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A New Framework For Digital Taxation, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Young Ran (Christine) Kim, Karen Sam Jan 2022

A New Framework For Digital Taxation, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Young Ran (Christine) Kim, Karen Sam

Articles

The international tax regime has wide implications for business, trade, and the international political economy. Under current law, multinational enterprises do not pay their fair share of taxes to market countries where profits are generated because market countries are only allowed to tax companies with a physical presence there. Digital companies, like Google and Amazon, can operate entirely online, thereby avoiding market country taxes. Multinationals can also exploit existing tax rules by shifting their profits to low-tax jurisdictions, thereby avoiding taxes in the residence country where their headquarters are located.

Recently, a global tax deal was reached to tackle these …


Taxation And Business: The Human Rights Dimension Of Corporate Tax Practices, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Sep 2021

Taxation And Business: The Human Rights Dimension Of Corporate Tax Practices, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Book Chapters

The response of both developed and developing countries to global developments has been first, to shift the tax burden from (mobile) capital to (less mobile) labour, and second, when further increased taxation of labour becomes politically and economically difficult, to cut government services. Thus, globalization and tax competition lead to a fiscal crisis for countries that wish to continue to provide those government services to their citizens, at the same time that demographic factors and increased income inequality, job insecurity and income volatility that result from globalization render such services more necessary. This chapter argues that if government service programs …


Lecture In Human Rights: Tax Policy, Global Economics, Labor And Justice In Light Of Covid-19, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Apr 2021

Lecture In Human Rights: Tax Policy, Global Economics, Labor And Justice In Light Of Covid-19, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

International Tax Law has extensive ramifications on the wealth gap between wealthy developed nations and poor developing nations. This divide in prosperity has been made clear again in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing nations are currently ill-equipped to adapt to, and regulate, an equitable system of taxation on a domestic level. A further challenge is the difficulty of ensuring that foreign investors, especially multinational corporations, are able to comply with tax regulations. Developed nations such as the United States and members of the European Union must continue to work with developing nations to reduce tax evasion and …


Federalizing Tax Justice, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Orli Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien, Hayian Xu Feb 2021

Federalizing Tax Justice, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Orli Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien, Hayian Xu

Articles

The United States is the only large federal country that does not have an explicit way to reduce the economic disparities among more and less developed regions. In Germany, for example, federal revenues are distributed by a formula that takes into account the relative level of wealth of each state (the so-called Finanzausgleich, or fiscal equalization). Similar mechanisms are found in Australia, Canada, India, and other large federal countries. The United States, on the other hand, has no such explicit redistribution. Each state is generally considered equal and sovereign, and the federal government does not distribute revenues to equalize …


Due Diligence In International Tax Law, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Jan 2021

Due Diligence In International Tax Law, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Book Chapters

This chapter describes how the due diligence standard was developed in international tax law before 2008, and then how the standard was greatly modified after the financial crisis, the enactment of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 (FATCA), and the subsequent development of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS). The chapter outlines how the due diligence concept is applied to private actors, especially financial institutions, to prevent tax evasion. It ends with some conclusions including that while due diligence in international tax law is currently embodied in a specific set of rules, there remains an absence of an overarching …


Multinational Activity In The Modern World, James R. Hines Jr., Fritz C. Foley, Raymond J. Malatoni Jr., David Wessel Jan 2021

Multinational Activity In The Modern World, James R. Hines Jr., Fritz C. Foley, Raymond J. Malatoni Jr., David Wessel

Book Chapters

Multinational corporations are the global goliaths of modern times. These entities collectively are responsible for large portions of world production, employment, investment, international trade, research, and innovation. Although their economic impact is most pronounced in high-income countries, where their activities have been concentrated historically, their reach increasingly extends to every corner of the world. Decisions made by these firms affect not only those who work for them, buy from them, do business with them, and compete with them, but also communities and countries in which they are located. As a result, their operations and activities are subjects of considerable interest …


Principles For Policymakers, James R. Hines Jr. Jan 2021

Principles For Policymakers, James R. Hines Jr.

