Multinational Enterprises (MNEs)

SouthViews No. 230, 25 November 2021

The Place of Multilateralism in Tax Reforms: Exclusionary Outcomes of a Purported Inclusive Framework

By Alexander Ezenagu

Countries have come to accept the wide application of international tax rules in both their domestic and international tax affairs. However, where international tax rules fall short of the legitimate expectations of countries and fail to provide necessary guidance, countries may be compelled to seek other sources of guidance. In this paper, it is argued that in the absence and failure of international tax rules to provide adequate guidance and encourage a fair tax system, countries should not be prohibited from exercising their fiscal sovereignty.

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Report on International Taxation from Global South Perspectives, October 2021

International Taxation from Global South Perspectives

By Badr Mandri, Sebastien Babou Diasso, and Aaditri Solankii

South Centre (SC) in collaboration with the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS) organized on October 13, 2021, a webinar on the issue of International Taxation from the Global South perspectives.

Tax revenue mobilization plays a key role in financing the economic and social development of countries. When well designed and implemented, tax policy can help developing countries raise revenue and increase their spending, especially in the social sector. Indeed, tax revenue as a share of GDP represent only 15% to 20% in low and middle-income countries, because of obstacles such as the imbalanced and complex international standards designed for developed countries, and the difficulties in collecting taxes in developing countries.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 20, October 2021

Making the UN Tax Committee’s Subcommittees More Effective for Developing Countries

By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Sebastien Babou Diasso, and Aaditri Solankii

New United Nations (UN) Tax Committee Members have been appointed by the UN Secretary-General and among them 13 out of 25 are from developing countries. The Committee sets international tax standards, vital for financing for development, and works mainly through its Subcommittees. However, an unhealthy trend over time has been the disproportionate involvement of business representatives in the Subcommittees, which can be harmful for promoting the interests of developing countries. This policy brief examines this trend and outlines some of the tools available to developing countries to promote their interests in the Subcommittees.

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Statement, 13 October 2021

Statement by the South Centre on the Two Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy

The South Centre takes note of the Statement by 136 member jurisdictions of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework (IF) made on 8 October 2021, on a two-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. The broad architecture of the agreement is now in place and it is clear to developing countries what they can expect from it.

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Statement, October 2021

STATEMENT BY DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MINISTERS AND GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF TWENTY-FOUR (G24)

The world economy is showing signs of recovery, yet very uneven, and is facing a multitude of challenges including rising inequality within and among countries, vaccine nationalism in the face of raging COVID-19 variants, escalated debt burden for many developing countries, ravages of climate change and weakening multilateralism.

Now, we are at a pivotal moment to mend and fix the global systemic problems so that we can recover better, greener, more inclusively, and more resiliently. It is time to address root causes of the fragility, instability, divergence and asymmetries of the global economy.

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SC & PCNS Conference, 13 October 2021

Conference: International Taxation from Global South Perspectives 

In Partnership with The Policy Center for the New South

Wednesday 13 October 2021 15h00 – 16h30 GMT+1 Live-Stream (YouTube, Facebook, Live Tweet)

The key questions that will be discussed in this event will be:

  • What reforms are needed to international standards that can strengthen the capacity of governments to raise revenue from MNEs without discouraging economic activity?
  • What is the cost of tax havens for developing countries and what role can international cooperation play in dealing with this issue?
  • What might the future of tax reform look like in the post-COVID-19 era, given the growing digitalization of the economy?

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 19, October 2021

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.

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SouthViews No. 227, 29 September 2021

Ending Extreme Poverty by Ending Global Tax Avoidance                                            

by Abdul Muheet Chowdhary

The world is estimated to lose around USD 500-600 billion in revenues from corporate tax avoidance each year. Ensuring that governments can collect this revenue through ending global tax avoidance will play a major role in ending extreme poverty. Overseas aid provided to developing countries focused on eliminating extreme poverty must therefore incorporate addressing tax avoidance, especially by Multinational Enterprises, as a core component of their efforts.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 18, September 2021

Combatting Tax Treaty Abuse: Tools available under the BEPS Multilateral Instrument

 By Kuldeep Sharma, ADIT (CIOT,UK)

