Chapter 7: Effects of VAT on financial services
In the ongoing debates on taxation of international businesses, frequent reference is made to the importance of the role of transparency in tax matters in establishing a level playing field between competing jurisdictions. The issues around base erosion and profits shifting (BEPS) associated with the activities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) has over the last twelve months attracted considerable media exposure to the usually dry area of taxation. Although it is not entirely a new phenomenon, anybody regularly reading the business press cannot fail to be aware of the tax minimisation strategies used by some of the largest MNEs, many of whom are household names. Although public concerns usually start in one country with political voices focusing on the paltry contributions made by large businesses to national exchequers, this spreads quickly to other countries and triggers wider political concerns about how businesses are taxed. The process has been driven at least in part by the global economic downturn and where few countries were spared from the pressures on public revenues which extended to even the richest economies. Concerns about sustaining public revenue and disquiet about unequal burden sharing has driven public discussion about whether businesses are paying a fair contribution in taxes to the societies in which they operate. Against this background, last year’s gathering of the G20 in Saint Petersburg saw concerns about the security of tax revenues translated into demands for action.
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