SOUTH CENTRE-WATAF JOINT SPECIAL TECHNICAL SESSION ON THE OECD TWO PILLAR SOLUTION
(JULY 4-5 2023)
The South Centre and the West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) successfully organised a two-day special session in Abuja, Nigeria, from 4-5 July, 2023, aimed at enhancing the understanding of WATAF and South Centre member countries on the draft rules of the OECD Two Pillar solution to taxation of the digitalised economy. The session brought together officials responsible for tax policy, legislation, and administration, along with experts representing African and Latin American countries in the OECD Inclusive Framework Steering Group.
The GloBE Rules: Challenges for Developing Countries and Smart Policy Options to Protect Their Tax Base
By Emmanuel Eze, Sol Picciotto, Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Bob Michel and Tommaso Faccio
The OECD global minimum tax of 15%, known as the Global Anti-Base Erosion (GloBE) Rules, have meant that developing countries need to consider what policy responses to take to ensure they collect the minimum tax and not cede it to developed countries. One option being promoted by the OECD is the “Qualified Domestic Minimum Top Up Tax” (QDMTT), with the claim that it will help developing countries collect the minimum tax of 15%. This Policy Brief points out that under the QDMTT MNEs can still pay zero taxes, it does not guarantee tax collection, it is complex to administer, it curtails national sovereignty in the form of the “peer review” mechanism and it is relevant mainly for tax havens which are destinations of profit shifting. The Brief then outlines policy options relevant for developing countries, namely Alternative Minimum Taxes (AMTs) and reform of tax incentives.
The 1944 “Bretton Woods Agreement” gave birth to the new international financial system marked by the centrality of the US dollar which is a crucial pillar of the global power of the United States. Over the past eight decades, the asymmetry of the shrinking US economic weight in the world economy and growing dominant role of the dollar has become more and more glaring. The disadvantages of overreliance on the dollar have been keenly felt, especially by developing countries. The recent moves to weaponize the dollar and the payment clearance system have triggered another wave of reassessment by national states and enterprises of the role of the dollar and led to the hitherto most broad-based de-dollarization process covering from Southeast Asia to Latin America and the Middle East. De-dollarization has been incrementally taking place in different forms and led by BRICS and some commodity exporting countries. However, there are many challenges to meaningful de-dollarization. Overall, de-dollarization efforts, despite important progress, have been limited and partial. There has been progress in reducing overreliance on the dollar through foreign exchange reserve diversification and trade invoicing as evidenced by the decline in the dollar’s share of allocated foreign exchange reserves and the increase of trade invoiced and transacted in currencies other than the dollar. However, on aspects requiring the deep financial market and wide network such as foreign exchange transactions, issuance of debt and payment clearance, the dollar’s share has not suffered a decline. To reform the international financial system, the BRICS in particular should continue to take the lead in furthering the de-dollarization efforts.
TAXING MULTINATIONALS: THE BEPS PROPOSALS AND ALTERNATIVES
BEPS Monitoring Group, 6 July 2023
This briefing by the BEPS Monitoring Group (BMG) analyses the outcomes of the latest phase of the G20/OECD project on base erosion and profit shifting, and outlines options and alternatives, especially for developing countries. The BMG is a network of experts on various aspects of international tax, set up by a number of civil society organizations which research and campaign for tax justice including the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Red de Justicia Fiscal de America Latina y el Caribe, Tax Justice Network, Christian Aid, Action Aid, Oxfam, and Tax Research UK. This report has not been approved in advance by these organizations, which do not necessarily accept every detail or specific point made here, but they support the work of the BMG and endorse its general perspectives. It is based on previous reports, and has been drafted by South Centre’s Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Alex Cobham, Emmanuel Eze, Tommaso Faccio, Jeffery Kadet, Bob Michel, and Sol Picciotto.
Statement by the South Centre on the Two Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy
28 July 2023
The South Centre takes note of the Outcome Statement by 138 member jurisdictions of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework (IF) made on 11 July 2023, on the Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy. In this statement the South Centre highlights the inclusion of rules that have the practical effect of reducing the tax payable to developing countries under Amount A, the limitations of Pillar Two and other key aspects of the OECD proposed rules that require attention by developing countries before they decide to be tied up by such rules.
COVID-19 impacted humanity in many ways and one such impact is wide acceptance of the concept of Work From Home (WFH) by the corporate sector. Previously, WFH did exist in some countries, perhaps at a much smaller scale, but compulsions of COVID-19 have made WFH a new normal. This new normal also creates new tax challenges for the Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). Does the employee create a taxable presence in the countries where they are working remotely through a ”permanent establishment” and if yes what are the profits attributable to such permanent establishment?
The existing treaty provisions are likely to result in widespread litigation on these issues. It is desirable that a new provision is introduced in the tax treaties to tackle these issues. The suggested remote worker permanent establishment provision adopts a very simple measurable threshold for determination of permanent establishment and also attempts to balance taxing rights of the country of source as well as residence. A simple standardised approach could be adopted for determining the profits attributable to such permanent establishment.
