OECD Proposal On Tax Avoidance Approved By G20 To Little Fanfare

October 7, 2014
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The issue of corporate taxation has taken center stage in many policy-makers’ minds across the world, yet difficulties in agreeing on a solution seem to have resulted in an effective “paralysis.” According to PwC and OECD data cited by The Economist, the global average corporate income tax as a share of profits is continuing to drop precipitously. From an average of over 19 percent in 2004, the figure had dropped to roughly 16.5 percent by 2012. As a percent of GDP, the average revenues from corporate income tax for the OECD rose to a high of just over 3.5 percent in 2006 before falling in the recession to approximately 2.25 percent. This figure did recover by 2012 to just below its 2004 level of about 2.8 percent.

Tax, Trust & Estates Law Fall BackIn response, the 2012 G20 called on the OECD to find consensus as to how to close the loopholes in international tax standards that multinationals exploit to lower their bills, according to the news source. After two years, the OECD presented its plan to the 2014 G20 on Sept. 20 for approval, which it received.

The proposal attempts to curb a number of practices and is to be followed by a second part next year. Practices that would be banned or curbed include “transfer pricing,” by which multinationals shift profits to low-tax countries by charging fees between different subsidiaries they own, and “hybrid mismatching,” which allows companies to claim double deductions by classifying financial instruments as debt in one country and equity in another. Additionally, it would allow member countries to share information about multinationals’ assets, sales, profits, etc among other measures.

Unfortunately, the next stage is genuinely much harder, according to The Guardian. Agreeing to a measure at the G20 is one thing – expecting every OECD country to embed the measures into the more than 3,000 tax treaties of global trade is quite another. Clearly, many countries are dedicated to ending the “race to the bottom” that has characterized global corporate tax policy issues over the last several years, but the current measure should be considered with some skepticism.

As an international tax attorney check out some our previous posts regarding multinational taxes: