Za pravično obdavčitev multinacionalk

Joseph Stiglitz s kolegi je naslovil odprto pismo na ameriškega predsednika Josepha Bidena, da uveljavi pravično obdavčitev ameriških multinacionalk. Za začetek predlagajo minimalno stopnjo davka na dobiček 21% ne glede na to, ker podružnice ameriških multinacionalk ustvarjajo dobičke. V splošnem pa predlagajo, da se v mednarodnih pogajanjih o obdavčitvi dobičkov multinacionalk uvede minimalna stopnja davka na dobiček v višini 25%, kar bi onemogočalo multinacionalkam, da skrivajo dobičke po davčnih oazah oziroma državah s posebno davčno ureditvijo (Irska, Luksemburg, Nizozemska, Ciper, Malta itd.).

For too long, international institutions have failed to deal with one of the most toxic aspects of globalization: tax avoidance and evasion by multinational corporations. Fair taxation of multinationals is needed to create the type of societies that we aspire to, and it must be a central part of any progressive tax system aimed at driving economic growth and creating high living standards for all. Ending corporate tax avoidance is also one of the best ways to tackle rampant inequality of wealth and income.

By shifting their profits to tax havens, large companies deprive governments worldwide of at least $240 billion per year in fiscal revenues. This shortfall affects not only the United States, where some 50% of overseas profits made by US multinationals are transferred to tax havens each year, but also the Global South, where revenue sources are more limited and hence reliance on corporate tax receipts to fund public services is greater.

The negotiating process has, nonetheless, reached agreement that multinationals should be considered unitary businesses. This means that their worldwide profits should be taxed in line with their real activities in each country. This is a familiar concept in the US, where corporate profits are allocated to different states on a formulaic basis, according to the key factors that generate profit: employment, sales, and assets. But the current proposal applies this allocation criterion to only a small share of a firm’s global profits – particularly those of highly digitalized multinationals, which are mainly US-based.

This system should be supported by a global minimum tax on multinationals, putting an end to harmful tax competition between countries and reducing the incentive for multinationals to shift profits to tax havens. But the 12.5% minimum rate being discussed at the OECD and elsewhere could become the global ceiling, in which case the laudable initiative to oblige multinationals to bear their fair share of taxes would end up doing the opposite.

Your campaign promised to raise the US minimum tax on US corporations’ foreign earnings (known as “GILTI”) to 21%. This measure would not only have the merit of increasing your country’s fiscal resources; it would also provide the political support for other countries’ policymakers to follow suit.

An ambitious global minimum tax could be a game changer in the fight against tax avoidance. If G20 countries were to agree to impose a 25% minimum corporate tax (as the ICRICT advocates) on the global income of their multinational firms, more than 90% of worldwide profits would automatically be taxed at 25% or more. Of course, it is also essential that such a tax should be designed to allocate taxing rights fairly between firms’ home and host countries.

Vir: Joseph Stiglitz et al, Project Syndicate

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