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Corporate taxation of a significant digital presence

07-12-2018

Despite achieving unprecedented growth and profit rates, the digital economy seems to be relatively undertaxed when compared to more traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies. The current rules are based on the physical presence of taxpayers and assets, and there is a general understanding that they are not suited to taxing a digital economy characterised by reliance on intangible assets and ubiquitous services whose location is often hard to determine. International bodies are currently working ...

Despite achieving unprecedented growth and profit rates, the digital economy seems to be relatively undertaxed when compared to more traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies. The current rules are based on the physical presence of taxpayers and assets, and there is a general understanding that they are not suited to taxing a digital economy characterised by reliance on intangible assets and ubiquitous services whose location is often hard to determine. International bodies are currently working on how to adapt tax rules to the digital reality. The European Commission adopted a proposal in March 2018. It would allow taxation on the basis of digital rather than physical presence linked with the EU, for digital activities generating turnover of over €7 million, and with more than 100 000 users or 3 000 business-to-business contracts annually. The proposal has met with mixed reactions from stakeholders. Although there is growing recognition that digital companies should pay similar tax rates to traditional companies, some consider the initiative to be premature given the ongoing search for a compromise at the level of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which is thought of as the permanent solution. The report by Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) proposes to widen the scope and reach of the tax, and increase clarity for tax authorities and companies. The plenary vote on the report is expected during the December session. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Understanding the OECD tax plan to address 'base erosion and profit shifting' – BEPS

29-06-2017

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum, with further impetus from the G20/OECD 'Base erosion and profit shifting' action plan (known as BEPS), initiated in 2013. The BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes and was endorsed in 2015. The 15 BEPS final reports are generally seen as a step in the fight against corporate tax avoidance. The action against BEPS is designed ...

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum, with further impetus from the G20/OECD 'Base erosion and profit shifting' action plan (known as BEPS), initiated in 2013. The BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes and was endorsed in 2015. The 15 BEPS final reports are generally seen as a step in the fight against corporate tax avoidance. The action against BEPS is designed to be flexible, as a consequence of its adoption by consensus. Recommendations made in BEPS reports range from minimum standards to guidelines, and also putting in place an instrument to modify the provisions of tax treaties related to BEPS practices. Implementation is under way, and the follow-up and future of work to tackle BEPS is organised so as to provide a more inclusive framework able to involve more countries and build on cooperation between international organisations. Putting BEPS actions in place is progressing, in particular with the finalisation of the multilateral instrument aimed at implementing treaty changes envisaged in the BEPS actions. Similarly, progress is being made with regard to the implementation of the BEPS four minimum standards, and documents are being developed to support the implementation of measures addressing BEPS in lower capacity developing countries. A table noting the different fora and their participants is annexed to the briefing. This briefing updates an earlier edition, PE 580.911, of April 2016 (except the part on ‘EU policy: How BEPS actions are translated’ which is the subject of a forthcoming briefing).

Corporate tax avoidance by multinational firms

23-09-2013

The tax reduction methods used by multinational companies have been well known for decades. They include transfer pricing, the use of lower-tax jurisdictions, over-charging entities in higher-tax countries to reduce taxable profit and (legally) completing a transaction in a lower-tax country, different to the country which the business relates to. The problem is relatively clear and law-makers want a situation where businesses not only operate within the letter but also the spirit of the law.

The tax reduction methods used by multinational companies have been well known for decades. They include transfer pricing, the use of lower-tax jurisdictions, over-charging entities in higher-tax countries to reduce taxable profit and (legally) completing a transaction in a lower-tax country, different to the country which the business relates to. The problem is relatively clear and law-makers want a situation where businesses not only operate within the letter but also the spirit of the law.

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