Tax Revenue Mobilization

SC & IHEID Report, October 2023

Taxation of the Digital Economy 

by Adnan Sose, Nicolás Tascon and Anders Viemose

As globalisation has pushed through complex inter-State trade in goods and services, in parallel there is a growing complexity in determining the taxation of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) in an increasingly digitalized economy. This report reviews existing bilateral tax treaties between South Centre’s Member States and States where most digitalised MNEs are headquartered, using a threshold of EUR 750 million in annual turnover to limit the number of in-scope MNEs in the study. This analysis produced primary data on South Centre Member States’ source taxing rights scores and the implications of this on tax treaty negotiations to enable effective taxation in the digital economy through the inclusion of the United Nations (UN) solution for digital taxation, Article 12B of the UN Model Tax Convention. Further, the study sought to identify ‘weak’ tax treaties with low source taxing rights which merited a comprehensive renegotiation beyond the inclusion of Article 12B. Furthermore, the reports examined the treatment of “Computer Software” in the tax treaties under study, and concluded with recommendations going forward.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief No. 36, 26 October 2023

Beyond the Two Pillar Proposals

A Simplified Approach for Taxing Multinationals

By Sol Picciotto, Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Alex Cobham, Rasmi Ranjan Das, Emmanuel Eze, Bob Michel

This paper puts forward an alternative to the proposed multilateral convention under Pillar One of the BEPS project, by building on and going beyond the progress made so far. A new direction was signalled in 2019 by the G-24 paper proposing a taxable nexus based on significant economic presence, combined with fractional apportionment. The resulting measures agreed under the two Pillars entail acceptance in principle of this approach, and also provide detailed technical standards for its implementation. These include: (i) a taxable nexus based on a quantitative threshold of sales revenues; (ii) a methodology for defining the global consolidated profits of MNEs for tax purposes, and (iii) detailed technical standards for defining and quantifying the factors that reflect the real activities of MNEs in a jurisdiction (sales, assets and employees).

The time is now right to take up the roadmap outlined by the G-24. The work done shows that technical obstacles can be overcome, the challenge is essentially political. This paper aims to provide a blueprint for immediate measures that States can take, while engaging in deliberation at national, regional and international levels for a global drive towards practical and equitable reforms. Unitary taxation with formulary apportionment is the only fair and effective way to ensure taxation of MNEs where economic activities occur, as mandated by the G20. It can ensure that MNE profits are taxed once and only once, provide stability and certainty for business, and establish a basis for international tax rules fit for the 21st century.

* Also available in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 32, 30 May 2023

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.

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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.  

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South Centre Comments on Progress Report on Amount A of Pillar One, 18 August 2022

South Centre Comments on Progress Report on Amount A of Pillar One

The South Centre offers its comments to the OECD Inclusive Framework’s Task Force on Digital Economy (TFDE) on the Progress Report on Amount A of Pillar One.

In June 2022, the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CODA), a Special Initiative of the African Union, and the South Centre, jointly released country-level revenue estimates from Amount A compared with Article 12B of the UN Model Tax Convention, for the 84 combined Member States of the African Union and the South Centre. CODA and the South Centre have also provided a set of recommendations to developing countries on the taxation of the digitalized economy.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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