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A Positive Dialectic: Beps And The United States, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Sep 2020

A Positive Dialectic: Beps And The United States, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

This essay addresses the interaction between the changes in the international tax regime identified by Mason and U.S. international tax policy. Specifically, I will argue that contrary to the general view, the United States actively implemented the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) recommendations through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). Moreover, the changes of the TCJA influenced the current OECD effort of BEPS 2.0. Thus, the current state of affairs can be characterized as a constructive dialogue: The OECD moves (BEPS 1), the United States responds ...


Inter Vivos Transfers Of Ownership In Family Firms, James R. Hines Jr., Niklas Potrafke, Marina Riem, Christoph Schinke Apr 2019

Inter Vivos Transfers Of Ownership In Family Firms, James R. Hines Jr., Niklas Potrafke, Marina Riem, Christoph Schinke

Articles

This paper examines the determinants of inter vivos (lifetime) transfers of ownership in German family firms between 2000 and 2013. Survey evidence indicates that owners of firms with strong current business conditions transfer ownership at higher rates than others. When a firm’s self-described business condition improves from “normal” to “good,” the relative likelihood of an inter vivos transfer increases by 46 percent. Inter vivos transfer rates also rose following a 2009 reform that reduced transfer taxes. These patterns suggest that transfer taxes significantly influence rates and timing of inter vivos ownership transfers.


The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, And Glitches Under The 2017 Tax Legislation, David Kamin, David Gamage, Ari Glogower, Rebecca Kysar, Darien Shanske, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Lily Batchelder, J. Clifton Fleming, Daniel Hemel, Mitchell Kane, David Miller, Daniel Shaviro, Manoj Viswanathan Feb 2019

The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, And Glitches Under The 2017 Tax Legislation, David Kamin, David Gamage, Ari Glogower, Rebecca Kysar, Darien Shanske, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Lily Batchelder, J. Clifton Fleming, Daniel Hemel, Mitchell Kane, David Miller, Daniel Shaviro, Manoj Viswanathan

Articles

The 2017 tax legislation brought sweeping changes to the rules for taxing individuals and business, the deductibility of state and local taxes, and the international tax regime. The complex legislation was drafted and passed through a rushed and secretive process intended to limit public comment on one of the most consequential pieces of domestic policy enacted in recent history. This Article is an effort to supply the analysis and deliberation that should have accompanied the bill’s consideration and passage, and describes key problem areas in the new legislation. Many of the new changes fundamentally undermine the integrity of the ...


Beps, Atap, And The New Tax Dialogue: "A Transatlantic Competition?", Reuven Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Sep 2018

Beps, Atap, And The New Tax Dialogue: "A Transatlantic Competition?", Reuven Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Articles

Since its launch in 2013, the US actively participated in all aspects of the BEPS project. However, until recently, the general view was that following the conclusion of the BEPS negotiations and the change of Administration the US is stepping back from the BEPS process. While the EU was charging ahead with implementing BEPS through the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD), the US stated that it was already in compliance with all BEPS minimum standards and therefore other than Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR) it had no further BEPS obligations. The US decided not to sign the Multilateral Instrument (MLI) to implement BEPS ...


The International Provisions Of The Tcja: Six Results After Six Months, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Aug 2018

The International Provisions Of The Tcja: Six Results After Six Months, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Over six months have passed since the enactment of the TCJA, so it is now possible to reach some preliminary conclusions on its impact. The main ones are:

1. The transition tax plus anticipated GILTI tax minus territoriality have resulted in higher GAAP effective tax rates for 2017. In some cases they approach 35% for large multinationals with a lot of offshore income. For the first six months of 2018, however, overall corporate tax revenues are sharply down because of the 21% rate plus expensing. This is the exact reverse of the situation before TCJA in which MNEs showed very ...


China And Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu Jan 2018

China And Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu

Articles

This article provides an overview of China’s reaction to the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. From 2013 to 2015, the OECD developed a series of actions designed to address BEPS activities by multinational enterprises, culminating in a final report of 15 action steps. The article reviews and explains China’s reaction to the BEPS project and its actions in detail, with a particular focus on transfer pricing issues. It shows that China has actively participated in both developing and implementing the BEPS project. The article further suggests that in the post-BEPS era, China is expected ...


Evaluating Beps, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu Aug 2017

Evaluating Beps, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu

Articles

This article evaluates the recently completed Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project of the G20 and OECD and offers some alternatives for reform.


