The ongoing digitalization has set the ground for new means of value creation that create considerable challenges for the existing system of global corporate taxation. Understanding digital business models and their similarities with traditional research and development activities provides the chance for careful adjustments to the system of corporate taxation. Yet, a fundamental and potentially overshooting corporate tax reform is at the forefront of the OECD’s agenda. The OECD discusses a two-pillar proposal to adjust worldwide corporate taxation. Pillar One proposes a “Unified Approach” that is designed to allocate taxing rights to market jurisdictions. It is proposed to split worldwide, consolidated corporate profits in routine and non-routine profits. Under this approach, routine profits are distributed among jurisdictions in line with the prevailing transfer pricing system (Amount B). A fraction of the residual profit is allocated, based on the proportion of sales, across all countries in which the corporation generates revenues (Amount A). The remainder of the residual profit should be allocated according to the existing arm’s length principle (Amount C). Granting taxing rights on an arbitrary amount of profits to market jurisdictions – even beyond the existence of legal entities – is overshooting and increases tax complexity and administrative burdens. Pillar Two, the “Global Anti-Base Erosion” (GloBE) proposal, intends to counteract all remaining profit shifting risks by introducing a coordinated global minimum tax and a deduction disallowance that should in general apply to all transactions. Yet, existing controlled foreign corporation legislation already ensure the taxing right of residence countries and many jurisdictions already have some forms of deduction disallowances in place for interest and royalty expenses. Broadening taxing rights considerably increases the risk of double taxation.
Fischer, Leonie, Daniel Klein, Christopher Ludwig, Raphael Müller and Christoph Spengel (2020), Global Corporate Tax Reform to the Worse? Assessing the OECD Proposals, ZEW policy brief No. 20-01, Mannheim. Download