Corporate taxation: Germany pursuing multinational action

With a pessimist’s outlook, the future of the EU might seem bleak: a BREXIT is looming, the Greek financial crisis is anything but finished, the refugee crisis very well might break out again and just yesterday the Dutch voted against the EU’s association treaty with the Ukraine. Germany is not anywhere near giving up on the EU, just as other countries shouldn’t yet. However, Germany traditionally – and ever more increasing over the past few years – has been making use of other multilateral organisation like G7, G20 or the OECD in trying to push the country’s agenda.

None other than German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble has been the biggest political sponsor of the OECD’s BEPS Action Plan, aiming to cut into the ability of multinational enterprises to reduce their respective tax burden globally. The effort Minister Schäuble personally has put into this issue has not been without result. The 2013 BEPS action plan has developed into a litany of single action items and G7 leaders in June 2015 pledged to finalise “concrete and feasible” recommendations by the end of last year. The EU then delved into the issue as well with the planned re-launch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), for which a proposal is expected this year, but also with a number if investigations of the commission into the tax treatments of multinationals by several member states.

Recent evidence points towards a certain persistency with which the Germany pursues the issues it has put on the international agenda. Minister Schaeuble has been very persistent and just this week will present a 10-point plan against tax evasion and money laundering at the G20/IMF spring meeting in Washington. The Panama leaks are the most recent occasion that Schaueble can use as an argument and they do not figure to be the last one. Companies should not be surprised to see alike efforts during the upcoming German G20 presidency in 2017.

In a globalised world, taking action multinationally is absolutely necessary. Too long though, multinational action looked a lot like the WTO Doha round or like the UN’s climate summits. Chaotic, slow and too heterogenous to come to an agreement. This no longer is the case. Smaller and more homogenous groups like G7, G20 or the OECD are starting crack down on some of the global issues that evade any national or bi-lateral regulation and agreements. For companies across the globe, this begs a question: Do we pay enough attention to the dealings of G7, G20, OECD and alike?

Picture Credits: Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SAWikimedia Commons
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