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The Historical Origins Of The Multilateral Tax Convention, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Eran Lempert Mar 2023

The Historical Origins Of The Multilateral Tax Convention, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Eran Lempert

Law & Economics Working Papers

This paper will survey the efforts to create a multilateral tax convention (MTC) from the beginnings of the international tax regime to the present day. The paper’s main contribution is to provide a historical analysis of the (failed) efforts to create a MTC from the beginnings of the ITR until the League of Nations (as contained in Part 1 to this paper). Part 2 of the paper serves to provide a brief modern context to the historical analysis from Part 1, covering why the multilateral instrument (MLI) that was included in BEPS 1.0 is not a true MTC, and secondly …


A Response To Professor Choi’S Beyond Purposivism In Tax Law, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2023

A Response To Professor Choi’S Beyond Purposivism In Tax Law, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This response to Professor Choi’s excellent article questions whether the proposals made by the article can solve the tax shelter problem, and argues that a better response is to bolster purposivism with a statutory general anti-abuse rule (GAAR).


What Would Surrey Say? The Long Reach Of Stanley S. Surrey, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien Mar 2023

What Would Surrey Say? The Long Reach Of Stanley S. Surrey, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien

Law & Economics Working Papers

This essay examines the extent of Surrey’s influence on developments in tax law after his death. It argues that his ideas clearly impacted the tax reform of 1986, but can even be seen in later enactments like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and contemporary developments in international taxation. This in turn enables us to get a clearer perspective on what Surrey aimed to achieve and what the goals of these later developments are.


After Pillar One, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2023

After Pillar One, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Pillar One is unlikely to succeed for three reasons. First, it requires an MTC to be implemented because Amount A requires overriding Articles 5 (Permanent Establishment, PE), 7 (Business Profits) and 9 (Associated Enterprises) of every tax treaty to abolish the PE and Arm’s Length Principle (ALP) limits enshrined therein. But negotiating an MTC is hard, especially when over 100 countries are involved and there are fundamental disagreements among them.

Second, because Pillar One (despite its October 2021 expansion) is still aimed primarily at taxing the US digital giants (Big Tech), it is hard to envisage it being implemented without …


Tax Harmony: The Promise And Pitfalls Of The Global Minimum Tax, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Young Ran (Christine) Kim May 2022

Tax Harmony: The Promise And Pitfalls Of The Global Minimum Tax, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Young Ran (Christine) Kim

Law & Economics Working Papers

The rise of globalization has become a double-edged sword for countries seeking to implement a beneficial tax policy. On one hand, there are increased opportunities for attracting foreign capital and the benefits that increased jobs and tax revenue brings to a society. However, there is also much more tax competition among countries to attract foreign capital and investment. As tax competition has grown, effective corporate tax rates have continued to be cut, creating a “race-to-the-bottom” issue.

In 2021, 137 countries forming the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS passed a major milestone in reforming international tax by successfully introducing the framework …


New Developments In Us Treaty Overrides, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2022

New Developments In Us Treaty Overrides, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This note discusses the reservations added in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to the US-Chile tax treaty and their implications for the treaty override debate.


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

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

Law & Economics Working Papers

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 …


No New Tax Cuts? Examining The Rescue Plan's New State Tax Limits, Conor Clarke, Edward G. Fox Jan 2022

No New Tax Cuts? Examining The Rescue Plan's New State Tax Limits, Conor Clarke, Edward G. Fox

Law & Economics Working Papers

In this article, Clarke and Fox examine the American Rescue Plan Act’s restrictions on state tax cuts, arguing that the restrictions are a variation on more familiar maintenance-of-effort provisions. These provisions are common, and are designed to help ensure that federal grants supplement rather than supplant state spending by requiring the state to maintain its level of spending on a program. Clarke and Fox conclude that the Rescue Plan’s requirements create similar incentives, and argue that the similarity makes it more likely that the act’s tax provisions are consonant with the Constitution’s spending clause.


