International corporate tax reform could support global tax revenues

By David Bradbury, Tibor Hanappi, Pierce O’Reilly, Ana Cinta Gonzalez (OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration), Asa Johansson, Stéphane Sorbe, Valentine Millot, Sébastien Turban (OECD Economics Department)

Recent economic analysis suggests that a proposed solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy under negotiation at the OECD would have a significant positive impact on global tax revenues.

The analysis puts the combined effect of the two-pillar solution under discussion at up to 4% of global corporate income tax (CIT) revenues, or USD 100 billion annually. The revenue gains are broadly similar across high, middle and low-income economies, as a share of corporate tax revenues.

The analysis was released just weeks after the international community reaffirmed its commitment to reach a consensus-based long-term solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, and to continue working toward an agreement by the end of 2020, according to a Statement by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS.

The Inclusive Framework on BEPS, which brings together 137 countries and jurisdictions on an equal footing for multilateral negotiation of international tax rules, decided during its January 29-30 meeting to move ahead with a two-pillar negotiation to address the tax challenges of digitalisation.

Participants agreed to pursue the negotiation of new rules on where tax should be paid (“nexus” rules) and on what portion of profits they should be taxed (“profit allocation” rules), on the basis of a “Unified Approach” under Pillar One. The aim is to ensure that multinational enterprises (MNEs) conducting sustained and significant business in places where they may not have a physical presence can be taxed in such jurisdictions. They also decided to continue discussions on Pillar Two, which aims to address remaining base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) issues and ensure that international businesses pay a minimum level of tax.

The economic analysis and impact assessment of the Pillar One and Pillar Two proposals is being undertaken to inform key decisions on the design and parameters of the tax reform to be agreed by Inclusive Framework members as part of the negotiations underway at the OECD. The analysis covers data from more than 200 jurisdictions, including all members of the Inclusive Framework, and more than 27,000 MNE groups. Assumptions in the preliminary analysis are illustrative, and do not pre-judge decisions to be taken by the Inclusive Framework.

The analysis shows that the Pillar One reform – designed to re-allocate some taxing rights to market jurisdictions, regardless of physical presence – would also bring a small tax revenue gain for most jurisdictions. Under Pillar One, low and middle-income economies are expected to gain relatively more revenue than advanced economies, with investment hubs experiencing some loss in tax revenues. More than half of the profit re-allocated would come from 100 large MNE groups.

The analysis shows that Pillar Two could raise a significant amount of additional tax revenues. By reducing the tax rate differentials between jurisdictions, the reform is expected to lead to a significant reduction in profit shifting by MNEs. This will be important for developing economies as they tend to be more adversely affected by profit shifting than high-income economies.

The overall direct effect on investment costs is expected to be small in most countries, as the reforms target firms with high levels of profitability and low effective tax rates. The reforms would also reduce the influence of corporate taxes on investment location decisions. In addition, failure to reach a consensus-based solution would likely lead to further unilateral measures and greater uncertainty.


OECD Webcast presentation of the preliminary results of the Economic analysis and impact assessment of potential reforms to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy (February 2020):  www.oecd.org/tax/beps/webcast-economic-analysis-impact-assessment-february-2020.htm.

OECD Secretary General Tax Report to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (February 2020): http://www.oecd.org/ctp/oecd-secretary-general-tax-report-g20-finance-ministers-riyadh-saudi-arabia-february-2020.pdf

Statement by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS on the
Two-Pillar Approach to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation
of the Economy (January 2020): http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/statement-by-the-oecd-g20-inclusive-framework-on-beps-january-2020.pdf

Does Denmark need yet another tax reform?

By Mikkel Hermansen and Valentine Millot, OECD Economics Department

The answer is yes according to the recent OECD Economic Survey of Denmark. The ratio of tax revenue to GDP in Denmark is 46%, very close to the highest country (France: 46.2%) and well above the OECD average (34.2%). Past reforms have made considerable progress in shifting taxation away from labour income to other sources such as environmental taxes. Nevertheless, Denmark should continue to reform taxes so as to promote investment in innovation, higher education and entrepreneurship, which would help to revive Denmark’s slow productivity growth.  

High marginal tax rates on labour and capital income are particularly harmful for productivity and should be kept at reasonable levels. At 55% these rates are among the highest in OECD countries (Figure 1). For corporate income taxation, it is recommended to introduce an allowance for corporate equity (ACE), as done in Belgium, Italy and Portugal. This would reduce the incentive to finance investment by debt, rather than equity, and would help to boost labour productivity and wages. It is also recommended to cancel the lower inheritance taxation for family-owned businesses. Evidence suggests that this is detrimental to productivity since the family successor tend to underperform compared to non-family managers.

Another key reform would be to reduce the personal income tax deduction of interest expenses. Denmark has one of the most generous tax incentives for interest expenses in the OECD (OECD, 2018). It is not surprising therefore, that Danish households hold the highest gross debt to income ratio in OECD countries, which poses risks to financial stability in case of sharp rise of interest rates. By contrast, personal investment in more productive assets, such as company shares, is discouraged by the tax system (Figure 2). With interest rates at historically low levels, now would be a good time to reform.


OECD (2019), OECD Economic Surveys: Denmark 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-dnk-2019-en.

OECD (2018), Taxation of Household Savings, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264289536-en