Group of 7 (G-7)
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.
Mejora la regla del nexo para una distribución justa de derechos fiscales a países en vías de desarrollo
Por Radhakishan Rawal
Uno de los problemas abiertos para Pilar Uno en el debate de la tributación de la economía digital es el umbral del Nexo, que determinaría qué Empresas multinacionales (MNE) tienen una presencia tributable. Las economías muy desarrolladas o las economías más pequeñas en vías de desarrollo pueden verse privadas de derechos fiscales como resultado de umbrales de nexo como son descritos en la propuesta de Pilar Uno. Asimismo, inclusive cuando se adoptan umbrales más pequeños, a algunos países aún se les puede denegar derechos fiscales. El umbral financiero nunca fue un parámetro de distribución de derechos fiscales entre los países. Un ligero ajuste del proceso de certeza impositiva podría abordar el problema.
Este artículo recomienda otorgar el derecho fiscal por Monto A de Pilar Uno, que abarca la porción principal de ganancias tributables de la economía digital, a todas las jurisdicciones del mercado, pero otorgar derechos relacionados con las jurisdicciones impositivas afectadas solo a aquellos países que cumplen con los umbrales de Nexo. Este enfoque resultará en una distribución justa de derechos fiscales y también garantizará que no haya una carga adicional en el proceso de certeza impositiva, que será más sencillo para países en vías de desarrollo.
Améliorer des règles du nexus pour une répartition équitable des droits d’imposition pour les pays en développement
Par Radhakishan Rawal
L’une des questions posées dans le Premier Pilier sur les discussions sur l’imposition de l’économie numérique est le seuil du nexus, c’est-à-dire le lien de rattachement au pays, qui déterminerait quelles entreprises multinationales (EMN) ont une présence imposable. Les grandes économies développées ainsi que les petites économies en développement peuvent être privées de droits d’imposition en raison des seuils des nexus tels que décrits actuellement dans la proposition du Premier Pilier. De plus, même si des seuils plus petits sont adoptés, certains pays peuvent encore se voir refuser des droits d’imposition. Un seuil financier n’a jamais été un paramètre de répartition des droits d’imposition entre les pays. Un ajustement mineur dans le processus de certitude fiscale pourrait résoudre le problème.
Cet article préconise d’accorder le droit d’imposition sur le montant A du Premier Pilier, qui couvre la portion principale des bénéfices imposables de l’économie numérique, à toutes les juridictions du marché, mais d’accorder les droits destinés aux juridictions fiscales concernées uniquement aux pays atteignant les seuils du nexus. Cette approche se traduira par une répartition équitable des droits d’imposition et garantira également qu’il n’y ait pas de charge supplémentaire dans le processus de la certitude fiscale, ce qui sera plus facile pour les pays en développement.
Streamlining the Architecture of International Tax through a UN Framework Convention on Tax Cooperation
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sol Picciotto
The architecture of international taxation at present is fragmented among multiple institutions. The UN Tax Committee, the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes are some of the key institutions which set multiple and overlapping international tax standards. The lack of a genuinely global international tax body has long been a lacunae in the international economic system and a disadvantage for developing countries, who are unable to participate in international tax standard setting as full and equal participants. This has been borne out most recently by the Two Pillar Solution for taxing the digital economy that has come from the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework. The G-77’s renewed demand for a global tax body shows the issue continues to remain a priority for developing countries.
This Policy Brief provides a way for bringing the existing plethora of institutions under unified, universal and democratic control through a UN Framework Convention on Tax Cooperation (UN FCTC). This idea builds on the long-standing idea of a UN Tax Convention, which has also been recommended by the UN FACTI Panel. A UN FCTC would function similarly to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC), through a Conference of Parties (COP) which would give the existing institutions such as the UN Tax Committee and Inclusive Framework mandates to work on. In this regard, it would replace the narrow mandates of the OECD and G20 with mandates coming from all the Parties to the UN FCTC, which could be all countries, both developed and developing. A UN FCTC thus provides a practical and realistic way forward for a genuinely universal, intergovernmental framework for international tax rule making under the auspices of the United Nations.