Problems With Destination-Based Corporate Taxes And The Ryan Blueprint, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Kimberly Clausing Apr 2017

Problems With Destination-Based Corporate Taxes And The Ryan Blueprint, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Kimberly Clausing

Articles

With the election of Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s domination of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s blueprint for fundamental tax reform requires more careful analysis. The Ryan blueprint combines reduced individual rates with a destination-based cash flow type business tax applicable to all businesses. The destination-based business tax at the center of the blueprint has several major problems: It is incompatible with our WTO obligations, it is incompatible with our tax treaties, and it will not eliminate the problems of income shifting and inversions it is designed to address. In addition, these proposals generate vexing technical problems ...


International Tax Avoidance -- Introduction, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2017

International Tax Avoidance -- Introduction, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

Tax avoidance and evasion is a hot topic. On the evasion (illegal activity by individuals) front, the various leaks culminating in the Panama Papers have once again revealed the scope of evasion by the global elite. Gabriel Zucman conservatively estimated the annual revenue loss at $200 billion. On the tax avoidance (legal activity by corporations) front, the OECD BEPS project has estimated the scope of avoidance by multinationals at between $100 and $240 billion per year. By comparison, total US corporate tax revenues are about $400 billion per year. The articles in this volume reflect various aspects of these troubling ...


Gaars And The Nexus Between Statutory Interpretation And Legislative Drafting: Lessons For The U.S. From Canada, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Amir Pichhadze Mar 2017

Gaars And The Nexus Between Statutory Interpretation And Legislative Drafting: Lessons For The U.S. From Canada, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Amir Pichhadze

Articles

Rules targeting specific known schemes are not the only tools available in the battle against tax avoidance. Legal systems also use measures that apply generally. The U.S. for example has tended to rely heavily on general doctrines. One such doctrine which is discussed in part 2 of this chapter is the “economic substance” doctrine. Yet as Xiong and Evans recently pointed out “although such judicial doctrines can be used to deal with various aspects of complicated tax abuse judges tended sometimes to limit and sometimes to enlarge the scope of jurisprudential interpretation leading to substantial uncertainty and risk.” One ...


Formulary Apportionment And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Zachee Pouga Tinhaga Jan 2017

Formulary Apportionment And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Zachee Pouga Tinhaga

Book Chapters

Any proposal to adopt unitary taxation (UT) of multinationals has to contend with whether such taxation is compatible with existing international tax rules, and, in particular, with the bilateral tax treaty network. Indeed, some researchers have argued that the separate accounting (SA) method and the arm’s length standard (ALS), introduced in the early twentieth century, are so embodied in the treaties that they form part of customary international law, and are binding even in the absence of a treaty. We disagree, because the unitary approach is just as widely embodied in most of the current international tax treaties, and ...


Country By Country Reporting And Corporate Privacy: Some Unanswered Questions, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Dec 2016

Country By Country Reporting And Corporate Privacy: Some Unanswered Questions, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

Corporate privacy is an oxymoron. Individuals have a right to privacy, which the Supreme Court has recognized at least since Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Warren and Brandeis’ famous defense of the right to privacy (1890) clearly applied only to individuals, because only individuals have the kind of feelings that are affected by invasions of privacy. Corporations are legal entities, and the concept of privacy does not apply to them, as the Supreme Court held in 1906. Thus, any objection to making corporate tax returns public cannot rest on the right to privacy. In fact, corporate returns were made public in ...


Multinational Firms And Tax Havens, Anna Gumpert, James R. Hines Jr., Monika Schnitzer Oct 2016

Multinational Firms And Tax Havens, Anna Gumpert, James R. Hines Jr., Monika Schnitzer

Articles

Multinational firms with operations in high-tax countries can benefit the most from reallocating taxable income to tax havens, though this is sufficiently difficult and costly that only 20.4% of German multinational firms have any tax haven affiliates. Among German manufacturing firms, a 1 percentage point higher foreign tax rate is associated with a 2.3% greater likelihood of owning a tax haven affiliate. This is consistent with tax avoidance incentives and contrasts with earlier evidence for U.S. firms. The relationship is less strong for firms in service industries, possibly reflecting the difficulty of reallocating taxable service income.


Full Circle? The Single Tax Principle, Beps, And The New Us Model, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2016

Full Circle? The Single Tax Principle, Beps, And The New Us Model, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

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.”


Evaluating Beps: A Reconsideration Of The Benefits Principle And Proposal For Un Oversight, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu Jan 2016

Evaluating Beps: A Reconsideration Of The Benefits Principle And Proposal For Un Oversight, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Haiyan Xu

Articles

The Financial Crisis of 2008 and Great Recession that followed have exacerbated income inequality within and between countries. In the aftermath of the economic turbulence, politicians have turned their attention to the twin problems of individual tax evasion and corporate tax avoidance. U.S. legislators enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), leading to the United States signing a series of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) for the exchange of tax information. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) developed the Multilateral Agreement for Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAATM) and initiated the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project ...


