On July 1, 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secured the votes of 130 members out of 139 members of the Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar plan to reform the global tax rules. Notably, two African countries—Kenya and Nigeria—, active members of the Inclusive Framework withheld their support for this plan, which has been described by many as “historic”. Nigeria is a major economic force in West Africa and the largest economy, by GDP, on the African continent. Kenya is East Africa’s gateway and the region’s largest economy. What must have influenced their decisions not to support a historic global tax reform, and what are the consequences of such action?
The primary objective of this post is to highlight the importance and gravity of the existing tax evasion in Latin America and the Caribbean today. A study conducted by Santiago Diaz de Sarralde Miguez reports that Latin America and the Caribbean are characterized by a relatively low tax burden, which averages 22.8% of GDP. That is 11.5% less than the OECD (2015). While it is true that there are large differences between countries, as the tax burden varies from 12.4% in Guatemala to 38.6% in Cuba.
African countries should consider alternatives to the arm’s length principle. A viable alternative to the arm’s length principle: the unitary taxation (formulary apportionment) approach should be considered. This approach looks in detail at the economic activities resulting into the profits of MNCs for tax purposes. Under this approach, tax authorities in Africa will justifiably impose corporate income taxes on “actual” profits of MNCs accruing form economic activities carried out in their jurisdictions, thereby eliminating the opportunities for base erosion and profit shifting in Africa.