Tax Wars: How to End the Conflict over Taxing Global Digital Commerce

44 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2020


In the last two years, dozens of governments have proposed or implemented unilateral tax measures to tax foreign-based technology companies. The new tax innovations include special withholding taxes, diverted profit taxes, minimum taxes, and digital services taxes. The rise of these unilateral measures threatens an international tax “war” among governments that could stifle new business models or even the spread of the global digital economy. This Article reviews the failure of international reform efforts to constrain aggressive international tax planning within the digital economy, and how the global digital tax conflict masks a growing dissatisfaction with how to tax value associated with global transactions. The best way to address these global developments is through a coordinated solution that creates an economic presence test (a Quantitative Economic Presence Permanent Establishment) and modifies the division of tax revenues between countries by allocating residual profits to market jurisdictions (e.g., the Residual Profit Split by Income proposal).

Suggested Citation

Cockfield, Arthur, Tax Wars: How to End the Conflict over Taxing Global Digital Commerce (2020). Berkeley Business Law Journal, Vol. 17, page 353, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Arthur Cockfield (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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