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.
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.
Enforcing Secondary Taxing Rights: Subject to Tax Rule in the UN Model Tax Convention
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sebastien Babou Diasso
The Global Anti Base Erosion (GloBE) Rules under OECD’s Pillar Two recommendations, with a minimum effective tax rate of 15%, are expected to play a significant role to end the ‘race to the bottom’ in corporate taxation, which is one of the main drivers of profit shifting. However, the thrust of these rules is designed in a manner to give priority to the developed countries. In this light, the Subject to Tax Rule (STTR), which is a treaty-based rule that allows source jurisdictions to impose limited source taxation on certain payments that are taxed below a minimum rate in the country of residence, is of extreme significance for the developing countries. Under Pillar Two, application of STTR is restricted to base eroding payments or mobile income between related parties only, which does not address Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) concerns in an entirety. That apart, the withholding tax rate of 9% proposed by the OECD may not result in generation of significant resources for the developing countries. In this light, developing countries keenly expect that the UN Tax Committee should devise an STTR that is simple to operate, has a broad scope covering all payments in a tax treaty and imposes a higher withholding tax closer to 15% to bring meaningful revenues for them. Also, developing countries desire that STTR provisions may be introduced at the earliest so as to speedily implement them through the UN Multilateral Instrument under contemplation. This Policy Brief also examines existing average withholding tax rates on interest and royalty payments in existing tax treaties of 48 South Centre and 52 G-77+China Member States and finds that out of a total of 100 developing countries, only 25 would stand to benefit from the STTR in its restricted form in Pillar Two, further strengthening the need for an improved version formulated by the United Nations.
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.
Revenue Effects of the Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate for African Economies
By Seydou Coulibaly
This policy brief provides the first piece of empirical evidence on the revenue implications of the recent global minimum tax rate reform agreement for African economies. We implement a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the effect of having an effective corporate tax rate of at least 15% on tax revenue collection for a panel of 28 African economies over the period 2000-2020.
The estimation results indicate that the implementation of the global minimum effective corporate tax rate of 15% proposed under Pillar II of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Two Pillar Solution has a positive but not statistically significant likely impact on corporate tax revenue and total tax revenue at the conventional significance levels. This suggests that the global minimum tax deal is unlikely to increase tax revenue for African economies. These findings exhort the Inclusive Framework and all the stakeholders of the global tax reform negotiations to consider revising the global minimum tax rate rules to ensure that the agreement will effectively benefit African countries through better tax revenue collection.
The proposed OECD Pillar One and Two reforms mark a significant shift in the way large multinational enterprises are taxed on their global incomes. However, while considering the reform at the proposed scale tax administrators must be able to compare the revenue gains with alternatives. This paper uses open-source data to provide tentative estimates of the impact of Pillars One and Two. The methodology has been detailed so that administrators can replicate it for comparison. Further, the paper provides an assessment from the perspective of developing countries of some of the key design elements of the proposals so as to understand whether they are administrable and to foresee possible challenges.
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.
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
South Centre Comments on Draft Model Rules for Nexus and Revenue Sourcing
The South Centre offers its comments on the Draft Model Rules for Nexus and Revenue Sourcing. As a procedural matter, the extremely rapid pace of discussions is a matter of great concern for developing countries, a matter also raised by the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF). While an urgent solution is needed to the taxation of the digitalization of the economy, this must mean one which incorporates the interests of developing countries.
South Asia and the Need for Increased Tax Revenues from the Digitalized Economy
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary
It is understandable why Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both members of the OECD Inclusive Framework, rejected the Two Pillar solution of the OECD on the taxation of the digitalized economy. Both Pillars would have deprived them of badly needed revenues, especially Pillar One. South Asian countries, amongst the poorest in the world and with high levels of external debt, must conduct a careful cost-benefit analysis if they are considering proceeding with Pillar One. Agreeing to this means foregoing unilateral measures on all companies, including those out-of-scope and losing vital policy space. Further, the agreement will have a long shelf-life and likely last for the next 30-40 years. Thus, all developing countries, including from South Asia, should be clear about what they are ‘getting into’.
Impact of a Minimum Tax Rate under the Pillar Two Solution on Small Island Developing States
Deadline: 15 March 2022
Pillar Two will end the race to the bottom in tax matters as allowed by the absence of a minimum global tax, likely affecting many financial services in some developing countries, removing the option for them to rely upon tax competition as an economic model. Hence, there is a need to understand how the Pillar Two rules are going to affect developing countries, particularly in small islands developing States where a large portion of their economies rely on tax-related financial services. It is necessary to consider development strategies aiming to deal with the potential disruptions and job losses posed by Pillar Two. These development strategies must provide pathways through which these countries can ensure employment opportunities to their people that require similar skill sets from some soon-to-be redundant segments of the financial industry. These can also highlight future financial sectors with potential where these countries can consider exploring/reorienting to benefit their economies.
Accordingly, this call for papers invites analysis on the effects of Pillar Two inSmall Island Developing States that are Member States of the G-77+China. The proposals can either provide generalized suggestions for a whole set of countries or provide customized advisory for individual countries.
This call invites established scholars, early career academics, PhD students and practitioners (policy makers, tax officials, lawyers) across multiple disciplines to submit abstracts.