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Arnaud de Graaf
Professor of International Policy and Fiscal Autonomy. The author is on the staff of the Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and the Netherlands Ministry of Finance. His contribution, as guest editor, to this special issue of Erasmus Law Review was undertaken as part of the ESL research program on ‘Fiscal autonomy and its boundaries’.
Article

Access_open The Questionable Legitimacy of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2017
Keywords base erosion and profit shifting, OECD, G20, legitimacy, international tax reform
Authors Sissie Fung
AbstractAuthor's information

    The global financial crisis of 2008 and the following public uproar over offshore tax evasion and corporate aggressive tax planning scandals gave rise to unprecedented international cooperation on tax information exchange and coordination on corporate tax reforms. At the behest of the G20, the OECD developed a comprehensive package of ‘consensus-based’ policy reform measures aimed to curb base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) by multinationals and to restore fairness and coherence to the international tax system. The legitimacy of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project, however, has been widely challenged. This paper explores the validity of the legitimacy concerns raised by the various stakeholders regarding the OECD/G20 BEPS Project.


Sissie Fung
Ph.D. Candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and independent tax policy consultant to international organisations, including the Asian Development Bank.
Article

Access_open Legality of the World Bank’s Informal Decisions to Expand into the Tax Field, and Implications of These Decisions for Its Legitimacy

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2017
Keywords World Bank, legality, legitimacy, global tax governance, tax policy and tax administration reforms
Authors Uyanga Berkel-Dorlig
AbstractAuthor's information

    The emergence of global tax governance was triggered by common tax problems, which are now still being faced by international society of nation-states. In the creation of this framework, international institutions have been playing a major role. One of these institutions is the World Bank (Bank). However, those who write about the virtues and vices of the main creators of the framework usually disregard the Bank. This article, therefore, argues that this disregard is not justified because the Bank has also been playing a prominent role. Since two informal decisions taken in the past have contributed to this position of the Bank, the article gives in addition to it answers to the following two related questions: whether these informal decisions of the Bank were legal and if so, what implications, if any, they have for the Bank’s legitimacy.


Uyanga Berkel-Dorlig
Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Tax Law, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Evaluating BEPS

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords tax avoidance, tax evasion, benefits principle
Authors Reuven S. Avi-Yonah and Haiyan Xu
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article evaluates the recently completed Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project of the G20 and OECD and offers some alternatives for reform.


Reuven S. Avi-Yonah
Reuven Avi-Yonah is Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law, the University of Michigan.

Haiyan Xu
Haiyan Xu is Professor of Law, University of International Business & Economics, Beijing; SJD candidate, the University of Michigan.

    The OECD BEPS Action 6 report contains a principal purpose test rule (PPT rule) for the purpose of combating abuse of tax treaties. This PPT rule is also included in the OECD Multilateral Instrument.
    The PPT rule is (amongst others) applicable when ‘it is reasonable to conclude’ that a benefit (granted by a tax treaty) was one of the principal purposes of any arrangement/transaction. This requirement contains two elements: the reasonableness test and the principal purpose test.
    In literature it is observed that (i) the reasonableness test of the PPT rule could be contrary to the European Union’s principle of legal certainty; (ii) that the OECD PPT rule gives the tax authorities too much discretion and, therefore, is not in line with EU law and (iii) there is doubt whether the OECD PPT rule contains a genuine economic activity test and therefore is in contravention of the abuse of law case law of the CJEU.
    In this contribution, I defend that none of the above-mentioned reasons the OECD PPT rule is contrary to EU law. The only potential problem I see is that the OECD PPT rule is broader (no artificiality required) compared to the GAARs in Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive and the Parent–Subsidiary Directive.


Dennis Weber
Dennis Weber is a professor of European corporate tax law at the University of Amsterdam and director and founder of the Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law (ACTL).
Article

Access_open The Integrity of the Tax System after BEPS: A Shared Responsibility

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords flawed legislation, tax privileges, tax planning, corporate social responsibility, tax professionals
Authors Hans Gribnau
AbstractAuthor's information

    The international tax system is the result of the interaction of different actors who share the responsibility for its integrity. States and multinational corporations both enjoy to a certain extent freedom of choice with regard to their tax behaviour – which entails moral responsibility. Making, interpreting and using tax rules therefore is inevitably a matter of exercising responsibility. Both should abstain from viewing tax laws as a bunch of technical rules to be used as a tool without any intrinsic moral or legal value. States bear primary responsibility for the integrity of the international tax system. They should become more reticent in their use of tax as regulatory instrument – competing with one another for multinationals’ investment. They should also act more responsibly by cooperating to make better rules to prevent aggressive tax planning, which entails a shift in tax payments from very expert taxpayers to other taxpayers. Here, the distributive justice of the tax system and a level playing field should be guaranteed. Multinationals should abstain from putting pressure on states and lobbying for favourable tax rules that disproportionally affect other taxpayers – SMEs and individual taxpayers alike. Multinationals and their tax advisers should avoid irresponsible conduct by not aiming to pay a minimalist amount of (corporate income) taxes – merely staying within the boundaries of the letter of the law. Especially CSR-corporations should assume the responsibility for the integrity of the tax system.