Taxing Nomads: Reviving Citizenship-Based Taxation For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2022

Taxing Nomads: Reviving Citizenship-Based Taxation For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The COVID pandemic and the rise of zooming has increased the ability of many people (primarily the rich) to work remotely. This in turn has led to more people moving to other countries to benefit from the ability to work remotely while enjoying other benefits such as lower housing prices, a more leisurely lifestyle, and in some cases greater political stability. Many Americans have used their newfound freedom to move overseas, e.g., to Italy. They and others like them are the new nomads.

Such a move is not tax motivated because Italy has higher personal tax rates than the US. …


The New International Tax Regime, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Oct 2021

The New International Tax Regime, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

On October 8, 2021, over 130 countries committed themselves to the most far-reaching changes in the international tax regime since its inception in 1923. Slated to begin on the anniversary year of 2023, this new regime (ITR 2.0) adopts significant changes from the old one (ITR 1.0). Specifically, ITR 2.0 eliminates the physical presence requirement and the arm’s length standard for a significant portion of the profits of large multinationals that have been essential elements of ITR 1.0 since the 1930s, in a way that is more consistent with ITR 1.0’s Benefits Principle (BP). ITR 2.0 also explicitly implements the …


International Tax Law- Status Quo, Trends And Perspectives, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Aug 2021

International Tax Law- Status Quo, Trends And Perspectives, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This chapter will argue that developments in the past decade have significantly bolstered the International Tax Regime, so that it does a much better job in protecting PIT and CIT from erosion due to cross-border tax evasion and avoidance than it did before 2010. Specifically, the adoption of FATCA and the consequent development of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEI) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) have significantly protected PIT, while the OECD BEPS project has significantly improved CIT, especially if the current BEPS 2.0 effort is successfully concluded.


The International Tax Regime At 100: Reflections On The Oecd's Beps Project, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Aug 2021

The International Tax Regime At 100: Reflections On The Oecd's Beps Project, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This essay will consider the outcome of Pillars One and Two in light of the history of international taxation since the foundation of the international tax regime in 1923. Specifically, it will consider how Pillar One fits with efforts to redefine the source of active income in light of the digital revolution, and the ways in which Pillar Two implements the single tax principle, which can be traced back to the first model treaty from 1927. Both of those ideas were already articulated and developed in my own early writing on international taxation from the 1990s, when the Internet was …


Stanley Surrey, The 1981 Us Model, And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Mar 2021

Stanley Surrey, The 1981 Us Model, And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Law & Economics Working Papers

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 U.S. Model Tax Treaty as well as the 5th anniversary of the 2016 US Model Tax Treaty. The first author has repeatedly argued that the 1981 Model gave life to the single tax principle (“STP”). The 2016 Model updates effectively implemented the principle that cross-border income should be taxed once – that is not more and but also not less than once. For example, the 2016 Model does not reduce withholding taxes on payments of highly mobile income that are made to related persons that enjoy low or no taxation with respect …


Rebellion, Rascals, And Revenue: Pleasingly Gaudy And Preposterous, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2021

Rebellion, Rascals, And Revenue: Pleasingly Gaudy And Preposterous, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod’s REBELLION, RASCALS AND REVENUE: TAX FOLLIES AND WISDOM THROUGH THE AGES (Princeton University Press, 2021) is a wonderful book, which should be read by any student of taxation. To most tax policy makers and academics, tax history may seem a bit arcane, because they believe that the study of taxation and especially public finance economics is a story of progress and that we know better how to design good tax systems than our ancestors. To this attitude, Keen and Slemrod offer a decisive rejoinder: We do not necessarily understand taxation better than our predecessors, and …


Tax Treaties, The Constitution, And The Noncompulsory Payment Rule, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2021

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

Law & Economics Working Papers

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, …


The Us Taxpayer Bill Of Rights: Reflections On A Toddler, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Feb 2021

The Us Taxpayer Bill Of Rights: Reflections On A Toddler, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

In the US the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) is only seven years old, and moreover no successful challenge to the IRS under it has been brought so far. The following first describes the existing case law under the US TBOR. The main conclusion is that the US TBOR is a toddler with uncertain prospects. The article then offers some observations on the application of the TBOR to corporate taxpayers.


