The G7 countries have reached a landmark agreement on corporate tax reform, agreeing to a minimum rate of tax for multinational companies.
The deal between the US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy and Canada is aimed at stopping companies from shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions and ensuring the largest multinationals pay more tax where they operate.
But the amount of tax raised and which companies will be affected remain unclear.
Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor, and Emma Agyemang, our global tax correspondent, answered questions on what the deal means, which companies are likely to be affected and how it might succeed, throughout the day on Thursday June 10.
Here are the highlights:
FT Commenter MrMarket101: Isn’t this an impossible game to succeed at? If hundreds of billions in missing tax are at stake then hundreds of millions in tax advisory fees are also on the table. And when the incentives are this high you’re going to have every big four, mid size and boutique corporate tax advisory team in the world frothing at the mouth thinking of ever more complex webs of company structures to beat the new tax system.
Chris Giles, FT: This is precisely why it is difficult. But not impossible. If it was imposssible, no country would be able to collect corporate tax because the same incentives apply.
For tax collectors, the beauty of pillar two of the OECD proposals - the global minimum that the US Biden administration favours - it can be done unilaterally. The US is big enough to tax its companies globally and make it very difficult for them to use tax invesions to locate their headquarters elsewhere.
Companies also want to be compliant. So if the global rules change, the big four will want to help companies comply and get fees from that too.
FT Commenter Fons: Is there another more detailed document, besides the G7 finance ministers’ media statement, regarding the proposed global tax plan?
Emma Agyemang, FT: On many of the key issues we are still in the dark. For example, we don’t know exactly which 100 companies are going to be required to pay tax in the countries where they operate – not just where they have their headquarters under pillar one. On pillar two, the global minimum tax rate of 15 per cent, we don’t know what tax base the 15 per cent rate will be applied to.
The reason for the vagueness is there are still many areas and issues that negotiators haven’t decided. Remember, the G7 is only a fraction of the countries involved in the discussions. The full negotiation is being haggled over by 139 countries at the OECD in Paris.
In short, the lack of detail over the weekend from the G7 suggests this is just the start of the journey to a full agreement.
FT Commenter Maheshp: My question is For a country like India, what kind of taxes would companies like Facebook, Google & Twitter pay under this tax law?
Chris Giles, FT: The truth is that the level of taxes reallocated would not be very high. This is a first step in transforming international corporate taxation away from the basis being physical presence in a country, so the principle matters more than the exact amounts of tax.
Globally - the OECD estimated last October that Pillar 1 would raise between $5bn and $12bn a year in additional revenue. India’s share of the global economy is 3.2 per cent at market exchange rates, so it implies revenues in the region of $100m to $400m. And the money would not come remotely solely from Facebook, Google and tech companies, but all of the largest multinationals, so the tech share would be only a fraction of that.
FT Commenter Connor O’Leary: I read that Amazon’s profit margin is around 7.5 per cent. Does this mean the company will be unaffected by the new rule requiring 20 per cent of profits of companies with less than 10 per cent margin to be declared in the country of sale?
Emma Agyemang, FT: Amazon’s marketplace does indeed have a profit margin which is below the 10 per cent threshold level the G7 agreed companies need to have to be included in the new tax deal. But, perhaps anticipating the outrage from the public if Amazon were not included, the G7 decided to bring into scope another part of Amazon’s business: Amazon Web Services. It has a profit margin of 30 per cent and so comfortably meets the threshold.
Do you want to read more questions and answers on the G7 tax deal? The conversation happened in the comments below, so read on.