Who Invented The Single Tax Principle?: An Essay On The History Of Us Treaty Policy, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2015

Who Invented The Single Tax Principle?: An Essay On The History Of Us Treaty Policy, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

In 1997, I wrote an article on the international tax challenges posed by the then-nascent electronic commerce, in which I suggested that the international tax regime is based on two principles: the benefits principle and the single tax principle. The benefits principle states that active (business) income should be taxed primarily by the country of source, and passive (investment) income should be taxed primarily by the country of residence. This is the famous compromise reached by the four economists at the foundation of the regime in 1923 and is not particularly controversial. It is embodied in every one of the ...


A Model Treaty For The Age Of Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Oz Halabi Jan 2014

A Model Treaty For The Age Of Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Oz Halabi

Law & Economics Working Papers

The OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project promises to bring about the most fundamental changes in the international tax regime since its inception in the 1920s. The fundamental idea behind the various BEPS projects is that the OECD has fully embraced the idea that double non-taxation can have as deleterious consequences as double taxation and that therefore the various aspects of the current rules that enable multinational enterprises (MNEs) to achieve double non-taxation should be reconsidered.

The BEPS Action Plan, adopted by the OECD in July 2013, sets an ambitious time table for the various items, which ...


Igas Vs. Maatm: Has Tax Bilateralism Outlived Its Usefulness?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gil Savir Jan 2014

Igas Vs. Maatm: Has Tax Bilateralism Outlived Its Usefulness?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gil Savir

Law & Economics Working Papers

The main concern about the IGAs is that they enshrine the bilateral model of tax information exchange that has dominated the 20th century. Unfortunately, there are good reasons to believe this bilateral model does not work, especially when IGAs are signed with countries like the Cayman Islands who have no interest in reciprocity and every interest in making them not work.

Instead, there is an alternative. In response to the financial crisis and the outrage it caused in Europe about tax evasion by the wealthy, the OECD has proposed a Multilateral Agreement for Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAATM), which ...


How Serious Is The Problem Of Base Erosion And Profit Shifting?, James R. Hines Jr. Jan 2014

How Serious Is The Problem Of Base Erosion And Profit Shifting?, James R. Hines Jr.

Articles

In recent years, the problem of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) by multinational corporations has entered the public consciousness as a potentially important impediment to tax collections. The purpose of this article is to identify the nature of BEPS, consider empirical evidence of its magnitude, and evaluate proposed policy responses. There is considerable evidence that multinational firms arrange their affairs in a tax-sensitive manner, from which it is easy—indeed, perhaps a little too easy—to infer that beps is a serious problem. There are journalistic accounts of apparently spectacular international tax-avoidance schemes used by multinational corporations, though these ...


Why Y? Reflections On The Baucus Proposal, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

Why Y? Reflections On The Baucus Proposal, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The international tax reform proposal introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) on November 19, 2013 contains several significant innovations that promise to define the terms of the debate for the foreseeable political future. It is therefore worth examining in detail even if it seems unlikely that progress toward meaningful reform can be achieved very soon. The major component of the proposal is a move toward territoriality coupled with two alternative anti-profit shifting options, option Y and option Z. This article will argue that option Y represents a significant step forward and can be the basis of adopting a territorial regime ...


And Yet It Moves: A Tax Paradigm For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

And Yet It Moves: A Tax Paradigm For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

A central premise of tax scholarship of the last thirty years has been the greater mobility of capital than labor. Recently, scholars such as Edward Kleinbard have recommended that the US adopt a variant of the 'dual income tax' model used by the Scandinavian countries, under which income from capital is subject to significantly lower rates than labor income because of its supposedly greater mobility. This article argues that the premise upon which this argument is built is mistaken, because for individual US taxpayers (as opposed to corporations), there are significant limitations on their ability to avoid tax by moving ...


Unitary Taxation And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

Unitary Taxation And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Any proposal to adopt Unitary Taxation (UT) of multinationals has to contend with whether such taxation is compatible with existing international tax rules and in particular with the bilateral tax treaty network. Indeed, some researchers have argued that the separate accounting (SA) method and the arm’s length standard are so embodied in the treaties that they form part of customary international law and are binding even in the absence of a treaty. In this paper we will argue that UT can be compatible with most of the existing tax treaties, and that developing countries in particular can implement it ...


Corporate And International Tax Reform: Proposals For The Second Obama Administration (And Beyond), Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

Corporate And International Tax Reform: Proposals For The Second Obama Administration (And Beyond), Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

The passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) offers an opportune moment to consider proposals for corporate and international tax reform. With the debate over individual tax rates for the income and estate tax settled for the present, the President and Congress are free to consider broader reforms. Few observers doubt that such reforms are sorely needed, for several reasons. First, the long-term budgetary outlook is unsustainable. Second, the U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Third, the current system raises relatively little revenue and large amounts ...


