SynopsisEarlier this month, 130 countries and jurisdictions signed an agreement to reform international tax rules and ensure that multinational enterprises (MNEs) pay their fair share wherever they operate.
The proposed global tax regime should result in significant revenue for countries including India, said Pascal Saint-Amans, director-tax at the OECD, expressing confidence that negotiations would be completed on time. “The allocation key does favour India, which is a very large market for these (multinational) companies. This is very beneficial compared to the current rules,” he told ET in an interview.
Earlier this month, 130 countries and jurisdictions signed an agreement to reform international tax rules and ensure that multinational enterprises (MNEs) pay their fair share wherever they operate.
The details will be negotiated in October and the new regime is likely to roll out from 2023. Under its two pillars, the global tax regime proposes a fairer distribution of profits and taxing rights among countries with respect to the largest MNEs and a floor on competition over corporate income tax through the introduction of a global minimum corporate tax proposed at 15%. G20 finance ministers, including India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, gave their backing last Saturday to a deal to overhaul the way multinational companies are taxed.
Taxes like the equalisation levy, imposed by India to collect tax from the major digital companies which otherwise do not pay taxes here according to the existing rules, will need to go once the global regime is rolled out. “The rationale for these taxes disappears with the new rules and their withdrawal is a key element of the agreement,” Saint-Amans said, outlining the gains from the new regime. Asked whether apportioning would compensate India enough, he said, “I do not have the data to say what would be the revenues for India under the new rules, but they should result in significant revenues for countries, including India.”
Saint-Amans, who has spearheaded international tax negotiations at the OECD, including the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting framework, told ET that the timing of the removal of taxes like the equalisation levy will need to be coordinated both between countries and with regard to the implementation of these new rules. Besides, he said, measures like the equalisation levy led to trade tensions, as demonstrated by the declared intention of the US to take retaliatory measures against states that have introduced taxes on digital services, which they consider discriminatory. “Thus, their removal will bring much-needed certainty and stability to the international tax system and create a more favourable climate for trade,” he said.
Saint-Amans acknowledged that there was some opposition in a few countries but expressed confidence over the political impetus to conclude the deal. “There is a real willingness to have the agreement implemented as quickly as possible,” he said. He said the package that was first endorsed by the G-7 had been amended to accommodate interests of the developing countries. “This relates, for example, to the revision of the revenue threshold for companies and the nexus threshold,” he said.
The new regime seeks to reallocate some taxing rights over MNEs from their home countries to the markets where they have business activities and earn profits, regardless of whether they have a physical presence or not.
These would apply to the MNEs that have global sales of more than €20 billion (1€ =Rs 88) and profitability greater than 10%. Profit in excess of 10% of revenue will be allocated to market jurisdictions with nexus using a revenue-based allocation. He said the timelines for the tax can be met. “October 2021, just three months away, is another important milestone. The elements of the package will be finalised by then, complete with an implementation plan to develop model legislation, guidance and a multilateral treaty in 2022, with implementation from 2023,” he said.
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