The anxiety of taxpayers, consultants and advisors over the consistent application of Principal Purpose Test (PPT) provisions in tax treaties can now be put to rest as tax authorities are expected to consistently read the PPT provisions in conjunction with the preamble, i.e. the key to application of PPT provisions lies in the preamble of the treaty itself. This follows on taking a leaf out of the Preamble to the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (MLI), Vienna Convention, Commentaries on PPT in the respective Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations (UN) Model Tax Convention (MTC), 2017 and Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) instructions on PPT which abundantly highlight on conjoint application of the preamble in the course of invocation of PPT provisions. Now, the entire focus of extending treaty benefits has shifted to undertaking bonafide transactions and preventing double taxation as against a tendency of securing tax savings through tax avoidance. Therefore, PPT as read with the preamble can clearly be invoked to combat treaty-shopping arrangements, abusive tax planning and abusive tax avoidance arrangements or transactions. At the same time, tax authorities in any part of the world may not be inclined to invoke PPT as read with the preamble in respect of any arrangement or transaction when taxpayers are able to discharge their onus establishing that (below mentioned conditions to be satisfied in tandem):

– genuine business and commercial reasons for a transaction exist;

– a purpose for the transaction cannot be ascribed to non-taxation or reduced taxation through tax evasion or tax avoidance;

– despite no tax advantages, the transaction would be carried out exactly in the same way; and

– it cannot reasonably be considered that one of the principal purposes of the arrangement or transaction is to obtain treaty benefits and that the object and purpose of the treaty is getting defeated.

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Contribution on Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the EconomyAugust 2021

Comments on the Statement on a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy

The BEPS Monitoring Group, 31 July 2021

On 1 July 2021 a statement was issued by the OECD outlining the agreement reached through the Inclusive Framework of the OECD/G20 base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project. These comments by the BEPS Monitoring Group (BMG) aim to contribute to a wider public understanding of the issues involved. 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 Sol Picciotto with comments and contributions by Abdul Muheet Chowdhary (Senior Programme Officer, South Centre Tax Initiative), Jeffery Kadet, Annet Oguttu, Sudarshan Rangan, Attiya Waris, and Francis Weyzig.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 17, July 2021

An Albatross Around the Neck of Developing Nations – MFN Clause in Tax Treaties

By Deepak Kapoor, IRS

The Most Favoured Nation (“MFN”) clause in double taxation avoidance conventions epitomises the basic principle of non-discrimination and intends to bring parity in business and investment opportunities among treaty partner countries and jurisdictions. Inclusion of provisions like MFN and non-discrimination clauses in tax treaties are intended to promote equity among treaty partners. In the context of tax treaties between developed and developing countries, the MFN clauses also act as negotiating tools to bargain for better treaty tax rates.

However, lately these clauses have started demonstrating disadvantageous effects for the source countries, which are mostly developing countries. The MFN clauses generally do not appear to be creating potential risks if they are operational between two equally developed countries but when the relationship is between a developed and developing country, where one partner receives more investments from the other than it makes, such risks are inevitable. Lately, problems have started arising due to various interpretations of the MFN clauses by the courts forcing the source countries to extend benefits of reduced rates and restricted scope to treaty partner countries under the MFN rules. Such beneficial interpretations have gone beyond the basic objective and purpose of the MFN clauses.

In light of recent court cases in South Africa and India, it appears that the MFN clauses are creating opportunities for “reduced taxation” and leading to unintended erosion of tax base of source countries. The problem also lies with the ambiguous drafting and formulations of the MFN clauses, which eventually leads to unexpected negative outcomes for countries who have bound themselves with the future commitments. Therefore, a comprehensive review of existing MFN clauses in tax treaties, their cross connections and possible negative spill over effects to other treaties is the urgent need of the hour for the source jurisdictions.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 16, July 2021

Article 12B – A tax treaty solution by the UN Tax Committee for taxing digital incomes

By Rajat Bansal

Taxation of income of multinational enterprises engaged in digitalised businesses by source or market jurisdictions is currently the most important challenge before the international tax community. The current membership of the United Nations Tax Committee in April 2021 finalised a tax treaty solution to address this challenge. This brief explains the rationale for coming up with a particular solution of inserting a new Article in the United Nations Model Tax Convention, its merits and how it can be beneficial for all countries, especially the developing ones.

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