Developing Country Demands for an Equitable Digital Tax Solution
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary
The taxation of the digitalized economy is the foremost challenge in international taxation today. Countries around the world, especially developing countries, are struggling with taxing the rising profits of major tech giants which operate on entirely new business models that have made traditional international tax rules obsolete. A “Two Pillar solution” is being negotiated in the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS that seeks to update these rules, re-allocate taxing rights and establish a global minimum tax. However, as it stands, the solution has very limited tax revenue benefits for developing countries and is administratively complex. For the solution to be durable, it must be equitable, and accordingly must incorporate the concerns of developing countries going forward.
By Prof. Ujal Singh Bhatia
The author posits that the global public health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the economic and distributional aspects of vaccines and treatments, involves a market failure without the underlying institutional safety nets for an effective, globally coordinated response. He proposes strong, self-standing institutions with clear mandates and resources to make effective interventions at three levels: political, financial and regulatory. Also, the WTO rules regarding export restrictions are at present too accommodative to allow for a quick response. For Intellectual Property, both manufacturing and licensing, and relaxation of IP rules should be considered.
Vaccination inequalities and the role of the multilateral system
By Carlos M. Correa
The COVID-19 crisis has evidenced the fragility of the multilateral system to address a global health challenge. There are multiple reasons behind it. Since donations are not enough, a global solution to the pandemic would have required concerted actions in several fronts. The author suggests that, while examining how the proposed “pandemic treaty” might contribute to a global solution in future health emergencies, immediate actions are needed.
Improve nexus rule for fair distribution of taxing rights to developing countries
By Radhakishan Rawal
One of the open issues for Pillar One in the discussion on the taxation of the digital economy is the nexus threshold, which would determine which Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) have a taxable presence. Big developed economies or smaller developing economies both may be deprived of taxing rights as a result of nexus thresholds as presently described in the Pillar One proposal. Further, even where smaller thresholds are adopted, some countries may still be denied taxing rights. Financial threshold was never a parameter of distributing taxing rights between the countries. A minor tweaking of the tax certainty process could address the issue.
This article recommends giving the taxing right over Amount A of Pillar One, which covers the main portion of taxable profits from the digital economy to all the market jurisdictions, but to give rights related to affected tax jurisdictions only to those countries meeting the nexus thresholds. This approach will result in a fair distribution of taxing rights and will also ensure that there is no additional burden on the tax certainty process, which will be easier for developing countries.
Systemic reform of the international debt architecture is yet to start
By Yuefen Li
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the reform of the international debt architecture to the policy agenda. Up to now policy measures to address the crushing debt burden of developing countries have focused on boosting time bound liquidity provision, which is insufficient in amount and restrictive in scope as debt-ridden and pandemic struck middle-income countries have not been covered. Even the implementation of these policy measures has been hindered by existing systemic problems. The reform of the debt architecture is yet to start. However, complacency seems to emerge. The risk of “wasting” the crisis should be avoided.
The State of Play of Climate Finance – UNFCCC Funds and the $100 Billion Question
By Mariama Williams; editing support and data by Rajesh Eralil
Climate finance is key to achieving the ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement as well as in fulfilling the climate actions that developing countries have proposed to implement in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the key vehicles for implementing the agreement reached in Paris in 2015. However, there is much concern that the current flow of finance is inadequate to meet the expectations surrounding both the NDCs and the Paris Agreement. This brief presents quick snapshots of the state of play of climate finance of one dimension of the broad, complex and increasingly fragmented universe of climate finance. It focuses on the flow of climate finance that can be monitored and tracked under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the context of the developed countries’ collective goal of mobilizing US $100 billion annually to support developing countries’ climate actions. The issues on both the demand and supply side of climate finance flows are explored, with specific attention to the ebb and flows and achievements of the multilateral public funds. After highlighting some of the more serious challenges with the flow of climate finance, the brief ends with an overview of the key negotiating issues around future climate finance flows.