Statement by the South Centre on the Historic UN Resolution Calling for a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation
23 November 2023
The South Centre strongly welcomes the adoption on 22 November 2023 of the historic resolution in the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly on the “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”. The resolution calls for establishing a “Member State-led, open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee for the purpose of drafting terms of reference for a United Nations framework convention on international tax cooperation” and is arguably the most significant development in international taxation in the modern era. The South Centre has been actively engaged in supporting these negotiations, in partnership with various institutions from the Global South and allies from the Global North, and commends the African Group in the UN in New York for their leadership of the developing world in steering through this momentous resolution.
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.
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.
The South Centre is seeking to fill a Researcher position in the South Centre Tax Initiative, the organization’s flagship project for promoting cooperation among developing countries on international tax matters. The Researcher will be required to carry out analysis to support the ongoing negotiations on international taxation in the United Nations and the OECD. The analysis will focus on the implications for developing countries of the various international tax standards under negotiation with a view to providing the South Centre’s Member States and developing countries from the G-77+China with policy advisory and capacity building. The Researcher will also be required to produce revenue estimates of the policy proposals of developing countries and where necessary, a comparison with the proposals of developed countries. The Researcher is expected to have deep knowledge of international taxation, particularly in transfer pricing and a strong background in economics and quantitative economic analysis.
SOUTH CENTRE-WATAF JOINT SPECIAL TECHNICAL SESSION ON THE OECD TWO PILLAR SOLUTION
(JULY 4-5 2023)
The South Centre and the West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) successfully organised a two-day special session in Abuja, Nigeria, from 4-5 July, 2023, aimed at enhancing the understanding of WATAF and South Centre member countries on the draft rules of the OECD Two Pillar solution to taxation of the digitalised economy. The session brought together officials responsible for tax policy, legislation, and administration, along with experts representing African and Latin American countries in the OECD Inclusive Framework Steering Group.
The GloBE Rules: Challenges for Developing Countries and Smart Policy Options to Protect Their Tax Base
By Emmanuel Eze, Sol Picciotto, Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Bob Michel and Tommaso Faccio
The OECD global minimum tax of 15%, known as the Global Anti-Base Erosion (GloBE) Rules, have meant that developing countries need to consider what policy responses to take to ensure they collect the minimum tax and not cede it to developed countries. One option being promoted by the OECD is the “Qualified Domestic Minimum Top Up Tax” (QDMTT), with the claim that it will help developing countries collect the minimum tax of 15%. This Policy Brief points out that under the QDMTT MNEs can still pay zero taxes, it does not guarantee tax collection, it is complex to administer, it curtails national sovereignty in the form of the “peer review” mechanism and it is relevant mainly for tax havens which are destinations of profit shifting. The Brief then outlines policy options relevant for developing countries, namely Alternative Minimum Taxes (AMTs) and reform of tax incentives.
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.
Statement by the South Centre on the Two Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy
28 July 2023
The South Centre takes note of the Outcome Statement by 138 member jurisdictions of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework (IF) made on 11 July 2023, on the Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy. In this statement the South Centre highlights the inclusion of rules that have the practical effect of reducing the tax payable to developing countries under Amount A, the limitations of Pillar Two and other key aspects of the OECD proposed rules that require attention by developing countries before they decide to be tied up by such rules.
COVID-19 impacted humanity in many ways and one such impact is wide acceptance of the concept of Work From Home (WFH) by the corporate sector. Previously, WFH did exist in some countries, perhaps at a much smaller scale, but compulsions of COVID-19 have made WFH a new normal. This new normal also creates new tax challenges for the Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). Does the employee create a taxable presence in the countries where they are working remotely through a ”permanent establishment” and if yes what are the profits attributable to such permanent establishment?
The existing treaty provisions are likely to result in widespread litigation on these issues. It is desirable that a new provision is introduced in the tax treaties to tackle these issues. The suggested remote worker permanent establishment provision adopts a very simple measurable threshold for determination of permanent establishment and also attempts to balance taxing rights of the country of source as well as residence. A simple standardised approach could be adopted for determining the profits attributable to such permanent establishment.
Implementing wealth tax and wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Khanyisa Mbalati
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most unequal places in the world, with significant levels of social, gender, and income inequality. Several countries in the region have a tax structure that is heavily weighted towards consumption taxes, which can be regressive and inflict a significant burden on those with low and middle incomes. Implementing progressive tax systems, whereby those with higher earnings pay a larger share in taxes, is one way through which governments might optimize the impact of tax revenue on reducing inequality. The adoption of a wealth tax may facilitate wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan African nations and could help bridge the inequality gap in the region. High statutory wealth tax rates of between 5-8% are needed in order to have an effective tax rate of 3-5%.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Process – An Opportunity for a Paradigm Shift
By Kuldeep Sharma and Raunicka Sharma
Efforts are underway to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation so that the current tax structures consider the equitable interests of developing countries. This is necessitated as a section of developing countries has lost confidence in the OECD and there is a lingering doubt whether OECD has developing countries’ best and equitable interests in mind. As a result, the United Nations General Assembly has launched intergovernmental talks to enhance international tax cooperation and draft a UN Tax Convention that aims to establish inclusive norms for transparency and tax cooperation, that leads to development of an acceptable and frictionless worldwide tax policy.