The recent revelation that many multinational enterprises (MNEs) pay very little tax to the countries they operate in has led to various proposals to change the ways they are taxed. Most of these proposals, however, do not address the fundamental flaws in the international tax regime that allow companies like Apple or Starbucks to legally avoid taxation. In particular, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been working on a Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project and is supposed to make recommendations to the G20, but it is not clear yet whether this will result in a meaningful advance toward preventing BEPS. This article will advance a simple proposal that would allow OECD member countries to tax MNEs based in those countries without impeding their competitiveness. The key observation is that in the twentyfirst century unilateral approaches to tax corporations whose operations span the globe are obsolete, and a multilateral approach is both essential and feasible. The article is divided into five parts. Part III addresses the fundamental question of why corporations should be taxed at all, and what are the implications for taxing MNEs. Part IV advances a proposal to tax MNEs at a reduced rate on all of their global profits on a current basis and outlines some of the advantages from such an outcome. Part V responds to some of the common critiques against this proposal and evaluates it in comparison with alternative proposals. Part VI addresses the implications of the proposal for developing countries. Part VII concludes by evaluating the likelihood that such a proposal may be adopted.
Reuven S. Avi-Yonah,
Hanging Together: A Multilateral Approach to Taxing Multinationals,
Mich. Bus. & Entrepreneurial L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mbelr/vol5/iss2/3