China and the Future of the International Tax Regime
32 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2017 Last revised: 1 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 21, 2017
The International tax regime (ITR) has been transformed after the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The G20/Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project (2013-2015) has fundamentally changed the ITR, giving new life to the single tax principle (income should be taxed once, i.e. no double taxation and no double non taxation).
Reaction to BEPS has varied dramatically between the EU and the US, the two largest markets in the world. In the EU BEPS is taken very seriously, as shown for example by the new Anti Tax Avoidance Directives that implement the single tax principle. In the US BEPS is almost invisible; while the US model tax treaty has been amended to incorporate it the US has refused to sign the Multilateral Instrument to implement BEPS in its treaties and the only other BEPS action that the US has taken is country by country reporting.
It thus appears that the future of BEPS and the ITR depends on whether the EU or the US view prevails, i.e., whether multinationals can be forced to pay significant tax on the 160-220 billion that are currently not taxed annually because of BEPS.
While US multinationals as well as EU multinationals are exposed to the EU ATAD and related measures while operating in Europe, they are less subject to EU anti BEPS measures elsewhere in the world. It therefore is crucial to assess the reaction to BEPS in the other large economy that was involved in its development, namely China.
The following article attempts to assess China’s reaction to BEPS based on Chinese sources. It shows that China takes BEPS seriously. Therefore, given the reactions of China (as well as India, which is even more aggressive that China for example in taxing the digital economy) it seems likely that eventually the EU view of BEPS will prevail and US based multinationals will eventually be forced to pay tax on the over 100 billion they shift offshore each year.
Keywords: BEPS, China
JEL Classification: H26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation