Full Circle? The Single Tax Principle, BEPS, and the New US Model

26 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2015 Last revised: 25 May 2017

Date Written: October 13, 2015


On October 5, 2015, the OECD and G20 released the final BEPS package. It included the following new preamble to the OECD model tax treaty:

(State A) and (State B)…Intending to conclude a Convention for the elimination of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and on capital without creating opportunities for non-taxation or reduced taxation through tax evasion or avoidance…

This language embodies the OECD and G20’s official commitment to preventing both double taxation and double non-taxation, i.e., to the single tax principle.

The official press release that accompanied the final package quoted OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria as stating that “[t]he measures we are presenting today represent the most fundamental changes to international tax rules in almost a century”. How innovative is the final BEPS package?

This paper will argue that while there is some innovation in BEPS, it is in fact more of a continuation that a sharp break with the past. Like Alexis de Tocqueville’s French Revolution, BEPS represents both continuity and change. In particular, the single tax principle has formed the theoretical basis of much of the international tax regime from the beginning. And it is in fact this continuity rather than any sharp change that gives the final BEPS package its promise to, as Secretary General Gurria also promised, “put an end to double non-taxation.”

Keywords: BEPS, US Model, Single Tax Principle

JEL Classification: H26

Suggested Citation

Avi-Yonah, Reuven S., Full Circle? The Single Tax Principle, BEPS, and the New US Model (October 13, 2015). 1 Global Tax'n 12 (2016), U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 480, U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 15-019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2673463 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2673463

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-647-4033 (Phone)

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