U.S. corporate lobbying up on OECD anti-tax dodging push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional lobbying activity by major U.S. corporations is on the rise over an anti-corporate tax dodging campaign being steered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based grouping of large economies.

The OECD will hold a two-day conference next week in Washington on its "Base Erosion and Profit Shifting," project, at a time when companies such as Pfizer Inc PFE.N have disclosed being active in congressional lobbying on BEPS.

BEPS got started in 2012 in discussions among European and U.S. leaders about multinationals not paying their fair share of taxes and governments’ corporate tax bases being undermined.

Formalized last year, BEPS calls for revising tax treaties, tightening rules on cross-border asset and capital movement pricing, and more government tax information sharing.

The program has no force in law, but as other OECD projects seek to do, it is meant to guide future government policies.

“There is bipartisan agreement that international corporate tax reform must include strong measures to address BEPS,” Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said in a statement to Reuters.

Like Pfizer, rival drugmaker Merck & Co MRK.N and medical technology group Boston Scientific Corp BSX.N have been lobbying this year on BEPS, U.S. Senate filings showed.

At least eight companies, including Starbucks Corp SBUX.O, PepsiCo Inc PEP.N and DuPont Co DD.N disclosed lobbying on BEPS last year, up from at least three companies in 2012.

"This whole BEPS thing is an explosion and the mushroom cloud is still on the way up," said Mark Nebergall, president of the Software Finance and Tax Executives Council, which represents tech firms like Microsoft Corp MSFT.O. Filings showed the council lobbied on BEPS in early 2014.

Most of the companies contacted declined to comment. A spokesman for Starbucks said its BEPS lobbying work did not advocate for any specific proposals.

“These were meetings with lawmakers to educate congressional staff and U.S. tax policymakers on the structure of our global retail business,” Starbucks spokesman Corey duBrowa said in a statement.

The Senate filings examined by Reuters do not report how much money companies spent on the BEPS issue. The OECD project was expected to be finalized it by the end of 2015.

At the conference next week, officials are expected to debate:

Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and G Crosse