Implementing wealth tax and wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Khanyisa Mbalati
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most unequal places in the world, with significant levels of social, gender, and income inequality. Several countries in the region have a tax structure that is heavily weighted towards consumption taxes, which can be regressive and inflict a significant burden on those with low and middle incomes. Implementing progressive tax systems, whereby those with higher earnings pay a larger share in taxes, is one way through which governments might optimize the impact of tax revenue on reducing inequality. The adoption of a wealth tax may facilitate wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan African nations and could help bridge the inequality gap in the region. High statutory wealth tax rates of between 5-8% are needed in order to have an effective tax rate of 3-5%.
Taxation of Digital Services: what hope for the African States?
By ADJEYI Kodzo Senyo, KOUEVI Tsotso and AMAGLO Kokou Essegbe
Globalization makes it necessary to adapt multinational taxation by taking into account the place of use or consumption of goods and services. “Pillar 1” of the OECD aims to allow States in which multinationals market products or services, or collect data and content from users, to benefit from a portion of their residual consolidated worldwide profit. Since residual profit is a function of the turnover and profit achieved in the jurisdiction, this solution can only be an advantage if, beyond the rules of fair taxation, efforts are made to promote the use of digital services. Internet access is one of the levers that can increase the consumption of digital services. The current situation in Africa according to statistics published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows low rates of internet access compared to other continents.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Process – An Opportunity for a Paradigm Shift
By Kuldeep Sharma and Raunicka Sharma
Efforts are underway to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation so that the current tax structures consider the equitable interests of developing countries. This is necessitated as a section of developing countries has lost confidence in the OECD and there is a lingering doubt whether OECD has developing countries’ best and equitable interests in mind. As a result, the United Nations General Assembly has launched intergovernmental talks to enhance international tax cooperation and draft a UN Tax Convention that aims to establish inclusive norms for transparency and tax cooperation, that leads to development of an acceptable and frictionless worldwide tax policy.
UN Model Tax Convention Article 26: Inequitable Exchange of Information Regime – Questionable Efficacy in Asymmetrical Bilateral Settings
By Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed
The United Nations Model Tax Convention between Developed and Developing Countries (UN MTC) Article 26 charts out an exchange of information (EOI) regime “between developed and developing countries,” feigning that it is more favorable to the latter set of nations. Contrarily, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) MTC Article 26 is professedly geared to protect and promote interests of OECD members – “the club of the rich.” Even a cursory comparative look at the two MTCs intriguingly reveals lack of dissimilarities, and irresistibly leads to the conclusion that materially both provisions are identical. The situation gives rise to a paradox whereby developing countries that are completely at different levels of development have broken governance structures, convoluted fiscal and criminal justice systems and struggling tax administrations, have been yoked into a multilayered EOI regime, which stemmed from an intra-OECD statecraft imperative and is pre-dominantly beneficial to developed countries. The new normal contributes towards enhancement and deepening of the embedded inequities in the neocolonial economic order. The paper seminally dissects the strains generated by absence of dissimilarities between the two MTCs vis-à-vis Article 26, and posits that, in fact, this fundamentally being a developed country project, developing countries have been exploited as ‘beasts of burden’ merely to promote economic interests of dominant partners in the relationship, and by doing so, sheds light on and galvanizes the unjustness latent in the international taxes system – an inherently unequal and lopsided affair. It also delves deeper into an axiological normative evaluation of the extant EOI regime, and finding it untenable, urges a larger paradigm shift. In fact, the UN’s meek convergence with the OECD on EOI regime, ditching developing countries and leaving them to fend for themselves in this critical area of international taxation, is the scarlet thread of the paper.
Global Minimum Taxation of Multinationals: Opportunities and risks for some African States
By AMAGLO Kokou Essegbe, KOUEVI Tsotso and ADJEYI Kodzo Senyo
To face the challenges posed by the digitization of the economy, the OECD’s Inclusive Framework has developed two Pillars to address tax base erosion and profit shifting. The objective of Pillar Two is to define the minimum amount of tax to be paid by multinational enterprises in the jurisdictions where they operate. The OECD’s Inclusive Framework has adopted an average effective rate of 15% for this purpose. The objective of this study is to show whether the implementation of Pillar Two in African jurisdictions constitutes an opportunity or a risk for them.
The results show that it is an opportunity for countries with a low effective tax rate and a risk for countries with a high effective tax rate. Therefore, setting a 15% income tax rate for non-resident multinationals is an opportunity for some African countries. For it would constitute for these countries a source of additional tax revenue mobilization. For this reform to be an opportunity for Africa, however, the minimum effective tax rate must be raised to at least 20%, as was demanded by the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
The risk that lies in the application of an effective rate of 15% for Africa as a whole is that some African countries might have to reduce their effective tax rate. This would be a loss of revenue for those African countries. Since most countries in the African jurisdiction have effective tax rates and statutory corporate income tax rates that are more than 20 percent, above the set average effective rate, multinationals would seek to shift their profits to the countries with the most advantageous taxation. This could lead to a transfer of profits to other jurisdictions.
STATEMENT BY DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MINISTERS AND GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF TWENTY-FOUR (G-24)
11 April 2023, Washington, D.C.
Solidarity and international cooperation is needed now more than ever to address the multiple challenges that disproportionately affect developing countries. See the South Centre’s statement to the G-24.