types of tax incentives related to ESG and how they can be used to meet both financial and sustainability goals. Tax credits and deductions can be used to offset the cost of investments in renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar power. Additionally, businesses can take advantage of tax incentives to encourage employee engagement in sustainability initiatives, such as carbon offsetting or green commuting.
Second, businesses should consider the potential risks and compliance issues associated with integrating ESG into their tax strategy. Businesses will need to ensure that their tax strategy is compliant with local, state, and federal laws. Additionally, businesses should be aware of any potential reputational risks associated with their ESG initiatives, as well as any potential tax liabilities that may arise.
The goal is to demonstrate to stakeholders how the company’s tax governance, control and risk management frameworks are in alignment with ESG values and principles. This can include establishing a risk advisory council, guidelines for including tax in ESG reporting deliverables and any corresponding regulatory requirements and communications to relevant stakeholders on executive oversight activities related to the tax strategy.
Third, businesses should ensure that their tax strategies are in line with their ESG and financial goals. This includes assessing their current tax strategies and making sure they are in alignment with their ESG commitments. Additionally, businesses should consider investing in tax advantaged ESG funds or other investments to help them meet their ESG goals while maintaining financial returns acceptable to their stakeholders.
Aligning the tax function with an overarching ESG strategy across the business is a heavy lift. To build and implement a responsible tax program will take time and requires careful consideration of a company’s overall approach to tax, tax governance and total tax contribution. Each company will have a unique tax strategy based on its business and stakeholder considerations and may be at varying points along its responsible tax journey. The process should be iterative over time and, when implemented successfully, will drive improved decision-making on risk mitigation, strengthen risk awareness and increase transparency and accountability.
Finally, it is important to keep up to date on any changes in the laws and regulations related to the intersection of tax and ESG. As more businesses prioritize ESG initiatives, the laws and regulations surrounding the intersection of tax and ESG are likely to evolve. Companies should stay informed of any changes and adjust their strategies accordingly.
Navigating the intersection of tax and ESG can be a complex process. By understanding the different types of tax incentives related to ESG, assessing potential risks and compliance issues, and keeping up with changing tax regulations and policies, businesses can ensure that their tax strategies are in line with their overall ESG and financial goals. Contact an Adams Brown advisor to learn more.