Sharing the Pie: Taxing Multinationals in a Global Market

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Abstract

Complaints in society about how multinationals pay corporate tax are familiar. Multinationals seem able to arrange their affairs in a way that allows them to avoid contributing their fair share. Governments help them to attract investment. Workers and customers, meanwhile, face ever-increasing tax bills. What is the problem in corporate taxation? It is broader than any one country or company. Today’s tax regime passed its sell-by date long ago. Back in the 1920s – the early days of international taxation, when international business primarily revolved around bulk trade and bricks-and-mortar industries – levying a percentage of a company’s profit in the way we still do today made sense. Businesses tended to be close to their customers and had a strong local physical presence. Today’s markets, however, operate in a different reality. Companies now structure business on a regional – or even global – basis, while the Internet means physical presences are no longer necessary to service national markets. Globalization and internationalization have made the gap between tax and market reality even wider. Taxation now influences business processes. Countries distort business decisions by not treating cross-border activities on a par with domestic equivalents. The lack of an internationally coordinated approach gives rise to double (non-)taxation issues. Governments seem to be on the case, but what they’re proposing doesn’t suffice. Adhering to old status quos, the G20/OECD’s BEPS initiative and recent EU measures like the ATAD focus on the symptoms of an ill-designed model rather than dealing with underlying root causes. Imagine designing a fair system from scratch – a “corporate tax 2.0”. Drafted between 2010 and 2014, Sharing the Pie assesses issues in contemporary corporate taxation to arrive at an optimal alternative, straightforward enough to express as a formula: Tax Payable by Firm A in Country X = Tax Rate * Firm A’s Worldwide Rents * (Domestic Sales / Worldwide Sales). The book is based on Dr De Wilde’s PhD thesis, which was defended by the author at Erasmus University Rotterdam on 15 January 2015 (cum laude). For the purposes of this publication it has been updated to take into consideration developments in international corporate taxation (BEPS, EU ATAD) since January 2015. The book addresses the underlying issues in corporate taxation aiming to put forward an analytically sound and comprehensive solution.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages798
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Winner Johannes Cornelis Ruigrok Prize 2016 (Royal Dutch Society of the Sciences), Dissertation Prize 2016 (Dutch Association for Tax Sciences) and Erasmus Graduate School of Law Dissertation prize 2015.

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