Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stewart on the G20 and the taxing issue of making big business pay

Professor Miranda Stewart has published a short article today in which she nicely sums up the G20 agenda for 2014: base erosion & profit shifting, thin capitalization and transparency/information exchange. She concludes with some of the challenges for reform:
The G20 ... says that fixing global tax regulation is key to fighting poverty. A 2012 UN General Assembly Resolution 66/191 calls on the international community to develop effective international company tax rules and to increase participation of developing countries in tax policy processes. But ... it is only recently that OECD member countries have begun to acknowledge that their own tax rules and harmful tax competition are making it more difficult for developing countries to raise adequate taxes. 
There may be some tensions in the G20 about how to reform our fundamental international tax principles for the future. The OECD BEPS project mostly aims to protect the residence basis of taxation for multinationals. This will help prevent corporate tax base erosion for rich, capital and intellectual property-exporting countries. Current OECD profit shifting rules, which emphasise the arm’s length transfer pricing principle, can be strengthened. But these current rules for allocation of the right to tax business profits between countries are under attack from capital importing countries who seek to protect and enhance source taxation of business activity.
India, South Africa, Brazil and China may benefit more from a “formulary apportionment” approach, which has also been called for by activist organisations such as Oxfam and Christian Aid. We might begin to see cracks in the G20 on these fundamental international tax principles in 2014.
A nice overview of what to look for from the G20 in 2014.

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