Tax Haven Listing in Multiple Hues: Blind, Winking or Conniving?
Tax havens are among the biggest challenges faced by developing countries in achieving their national development goals. States, international organisations, multilateral agencies and non-governmental organisations have all made several efforts at compiling ‘lists’ of tax havens at the multilateral and national levels, with varying levels of seriousness and outcomes. This research paper examines these efforts by analysing the objectivity of criteria used and the clarity of the final outcome in a comparative manner. The paper is organized into four sections dealing with the tax haven blacklisting by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the countries of the South, the European Union (EU) and an analysis across lists. The concluding section offers some suggestions.
Developing Countries and the Contemporary International Tax System: BEPS and other issues
This policy brief addresses the design of international taxation and tax cooperation in the context of issues presented in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/Group of Twenty (G20) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)Project. It further considers their significance for developing countries and provides the Brazilian approach to those issues. The brief concludes by exploring the importance of regional cooperation vis-à-vis international organizations and highlights relevant considerations for developing countries engaging with the contemporary international tax system.
Illicit Financial Flows: Conceptual and Practical Issues
The issue of illicit financial flows (IFFs) is of great significance for many countries looking to mobilize domestic resources for achieving their development goals. The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, brought the issue into the global spotlight, notably since the release of exposés like the ‘Panama Papers’. This policy brief elaborates on the conceptual underpinnings of IFFs, its sources and the development costs they generate. Building on the report of the High Level Panel, it provides recommendations to stem IFFs from developing countries.
The Definition and Treatment of Tax Havens in Brazilian Tax Law between 1995 and 2015
Over the years, a number of ‘tax haven lists’ have been created at the national and international level, with varying definitions and criteria used to identify jurisdictions falling under their scope. This policy brief presents the experience of Brazil in compiling their national list of tax havens, the road map they followed for its implementation, and the impact that it has had on their foreign investment flows. It also provides the lessons learnt from this experience, which can be positively utilized by other developing countries.
Stemming ‘Commercial’ Illicit Financial Flows & Developing Country Innovations in the Global Tax Reform Agenda
Illicit Financial Flows generated due to the commercial activities of multinational enterprises are quantitatively the most important challenge faced by developing countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Current efforts for stemming these illicit flows and reforming the international tax system are however being led by developed countries, with developing country interests poorly reflected in the reform agenda. This research paper highlights the tax issues of great priority for developing countries and how international tax cooperation can contribute to preventing such illicit flows.
The Causes of Currency Turmoil in the Emerging Economies
Many emerging economies and developing countries are facing strong economic headwinds. Currency depreciation pressure is mounting for some countries. Argentina and Turkey are coping with currency crises, massive capital outflows and hyperinflation. To say their crises are completely self-inflicted is not correct. The exogenous shocks have played an important role. Other emerging economies and developing countries as a whole should be vigilant and try to defend their currencies and maintain financial stability. It is also high time to try to fix the flaws in the international financial system.
Exchange of Information: Indian Experience, Developing Country Implications
Exchange of tax-related information between countries is a critical tool for addressing information asymmetries between governments and taxpayers that facilitate tax evasion/avoidance. However, the existing system of information exchange has been essentially designed and implemented by the OECD, without the participation of developing countries. This policy brief thus discusses India’s experience with implementing information exchange for tax and other purposes, with lessons being drawn for other developing countries grappling with base erosion and profit shifting.
Interaction of Transfer Pricing & Profit Attribution: Conceptual and Policy Issues for Developing Countries
Till 2010, model tax conventions treated profit attribution to permanent establishments and transfer pricing under different articles, and profit attribution under Article 7 allowed sales to be taken into account both in the direct accounting method as well as the indirect apportionment method. However, the revised Article 7 in the 2010 update of the OECD Convention approximated profit attribution with transfer pricing and omitted the option of apportionment, thereby undermining sales and contributions made by market jurisdiction to business profits. When a tax treaty retains Article 7 based on the UN Convention or the earlier OECD Convention, Contracting States can take sales into account and also opt for apportionment. Developing countries need to fully understand these implications of Article 7 in their tax treaties, and opt for informed choices for transfer pricing and profit attribution to permanent establishments, including apportionment that takes sales into account.
Collaboration or Co-optation? A review of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax
The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT), launched in April 2016, is an effort to intensify cooperation on tax issues among the staff of the OECD, IMF, World Bank and the United Nations. The PCT’s stated objectives include the production of joint outputs, strengthening interactions between standard setting, capacity building and technical assistance and sharing information. PCT has since produced toolkits on issues such as tax incentives, transfer pricing, and taxation of offshore indirect transfers. The PCT also held its first global conference in February 2018 at the UN where a concluding ‘conference statement’, negotiated among the four secretariats, was produced.
Renewed crises in emerging economies and the IMF ‒ Muddling through again?
As recognised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global financial safety net including international reserves, Fund resources, bilateral swap arrangements, regional financing arrangements is “fragmented with uneven coverage” and “too costly, unreliable and conducive to moral hazard”. Given the aversion of emerging economies to the IMF and unilateral debt standstills and exchange controls, the next crisis is likely to be even messier than the previous ones. Some countries may seek and succeed in getting bilateral support from China or some reserve-currency countries according to their political stance and affiliation. In such cases, crisis intervention would become even more politicised than in the past and a lot less reliant on multilateral arrangements. By failing to establish an orderly and equitable system of crisis resolution, the IMF may very well find its role significantly diminished in the management of the next bout of crises in emerging economies. In other words, multilateralism, however imperfect, could face another blow in the sphere of finance after trade.