Is Gilti Constitutional?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Feb 2021

Is Gilti Constitutional?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

In this article, Avi-Yonah argues that the global intangible low-taxed income regime may be an unconstitutional attempt to tax the foreign-source income of foreign entities, and he offers an alternative.


Overcoming Political Polarization: Federal Funding Of Education Is The Key, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Nov 2020

Overcoming Political Polarization: Federal Funding Of Education Is The Key, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The best way of overcoming political polarization in the US (the last two elections were both decided by fewer than 100,000 votes in WI, MI, PA (2016) and WI, AZ, GA (2020)) is to reduce disparities in education. But how can we do that?

The basic problem arises from the US system of funding K-12 education from property taxes. While the picture above refers to college education, it is K-12 education that determines both college admissions and college readiness.

Thus, the only viable solution is a federal solution. As President Nixon proposed in 1972, the United States should adopt an …


Recovery For Causing Tax Overpayment - Lyeth V. Hoey And Clark Revisited, Douglas A. Kahn, Jeffrey H. Kahn Oct 2020

Recovery For Causing Tax Overpayment - Lyeth V. Hoey And Clark Revisited, Douglas A. Kahn, Jeffrey H. Kahn

Law & Economics Working Papers

The question has arisen in numerous cases as to the extent to which a settlement between arms’ length parties is dispositive in tax cases of the claims on which the settlement is based. Another issue that often arises is whether the receipt of compensation for a tax payment that was incurred because of the negligence of the payor is excluded from gross income. While those two issues were central to the proper resolution of a recent case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, McKenny v. United States, the court failed even to note one of …


A Case For Higher Corporate Tax Rates, Edward G. Fox, Zachary D. Liscow Jul 2020

A Case For Higher Corporate Tax Rates, Edward G. Fox, Zachary D. Liscow

Law & Economics Working Papers

In this report, Fox and Liscow argue that, while conventional wisdom holds that we should lower taxes on corporations because of international competition, two recent changes militate in favor of higher corporate taxes, which would close the deficit, fund social programs, and reduce inequality. First, changes in tax law have increasingly targeted the corporate tax at economic “rents,” the supersized returns that businesses receive when they enjoy advantages like market power. Because taxing rents is progressive and does little to harm economic activity, a higher rate is justified. Second, shifts in the American economy have allowed companies to earn more …


Taxes In The Time Of Coronavirus: Is It Time To Revive The Excess Profits Tax?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2020

Taxes In The Time Of Coronavirus: Is It Time To Revive The Excess Profits Tax?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

A recent NY Times headline summarizes one of the biggest economic impacts of the current pandemic: “Big Tech Could Emerge From Coronavirus Crisis Stronger Than Ever.” At a time when most American citizens and businesses suffer catastrophic economic damage from the Coronavirus Recession, some corporations such as Amazon, 3M, Gilead, and Zoom see their profits rise dramatically because of the pandemic. Given that most corporations are losing money but some are now earning excess profits due to the crisis, it is time to revive the wartime excess profits taxes that the US deployed in WW1 and WW2 to prevent the …


Covid-19 And Us Tax Policy: What Needs To Change?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Apr 2020

Covid-19 And Us Tax Policy: What Needs To Change?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The COVID-19 Pandemic already feels like a historical turning point akin to Word Wars I and II and the Great Depression. It may signal the end of the second period of globalization (1980-2020) and a change in the relative positions of the US and China. It could also lead in the US to significant changes in tax policy designed to bolster the social safety net which was revealed as very porous during the pandemic. In what follows I will first discuss some short-term effects of the pandemic and then some potential longer-term effects on US tax policy.