International Taxation And Competitiveness: Introduction And Overview, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nicola Sartori May 2012

International Taxation And Competitiveness: Introduction And Overview, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nicola Sartori

Law & Economics Working Papers

The debate about whether to abolish deferral or to adopt territoriality has been going on ever since the Kennedy Administration first proposed ending deferral in 1961. The problem is that neither side has factual support for their argument about whether the U.S. tax system, including Subpart F, as currently enacted or with any of the proposed reforms, in fact negatively impacts the tax burden of US-based MNEs. Even the concept of competitiveness itself is unclear. Despite numerous claims, there has been no rigorous attempt that we are aware of to determine whether MNEs based in our major trading partners ...


Symposium On International Taxation And Competitiveness: Introduction And Overview, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nicola Sartori Jan 2012

Symposium On International Taxation And Competitiveness: Introduction And Overview, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nicola Sartori

Articles

In February, 2012, the Treasury and White House unveiled President Obama's Framework for Business Tax Reform. A major proposal was to abolish the deferral on income earned by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations ("CFCs").


Transfer Pricing Disputes In The United States, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2012

Transfer Pricing Disputes In The United States, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Book Chapters

In 1988, the US Treasury Department published a study of inter-company pricing (the 'White Paper') that included the following endorsement of the so-called arm's length standard (ALS) for examining the reasonableness of transactions between related parties for tax purposes: The arm's length standard is embodied in all U.S. tax treaties; it is in each major model treaty, including the U.S. Model Convention; it is incorporated into most tax treaties to which the United States is not a party; it has been explicitly adopted by international organizations that have addressed themselves to transfer pricing issues; and virtually ...


The Tax Revenue Capacity Of The U.S. Economy, James R. Hines Jr. Jan 2012

The Tax Revenue Capacity Of The U.S. Economy, James R. Hines Jr.

Book Chapters

The United States imposes smaller tax burdens than do other large high-income countries, its 24.8 percent ratio of tax collections to GDP in 2010 representing the lowest fraction among the G-7. The United States also differs from other G-7 countries in relying relatively little on expenditure-type taxes. It follows that there is significant unused tax capacity in the United States that could be deployed to pay the country’s debts, but that the most promising source of additional tax revenue is expenditure taxation that is widely perceived to have very different distributional features than the income taxes on which ...


The Effective Tax Rate Of The Largest Us And Eu Multinationals, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yaron Lahav Jan 2012

The Effective Tax Rate Of The Largest Us And Eu Multinationals, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yaron Lahav

Articles

The United States has the second highest statutory corporate tax rate in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) (after Japan).1 This has not always been the case. After the Tax Reform Act of 1986 lowered the U.S. rate from 46% to 34%,2 the United States had one of the lowest statutory corporate tax rates in the OECD.3 In the past twenty-five years, however, the U.S. rate has remained essentially unchanged (it was raised to 35% in 1993),4 while most other OECD countries reduced their statutory rate so that the OECD average statutory ...


The Effective Tax Rate Of The Largest Us And Eu Multinationals, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yaron Lahav Oct 2011

The Effective Tax Rate Of The Largest Us And Eu Multinationals, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yaron Lahav

Law & Economics Working Papers

This paper compares the effective tax rates of the 100 largest US multinationals to the 100 largest EU multinationals for the period 2001-2010, based on financial disclosures. The paper finds that despite the higher US statutory rate the effective tax rates are comparable and that EU multinationals tend to have a higher effective tax rate. The likely explanation is that EU corporate taxes have a broader base. The paper concludes that current US tax law does not subject US based multinationals to a competitive disadvantage against their EU based competitors.


Tax Policy And The Efficiency Of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad, Mihir A. Desai, C. Fritz Foley, James R. Hines Jr. Jan 2011

Tax Policy And The Efficiency Of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad, Mihir A. Desai, C. Fritz Foley, James R. Hines Jr.

Articles

Deferral of U.S. taxes on foreign source income is commonly characterized as a subsidy to foreign investment, as reflected in its inclusion among “tax expenditures” and occasional calls for its repeal. This paper analyzes the extent to which tax deferral and other policies inefficiently subsidize U.S. direct investment abroad. Investments are dynamically inefficient if they consistently generate less in returns to investors than they absorb in new investment funds. From 1982–2010, repatriated earnings from foreign affiliates exceeded net capital investments by $1.1 trillion in 2010 dollars, and from 1950–2010, repatriated earnings and net interest from ...