Tax Cooperation Policy Briefs

Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 31, 25 March 2023

Taxation of Computer Software: Need for Clear Guidance in the UN Model Tax Convention

By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sebastien Babou Diasso

Developing countries pay enormous sums of money for the right to use intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. Such payments are known as ‘royalties’. The scale is enormous, and just 27 South Centre Member States paid $45 billion in 2020 as royalties. Some proportion of these payments are for the right to use computer software. Developing countries can gain significant revenues if the United Nations can provide clear international tax guidelines that payments for the right to use computer software should be taxable as royalties. This Policy Brief provides the world’s first country-level revenue estimates for 34 of the South Centre’s Member States and finds that they could collect potentially $1 billion in tax revenues in 2020 had they been able to tax payments for the use of computer software as royalties.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 30, 25 March 2023

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.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 29, 3 March 2023

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.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 28, 20 January 2023

Climate Finance Withholding Mechanism: Exploring a potential solution for climate finance needs of the developing countries

By Radhakishan Rawal

The developed countries’ commitment to provide climate finance to the developing countries has remained unfulfilled. The Climate Finance Withholding Mechanism (CFWM) is a potential solution for addressing climate finance needs of the developing countries. The CFWM adopts the well settled “withholding mechanism” under the tax laws to provide a steady flow of funds to the developing countries.

Multinational enterprises’ (MNEs) tax residents of developed countries earn income from the developing countries and pay tax on such income in the developed countries. The CFWM requires retention in the developing country, of the amount of tax so payable by the MNE, towards climate finance commitments of the developed countries. The CFWM does not result in additional tax outflow for the MNEs and also does not adversely impact taxing rights of the developed countries. The CFWM results in application of tax revenue of the developed countries towards their climate finance commitments. The CFWM does not address all the issues related to the climate finance problem but only attempts to speed up the flow of funds to the developing countries from where the relevant income originates.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 27, 21 December 2022

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.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 26, 31 October 2022

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.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 25, 30 September 2022

UN Model Tax Convention: Selective Territoriality – The Specter of Privileged Player in a Rigged Game

By Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed

This paper lays out the chessboard on which taxes on international incomes from immovables are contested, bargained, and harvested as per pre-determined rules that are starkly tilted in favor of developed countries. This embedded and pronounced bias in the international taxes regime in favor of developed countries makes them a privileged player. The developed countries then make maneuvers to optimize on their economic gains at the expense of developing nations rendering it a rigged game setting. The paper derives its rationale from an exceptionally selective choice of territoriality on incomes from immovables, which was astonishingly not aligned with the expected reverse capital movement, that is, from developing to developed countries. The genesis and evolution of selective territoriality are traced through its various institutional development phases – League of Nations (LN), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and United Nations (UN). An overwhelming international consensus on selective territoriality on incomes from immovables notwithstanding, the UN’s role is brought into spotlight to argue that the developing countries may have suffered massively over the past one hundred years by instinctively believing in the UN Model Tax Convention’s (MTC) efficacy and blindly pursuing Article 6 in their bilateral double taxation conventions (DTCs). The inimical implications of herd-mentality on part of developing countries got galvanized in the particular wake of developed countries employing innovative optimization tools – citizenship/residence by investment programs, tax havenry, manipulable ownership structures, beneficial ownership legislations, and porous exchange of information regime – to maximize on the economic gains. The paper undertakes both normative and structuralist evaluation of selective territoriality to sum up that this is an unjust principle of distribution of fiscal rights at the international level particularly in asymmetric economic relationships, and can hold its ground only until developing countries attain full cognition of the reality and start raising their vocal chords in unison to dismantle it.  


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 24, 29 July 2022

A Global Asset Registry to track hidden fortunes and for asset recovery

By Ricardo Martner

Financial opacity and offshore hidden wealth have become a major economic and political problem. Tax havens continue to exist and provide financial secrecy services that allow the richest individuals in the world to hide their wealth from national tax authorities. Implementing a Global Asset Registry could help tax authorities to identify, record and tax all wealth, regardless of where it is held. It would also be a critical tool in efforts to recover stolen assets of countries suffering from widespread corruption.


Informe sobre políticas en materia de cooperación tributaria 15, Junio de 2021

Conceptualización de un Instrumento multilateral de la ONU

Por Radhakishan Rawal

Los cambios que ha sufrido recientemente la  Convención Modelo de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Doble Tributación entre Países Desarrollados y Países en Desarrollo han dado lugar a disposiciones mas favorables a los países en desarrollo, al aumentar los ingresos fiscales a través de la imposición de tributos internacionales, por ejemplo, en la imposición de tributos a los ingresos procedentes del extranjero. En esta imposición se incluyen, entre otros, los impuestos sobre los ingresos procedentes de servicios digitales automatizados, pagos de programas informáticos y plusvalías. Normalmente, estos impuestos se incorporarían en convenios fiscales bilaterales a través de largas negociaciones. En cambio, un instrumento multilateral de las Naciones Unidas permitiria  actualizar de una manera mas acelerada varios convenios tributatrios por medio de una sola negociación. Esto ayudará a los países en desarrollo a recaudar ingresos con mayor prontitud. En este informe sobre políticas se aborda la posible estructura de un instrumento multilateral de esa índole.