Taxation And Business: The Human Rights Dimension Of Corporate Tax Practices, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Apr 2020

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

Law & Economics Working Papers

If we want to narrow the North-South divide that threatens our world, some limits on tax competition are inevitable. The world faces a crucial choice in the 2020s. We can either continue retreating from globalization in favor of xenophobic nationalism, tariffs, immigration restrictions, and exchange controls. That road leads ultimately to war, as it did in the 1930s. Or we can revive globalization by investing in a robust social safety net, infrastructure, education, and job creation. While more needs to be done, we have made significant progress in curbing tax competition in the last decade. The key move now is …


Should Us Tax Law Be Constitutionalized? Centennial Reflections On Eisner V. Macomber (1920), Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Apr 2020

Should Us Tax Law Be Constitutionalized? Centennial Reflections On Eisner V. Macomber (1920), Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The US Supreme Court last decided a federal tax case on constitutional grounds in 1920, a century ago. The case was Eisner v. Macomber, and the issue was whether Congress had the power under the Sixteenth Amendment (authorizing an income tax, 1913) to include stock dividends in the tax base. The Court answered no because “income” in the Sixteenth Amendment meant “the gain derived from capital, from labor, or from both combined.” A stock dividend, since it did not increase the wealth of the shareholder, was not “income.” Macomber was never formally overruled, and it is sometime still cited by …


Why Study Tax History?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Feb 2020

Why Study Tax History?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This book review addresses the question why studying tax history is helpful to tax policy makers and practitioners.


Toward A 21st-Century International Tax Regime, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Aug 2019

Toward A 21st-Century International Tax Regime, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The OECD has been struggling to respond to countries that wish to tax large US technology companies on the basis of where their consumers live. The current OECD work program on digitalization is unlikely to produce a stable consensus or prevent countries from following the lead of France, India, Italy and the United Kingdom toward digital services taxes. The United States response should not be to target French, Indian, Italian or British companies for retaliation. Instead, the United States should consider adopting a sales-based formulary apportionment (SFA) solution that would apply to all large enterprises. Such a move is more …


If Not Now, When? Us Tax Treaties With Latin America After Tcja, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2019

If Not Now, When? Us Tax Treaties With Latin America After Tcja, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Since the 1990s, the US tax treaty network has expanded to include most large developing countries. However, there remains a glaring exception: The US only has two tax treaties in Latin America (Mexico and Venezuela), and one pending tax treaty (Chile). The traditional explanation for why the US has no treaty with, for example, Argentina or Brazil is the US refusal since 1957 to grant tax sparing credits to developing countries. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), this explanation was wrong, because the combination of deferral and cross-crediting meant that tax holidays in a source country …


Does Customary International Tax Law Exist?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah May 2019

Does Customary International Tax Law Exist?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Customary international law is law that “results from a general and consistent practice of states followed by them from a sense of legal obligation.” “International agreements create law for states parties thereto and may lead to the creation of customary international law when such agreements are intended for adherence by states generally and are in fact widely accepted.” Does customary international law (CIL) exist in tax? There are over 3,000 bilateral tax treaties, and they are about 80% identical to each other, but do they create CIL that binds in the absence of a binding treaty, like for example the …


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 …


The Beat And Treaty Overrides: A Brief Response To Rosenbloom And Shaheen, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Brett Wells Aug 2018

The Beat And Treaty Overrides: A Brief Response To Rosenbloom And Shaheen, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Brett Wells

Law & Economics Working Papers

In a recent paper posted on SSRN, Profs. David Rosenbloom and Fadi Shaheen argue that the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) (IRC section 59A), as enacted in 2017, is a potential violation of Articles 23 and 24 of US tax treaties. In addition, they argue that the BEAT does not override those treaties and therefore the treaties can be relied upon to overcome the effects of the BEAT. In our opinion, this conclusion is wrong, for two reasons. First, we believe that the BEAT is not a treaty violation. Second, we believe that even if the BEAT were found to …