Critique comes cheaply, one may retort, but the current state of affairs is not better. Rogue countries (ironically again, led by the purported leaders of the OECD, such as the United Kingdom and France) were able to capture a share of what they believe they “deserve” in the form of taxation of the large tech MNE in various forms of “new” taxes that are supposedly external to the international tax regime and therefore not viewed as its violation.
International Tax Regime
As long as national tax systems develop in response to unique social and administrative pressures, jurisdictions will continue to rely on tax systems that exhibit at least as many differences as similarities. Tax harmonization represents the traditional answer to that entropic pressure, reflecting a confidence that nations can avoid international tax conflicts by becoming more like one another. Unfortunately, in part because many of the jurisdictions that populate today's international tax landscape have little in common, it seems that harmonization is no longer equal to the task. This Part introduces the concept of deharmonization, an alternative to harmonization that may be more robust.
There is no room for experts from affluent countries to swoop in and tell less affluent countries what they ought to do to reform their tax systems. Instead, experts from wealthy countries need to take tax policy spillovers seriously and correct the systemic flaws in the international tax regime that make it hard for some countries to tax effectively. This is, in my view, crucial to forming an acceptable international social contract going forward.
Developing countries are currently disadvantaged in the international tax regime. The control of the developed countries in the tax regime is evidenced in their influence in the creation of the major model tax treaties that are used as the starting point for nearly all bilateral tax treaties today. With the rise of multilateral tax instruments and an awareness of the dubious flow of tax revenue out of already disadvantaged countries, developing countries should consider renegotiating their bilateral tax treaties to ensure a more balanced international tax system that is designed for their benefit.