Rapport sur les politiques en matière de coopération fiscale 23, 11 février 2022

Taux Minimum d’Impôt Mondial : Détaché des réalités des pays en développement

Par Sébastien Babou Diasso

Sous la direction des pays du G20 et de l’organisation de Coopération et de Développement Economique (OCDE), le Cadre Inclusif sur la réforme de la fiscalité internationale a adopté le 8 octobre 2021 une solution à deux piliers visant à résoudre les défis auxquels sont confrontés les pays dans le système fiscal actuel au niveau international. Cependant, le moins que l’on puisse dire, c’est que ces solutions n’apportent pas de réponses aux préoccupations de nombreux pays en développement, en particulier le taux d’impôt minimum de 15%, dans un contexte où la plupart des pays en développement membres de Centre Sud et du G-77+Chine ont déjà des taux effectifs bien au-dessus de ce minimum. Cette note vise à informer sur les niveaux actuels des taux d’imposition effectifs dans les pays en développement, pour lesquels les données sont disponibles, et à montrer pourquoi il ne serait pas pertinent de prendre en compte le taux minimum adopté dans le cadre inclusif. Mobiliser plus de ressources fiscales des entreprises multinationales est important pour les pays en développement pour la réalisation des Objectifs de Développement Durable. Nous recommandons donc que les pays en développement ignorent simplement le pilier deux et maintiennent leurs taux d’imposition actuels, ou les augmentent à des niveaux plus adaptés à travers l’application de mesures unilatérales plutôt que d’accepter d’être soumis à la procédure indiquée dans le pilier deux s’ils décident de l’appliquer.


Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 23, 11 February 2022

Global Minimum Tax Rate: Detached from Developing Country Realities

By Sebastien Babou Diasso

Under the umbrella of the G20 and the OECD, the Inclusive Framework adopted on 8 October 2021 a two-pillar solution to address tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy. However, these solutions do not respond to the needs of many developing countries, in particular the global tax minimum rate of 15%, in a context where most developing countries, defined as Member States of the South Centre and the G-77+China, have an average effective tax rate higher than the adopted rate. This policy brief provides information of the current effective tax rates in some developing countries, and highlights why the minimum rate of 15% in Pillar Two is insufficient for them. Tax revenue mobilization is important for developing countries to achieve the sustainable development goals. It is thereby recommended that developing countries simply ignore Pillar Two and maintain their current higher rate or increase their rate to an appropriate level and enforce it through unilateral measures rather than the rule order under Pillar Two, which they will have to follow if they decide to implement it.


Informes sobre políticas en materia de cooperación tributaria 17, Julio de 2021

Una carga molesta para naciones en vías de desarrollo: Cláusula de NMF en tratados impositivos

Por Deepak Kapoor, IRS 

La cláusula de la nación más favorecida (“NMF”) de los convenios para evitar la doble tributación encarna el principio básico de no discriminación y tiene por objeto aportar paridad a las oportunidades empresariales y de inversión entre los países y las jurisdicciones partes en los tratados. La incorporación de disposiciones como las cláusulas de la NMF y de no discriminación en los tratados de tributación pretende promover la equidad entre las partes en los tratados. En el contexto de los tratados de tributación entre países desarrollados y en desarrollo, las cláusulas de la NMF también actúan como herramienta de negociación para contemplar mejores tipos impositivos en los tratados.

Sin embargo, últimamente, estas cláusulas han empezado a manifestar unos efectos negativos en los países de origen, que en su mayor parte son países en desarrollo. Por lo general, no parece que las cláusulas de la NMF estén creando posibles riesgos si son operativas entre dos países con el mismo grado de desarrollo, pero, cuando la relación se establece entre un país desarrollado y otro en desarrollo, donde una parte recibe de la otra más inversiones de las que hace, ese tipo de riesgo es inevitable. Recientemente, se han producido problemas a raíz de diversas interpretaciones de las cláusulas de la NMF por parte de los tribunales que han obligado a los países de origen a ampliar los beneficios de los tipos reducidos y el ámbito de aplicación restringido a los países parte en el tratado con arreglo a las normas de la NMF. Esa clase de interpretaciones beneficiosas han ido más allá del objetivo y el propósito básicos de las cláusulas de la NMF.

A tenor de causas judiciales que han tenido lugar recientemente en Sudáfrica y la India, parece que las cláusulas de la NMF están creando oportunidades de “reducción de impuestos” y están dando lugar a una erosión involuntaria de la base imponible de los países de origen. El problema también radica en la redacción y las formulaciones ambiguas de las cláusulas de la NMF, que finalmente provocan resultados negativos inesperados para los países que están obligados por compromisos futuros. Por consiguiente, en estos momentos, las jurisdicciones de origen necesitan con urgencia un examen exhaustivo de las cláusulas de la NMF existentes en los tratados de tributación, sus relaciones cruzadas y sus posibles efectos secundarios negativos en otros tratados.



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