Book Chapters

Multinational corporations are global goliaths, but they have not conquered the world, nor are they responsible for every economic ill, as is sometimes alleged. These firms contribute to global prosperity by improving productivity and efficiency, innovating, and creating jobs-mostly good jobs-in both home and host countries. Governments lavish attention on multinational corporations, seeking the good that accompanies their investments even as policymakers worry about the influence multinational firms have on the local environment, social conditions, and politics. In this regard, governments face the tradeoffs that commonly afflict economic policymaking. Efforts to control the actions of multinational firms typically come at …


The Worst Tax Law Ever Enacted?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2021

The Worst Tax Law Ever Enacted?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

Some tax laws are worse than others. The 1986 Tax Reform Act is generally considered one of the best. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is generally considered one of the worst, although I would say it is too early to tell what its long-term impact might be, and some of its worst features (like the Code Sec. 199A deduction) might be repealed in the future.

Another example of a generally condemned tax law is the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. This law was a must-pass piece of legislation because Congress needed to react to the sanctions imposed …


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 (TCJA), the OECD …


Tax Treaties, The Constitution, And The Noncompulsory Payment Rule, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2020

Tax Treaties, The Constitution, And The Noncompulsory Payment Rule, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

US Tax treaties have been regarded as self-executing since the first treaty (with France) was ratified in 1932. Rebecca Kysar has argued this raises a doubt on whether the treaties are constitutional, because tax treaties (like other treaties) are negotiated by the executive branch and ratified by the Senate with no involvement by the House, and all tax-raising measures must originate in the House under the Origination Clause (U.S. Const. Art I, section 7, clause 7). Her preferred solution is to make tax treaties non-self executing, but that would reverse the universal practice since 1932, and is therefore unlikely. Moreover, …


Constructive Dialogue: Beps And The Tcja, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Feb 2020

Constructive Dialogue: Beps And The Tcja, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

US international tax law is commonly conceived as developed in the US and influencing the development of other countries' international tax law. This paper will argue that in the case of the TCJA, the US legislation was heavily influenced by the OECD BEPS project, and that the continuing OECD work in Pillars I and II is likely to have a similar influence on the future development of US international tax law.


Amazon Goldcrest Project And The Relevance Of Comparability Analysis Under The Arm's Length Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2019

Amazon Goldcrest Project And The Relevance Of Comparability Analysis Under The Arm's Length Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

The arm’s length principle, which has long been the guiding rule in the area of transfer pricing, in recent years is increasingly challenged. One of the focus points of discussion is the comparability analysis of intra-group and independent transactions. Especially intangibles do not lend themselves to such analysis, because they are unique in a way that does not match with existent market equilibria. The analysis of the Amazon case in this article reflects this argument.


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 tax …


Beps, Atap And The New Tax Dialogue: A Transatlantic Competition?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Jan 2019

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

Book Chapters

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TRA17) signed into law by President Trump on 22 December 2017 contains multiple provisions that incorporate the principles of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan (BEPS) into domestic US tax law. Together with the changes in the 2016 US Model Tax Treaty, 1 these provisions mean that the United States is following the European Union in implementing BEPS and particularly its underlying principle, the single tax principle (all income should be subject to tax once at the rate derived from the benefits principle, i.e., active income at a minimum source tax …


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 to implement the …


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 that are …


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 way …


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, where …


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.


Trade Credit And Taxes, Mihir A. Desai, C. Fritz Foley, James R. Hines Jr. Mar 2016

Trade Credit And Taxes, Mihir A. Desai, C. Fritz Foley, James R. Hines Jr.

Articles

This paper analyzes the extent to which tax differences affect the use of trade credit. U.S.-owned affiliates in low-tax countries use trade credit to lend, whereas those in high-tax countries use trade credit to borrow: 10% lower local tax rates are associated with net trade credit positions that are 1.4% higher as a fraction of sales. The use of trade credit to get capital out of low-tax, low-return environments is also illustrated by the temporary repatriation tax holiday in 2005, which was used most intensively by affiliates with positive net trade credit positions.


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 to …


All Or Nothing? The Obama Budget Proposals And Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2015

All Or Nothing? The Obama Budget Proposals And Beps, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Articles

There is a wide bipartisan consensus that the U.S. international tax regime is broken. We have the highest corporate tax in the OECD, which at 35 percent imposes a real burden on corporations earning mostly U.S.-source income. At the same time, U.S.-based multinationals pay very low effective tax rates on foreign-source income earned through their subsidiaries, leading to a strong incentive to shift profits out of the United States. Finally, the United States is among the few countries to fully tax dividends paid by foreign subsidiaries to their domestic parents, leading to the “trapped income” phenomenon in which $2 trillion …


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 …