Opening Remarks by Dr. Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, at the “Conference on South-South Cooperation in International Tax Matters: Don’t cede your taxing rights by signing a blank cheque”, co-organized with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (27 November 2023)
The Conference is taking place at a time of severe challenges to the global economy and, particularly, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Rising borrowing costs, tight global financial conditions and high debt burdens are constraining the fiscal space of many developing countries. These conditions make domestic resource mobilization through tax collection more important than ever. The taxation of foreign multinational corporations in the digital economy, in particular the Big Tech firms, has now become imperative both for providing much-needed revenues and for levelling the playing field of domestic companies in our countries.
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.
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 South Centre’s Board approved in September 2022 its Programme of Work 2023-2025 where the policy dimensions of digital transformation are highlighted as one of the priority areas for developing countries, including the need to harness digital technologies in education, health and the production of goods and services, support the development of a domestic digital industry, improve their digital infrastructure, advance digital equity and inclusion, effectively tax the digital companies and contribute to shaping the digital governance architecture to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Following the call made in the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations (A/RES/75/1) for improved digital cooperation, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and his report ‘Our Common Future’, the South Centre submits the following written contribution to the UN Secretary General ahead to the Summit of the Future with the objective of providing support to developing countries in the intergovernmental process concerning the digital transformation.
Digital taxation under the OECD Amount A and UN Article 12B mechanisms for market jurisdictions in Africa: a comparative analysis
By Erica Rakotonirina
This Policy Brief examines the need for the evolution and harmonization of international taxation in the face of the digitalization of economic transactions.
Between the OECD proposal for shared taxation of residual profits through the Amount A mechanism and the UN proposal of Article 12B for taxing income from Automated Digital Services on a gross basis through shared but capped taxation, with an optional variant of the taxation of net profits, African States need to make vital political and technical choices.
The strategic negotiations must include regulatory sustainability, the right balance and fiscal fairness between the divergent interests of residence states vs source states (which include almost all African countries), and MNEs in their quest for profit and expansion.
The Policy Brief carries out quantified evaluation of possible revenue estimates using a case study approach. However, such an exercise remains difficult for questions of accessibility and reliability of data relating to the activities of multinational companies.
To be realistic, the scope of the study was restricted to a reference company in the digital sector but targeted economies of different scales. The results of the revenue estimates represent an optimistic case of the impacts on tax revenues of the application of the OECD and UN measures on different types of economies.
These draft provisions are amongst the most controversial aspects of the Pillar One rules, as countries which decide to implement the OECD solution will be expected to give up the use of DSTs and similar measures on all companies, not just those in-scope of Amount A.
Taxing Big Tech: Policy Options for Developing Countries
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sébastien Babou Diasso
Even as the COVID-19 crisis wreaked havoc on the global economy, it gave rise to a small set of winners, namely Big Tech. The increasing prevalence of remote work and an acceleration of the digitalization of the economy allowed Big Tech companies to raise enormous revenues during the pandemic, which in some cases dwarfed the gross domestic product (GDP) of several countries. This policy brief explores the rising untaxed profits of Big Tech in particular, and the digitalized economy in general, and explains why the existing rules are insufficient. It also critically examines the solution that has been devised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of developed countries. Finally, it outlines alternative policy options that are more suitable for developing countries to tax the profits of Big Tech.
Impact of a Minimum Tax Rate under the Pillar Two Solution on Small Island Developing States
By Kuldeep Sharma
The Research Paper commences with an overview of Pillar One and Pillar Two followed by detailed discussions on salient provisions of Pillar Two.
Pillar Two is envisaged to have a widespread impact on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are a distinct group of 38 United Nations (UN) Member States and 20 Non-UN Members/Associate Members of UN regional commissions that are exposed to unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. In all, 36 SIDS that are members of the Group of Seventy-Seven (G-77) have been analysed, namely, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.
¿Una elección difícil? Comparación de los ingresos fiscales que recaudarán los países en vías de desarrollo a partir de los regímenes del Monto A y del Artículo 12B de la Convención Modelo de las Naciones Unidas
Por Vladimir Starkov y Alexis Jin
En este documento de investigación, pretendemos calcular los ingresos tributarios que obtendrán (o perderán) los Estados miembros del South Centre y la Unión Africana con arreglo a los regímenes del Importe A y del Artículo 12B. En nuestro análisis hemos recurrido a fuentes de información disponibles para el personal investigador del sector privado, aunque no ha conllevado el examen de ninguno de los datos que los contribuyentes proporcionan a las autoridades fiscales. Nuestra investigación demuestra que los efectos comparativos en los ingresos obtenidos con los regímenes fiscales del Importe A y el Artículo 12B dependen en gran medida de a) los detalles de diseño del régimen del Artículo 12B; b) si el país es sede de empresas multinacionales que puedan estar dentro del ámbito de aplicación de los regímenes fiscales del Importe A o del Artículo 12B; y c) la desgravación a partir de la doble tributación, de haberla, que conceda el país a los contribuyentes nacionales sujetos al pago de tributos en virtud del régimen del Importe A o del Artículo 12B.
The Progress Report on Amount A, the latest version of the OECD’s proposed solution for taxation of the digitalized economy, makes it clear that the revenues expected for developing countries will dwindle even further than estimated by CODA and the South Centre.
With each successive update of the rules, the proposed solution is becoming increasingly less appealing to the developing countries. The OECD must, at a minimum, release revenue estimates for the 141 jurisdictions of the Inclusive Framework such that each can take an informed decision in the national interest. As an organization that sets ‘transparency’ standards, OECD must itself be transparent and provide countries with the essential information needed for making what may become a historic decision for the international taxation regime.
Two Pillar Solution for Taxing the Digitalized Economy: Policy Implications and Guidance for the Global South
by Irene Ovonji-Odida, Veronica Grondona, Abdul Muheet Chowdhary
The taxation of the digitalized economy is the single most important topic in international tax negotiations today. The OECD has devised a “Two Pillar solution” to the problem. Pillar One is focusing on a reallocation of taxing rights to market jurisdictions, which are largely expected to be developing countries, and Pillar Two is instituting a global minimum tax. The Pillar One solution, known as Amount A, will be codified into a Multilateral Convention (MLC) and is expected to be placed before countries for signature in early 2023. The solution ushers in a new paradigm in the taxation of multinational enterprises but has immense complexity and likely minimal revenue gains for most developing countries. It will also require them to give up the right of unilateral tax measures on all out-of-scope companies, meaning they will only be able to tax the fewer than 100 companies likely to be in-scope, if at all. The decision to sign or not is thus a historic one, as it will lock developing countries into a constricted new framework, at a time when revenue needs are especially critical to recover the economies from COVID-19 in the context of a turbulent state of the global economy.
However, the United Nations too has a solution, known as Article 12B. This operates in a different manner and is a minor modification to the existing decentralized international tax system which is based on bilateral tax treaties, and which developing countries are more familiar with. It is also likely to generate far higher revenues than Amount A, and does not restrict any of their sovereign taxing rights. This Research Paper assesses the various implications for developing countries from adopting the OECD’s or the United Nations’s respective solutions and concludes with a possible global South response to the Two Pillar solution.
Outcomes and Recommendations of the CoDA-South Centre Dialogue Series on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs): Comparing Tax Revenues to Be Raised by Developing Countries from the OECD and UN Solutions for Taxing the Digital Economy