International Tax Cooperation: Perspectives from the Global South
About the Book:
A substantive reform of the global tax system involving a variety of multilateral platforms is underway. The question is not whether the tax standards and practices will change, but in which direction.
Developing countries have long sought changes in rules, standards and procedures shaping the allocation of taxing rights among sovereign states. In the wake of the 2008-2010 Great Recession, developed country governments engaged in massive public sector layoffs and channeling enormous public resources to bail out large financial companies and their wealthy investors. The Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, the Lux Leaks became household words in the United States and Europe because of the journalistic coverage. Other scandals, such as the “cum/ex” fraud in Germany involving a loophole in the taxing of dividend receipts were less known but just as materially significant. Tax reform, particularly as it applied to the treatment of corporations working in multiple tax jurisdictions, thus became not only a problem of developing countries but an issue of global concern.
Inequality is one of the greatest challenges that the world needs to face. Inequality is intimately linked with poverty. Although there has been progress in reducing poverty, a large part of the global population (overwhelmingly living in developing countries) is still denied access to a dignified life. While no poverty and reduced inequality are two of the outstanding Sustainable Development Goals, these and other goals are unlikely to be achieved by 2030. In fact, inequality is on the rise. Changing this situation will certainly require significant efforts at the national and regional level. But it also requires an international architecture that supports those efforts by respecting the policy space that countries need and coordinating constructive actions within the multilateral system. The current initiatives to ‘reform’ this system will only be legitimate if they recognize the gaps in the levels of development and contribute to effectively address them under a fair, pro-development system of rules. Please see last month’s SouthViews on “Understanding global inequality in the 21st century” by Jayati Ghosh, development economist and Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Improving Transfer Pricing Audit Challenges in Africa through Modern Legislation and Regulations
Auditing multinational enterprises often involves a broad range of complex technical issues, and transfer pricing (TP) is often the most important one. This policy brief looks at some of the key aspects of the modern TP legislation and illustrates how different drafting of regulations can assist in additional revenue collection as well as increased compliance. It further provides practical examples from real cases to show where poor legislation has given rise to tax planning and to profit shifting. Lastly, the brief offers practical solutions to some of the transactions illustrated through the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Suggested Approach to Drafting Transfer Pricing Legislation.
This update provides a snapshot of the publications and social media activities of the South Centre during the month of August 2018.
Interaction of Transfer Pricing & Profit Attribution: Conceptual and Policy Issues for Developing Countries
Till 2010, model tax conventions treated profit attribution to permanent establishments and transfer pricing under different articles, and profit attribution under Article 7 allowed sales to be taken into account both in the direct accounting method as well as the indirect apportionment method. However, the revised Article 7 in the 2010 update of the OECD Convention approximated profit attribution with transfer pricing and omitted the option of apportionment, thereby undermining sales and contributions made by market jurisdiction to business profits. When a tax treaty retains Article 7 based on the UN Convention or the earlier OECD Convention, Contracting States can take sales into account and also opt for apportionment. Developing countries need to fully understand these implications of Article 7 in their tax treaties, and opt for informed choices for transfer pricing and profit attribution to permanent establishments, including apportionment that takes sales into account.
Transfer Pricing: Concepts and Practices of the ‘Sixth Method’ in Transfer Pricing
Many developing countries are particularly concerned with problems of transfer pricing in the extractive industries, which are often significant components of their economies. Similar to other sectors, profit attribution may be highly dependent on the valuation of commodity exports. For this reason, a number of developing countries have adopted the ‘Sixth Method’, following the Argentine experience. This method aims to establish a clear and easily administered benchmark and avoid the need for subjective judgment and discretion.