Chevron Australia and Tax Justice Network: a case of rhetoric
Pacific Accounting Review
Purpose: This paper aims to use rhetorical theory to understand how actors mobilise persuasive communication to justify the arguments for and against transfer pricing and tax management schemes in an international context. The strategic adoption of transfer pricing by transnational corporations is controversial since it affects wealth transfers. Design/methodology/approach: This paper adopts a micro-rhetorical analysis of submissions to a recent government Inquiry in Australia based on Aristotle's appeals of logos, ethos and pathos. The arguments used by Chevron Australia, and its protagonist civil society organisation, the Tax Justice Network highlight the vexed nature of tax management schemes. Findings: Transfer pricing (TP) is more than a mere technical practice, as it involves wealth transfers initiated by powerful economic players. From a neoliberal justification of fair markets and shareholder wealth maximisation, the moral ambiguity is attenuated because it is accepted as a normative social ideal. Originality/value: Prior studies on TP and tax schemes are primarily theoretical and conceptual. This paper adopts a rhetorical approach which provides important insights into the communication devices used to legitimate taken-for-granted ideas about corporate actions.
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