More than 200 experts debated issues surrounding this topic in 48 presentations held in 16 online sessions. Highlights of this year’s conference were the keynotes by Professor Wolfgang Schön from the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance and Professor Florian Scheuer from the University of Zurich, as well as the policy session with renowned experts who debated whether minimum corporate tax rates will end tax competition.
Will there finally be an international tax system?
Professor Schön, director of the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance, gave a thorough overview over past and current efforts to harmonise international tax systems. His presentation addressed currently used and strongly debated tax instruments, including their implementation and feasibility at the international level. The new and stronger role of the G20, which has been instrumental in recent efforts to introduce a global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations, should be highlighted in this context. Although this newfound international consensus may indicate that something like an international tax system exists, Wolfgang Schön warns, however, that even if the minimum tax system for international corporations is fully implemented, there are still many unanswered questions that will shape future international tax disputes.
How to tax start-ups?
Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Co.: examples of large multinational corporations that obviously pay too little or unfairly distributed taxes are at the centre of current debates on corporate taxation. However, the fact that a large part of the innovative strength and economic performance of national economies is based on small, innovative companies is often disregarded. These start-ups and their employees usually take great risks to develop a new product or an entirely new market. Moreover, these companies are often subject to severe financial constraints and additional taxes would be a major burden for them. Higher taxes could even prevent some start-ups from being founded in the first place. As a result, the innovation intensity of the economy will decline. Based on an extensive data set, Professor Scheuer analysed the reactions of start-ups to changes in the tax system. In his presentation, he showed how strongly corporate taxation affects the innovation activity of small start-ups.