from the plan-for-world-peace-to-follow dept.
Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD’s work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits hampering trade and limit global growth. But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channelled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally. For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. “We are putting an end to double non-taxation,” says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.
For the recommendations to actually become binding countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. The OECD says that it plans to hold an international conference on amending the network of existing tax treaties. Sol Picciotto, an emeritus professor at Lancaster University in Britain, says the recommendations are at least five to 10 years from becoming law, and that the jury is still out on whether they will accomplish their stated goals. “These are just tweaks,” says Picciotto. “They’re trying to repair an old motorcar, but what they need is a new engine.”