Hans Gribnau
Professor of Tax Law, Fiscal Institute and the Center for Company Law, Tilburg University; Professor of Tax Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Post-BEPS Tax Advisory and Tax Structuring from a Tax Practitioner’s View

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords BEPS, value creation, tax structuring, international taxation
Authors Paul Lankhorst and Harmen van Dam
AbstractAuthor's information

    The international tax landscape is changing and it is changing fast. The political perception is that taxation of multinational enterprises is not aligned with the ‘economic activity’ that produces their profits (i.e. not aligned with ‘value creation’). The perception links ‘value creation’ with ‘employees and sales’.
    In the BEPS Project of the OECD, the OECD attempts to combat base erosion and profit shifting and to align taxation with value creation. In this article, the authors discuss the impact they expect BEPS to have on tax advisory and tax planning. The focus goes to BEPS Actions 7, 8-10 and 13.
    By maintaining the separate entity approach under BEPS for the taxation of multinationals, has the OECD been forced to ‘stretch’ existing rules beyond their limits? Will the created uncertainty lead to a shift from ‘aggressive tax planning’ by multinationals to ‘aggressive tax collection’ by tax administrations? Will the role of tax advisory change from advising on the lowest possible effective tax rate to a broader advice including risk appetite and public expectations?


Paul Lankhorst
Paul Lankhorst, MSc LLM, is tax adviser at Loyens & Loeff.

Harmen van Dam
Harmen van Dam, LLM, is tax partner at Loyens & Loeff.
Article

Access_open Corporate Taxation and BEPS: A Fair Slice for Developing Countries?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords Fairness, international tax, legitimacy, BEPS, developing countries
Authors Irene Burgers and Irma Mosquera
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to examine the differences in perception of ‘fairness’ between developing and developed countries, which influence developing countries’ willingness to embrace the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) proposals and to recommend as to how to overcome these differences. The article provides an introduction to the background of the OECD’s BEPS initiatives (Action Plan, Low Income Countries Report, Multilateral Framework, Inclusive Framework) and the concerns of developing countries about their ability to implement BEPS (Section 1); a non-exhaustive overview of the shortcomings of the BEPS Project and its Action Plan in respect of developing countries (Section 2); arguments on why developing countries might perceive fairness in relation to corporate income taxes differently from developed countries (Section 3); and recommendations for international organisations, governments and academic researchers on where fairness in respect of developing countries should be more properly addressed (Section 4).


Irene Burgers
Irene Burgers is Professor of International and European Tax Law, Faculty of Law, and Professor of Economics of Taxation, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Groningen.

Irma Mosquera
Irma Mosquera, Ph.D. is Senior Research Associate at the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation IBFD and Tax Adviser Hamelink & Van den Tooren.

Maarten Floris de Wilde
PhD, LLM, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Loyens & Loeff.

Prof. Arnaud de Graaf
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Prof. dr. Klaus Heine
Erasmus School of Law, Tax Law Department, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Tax Competition within the European Union – Is the CCCTB Directive a Solution?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2014
Keywords tax competition, tax planning, European Union, Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, factor manipulation
Authors Maarten de Wilde LL.M
AbstractAuthor's information

    The author addresses the phenomenon of taxable profit-shifting operations undertaken by multinationals in response to countries competing for corporate tax bases within the European Union. The central question is whether this might be a relic of the past when the European Commission’s proposal for a Council Directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base sees the light of day. Or would the EU-wide corporate tax system provide incentives for multinationals to pursue artificial tax base-shifting practices within the EU, potentially invigorating the risk of undue governmental tax competition responses? The author’s tentative answer on the potential for artificial base shifting and undue tax competition is in the affirmative. Today, the issue of harmful tax competition within the EU seems to have been pushed back as a result of the soft law approaches that were initiated in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But things might change if the CCCTB proposal as currently drafted enters into force. There may be a risk that substantial parts of the EU tax base would instantly become mobile as of that day. As the EU Member States at that time seem to have only a single tool available to respond to this – the tax rate – that may perhaps initiate an undesirable race for the EU tax base, at least theoretically.


Maarten de Wilde LL.M
LL.M, Researcher/lecturer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (<dewilde@law.eur.nl>), lecturer, University of Amsterdam, tax lawyer, Loyens & Loeff NV, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This article was written as part of the Erasmus School of Law research programme on ‘Fiscal Autonomy and Its Boundaries’. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article.
Article

Access_open The Effect of 'Excessive’ Tax Planning and Tax Setting on Welfare: Action Needed?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2014
Keywords tax planning, optimal taxation, tax competition, corporate taxation
Authors Hendrik Vrijburg Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents a literature review on the welfare effects of excessive company taxation practices. The article intends to structure the debate by sketching a conceptual framework of thought for the topic under consideration and places the existing literature within this framework. The article ends with a thought-provoking discussion between two extreme papers in the literature, one against tax planning and one in favour. The discussion is concluded by identifying the fundamental differences in assumptions underlying both approaches.


Hendrik Vrijburg Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Tinbergen Institute, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31-10-408-1485, Fax: +31-10-408-9031, email: vrijburg@ese.eur.nl.
Article

Access_open An Eclectic Approach to Loyalty-Promoting Instruments in Corporate Law: Revisiting Hirschman's Model of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Eclecticism, corporate law & economics, corporate constitutionalism, loyalty-promoting instruments
Authors Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
AbstractAuthor's information

    This essay analyses the shareholder role in corporate governance in terms of Albert Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. The term 'exit' is embedded in a law & economics framework, while 'voice' relates to a corporate constitutional framework. The essay takes an eclectic approach and argues that, in order to understand the shareholder role in its full breadth and depth, the corporate law & economics framework can 'share the analytical stage' with a corporate constitutional framework. It is argued that Hirschman's concept of 'loyalty' is the connecting link between the corporate law & economics and corporate constitutional framework. Corporate law is perceived as a Janus head, as it is influenced by corporate law & economics as well as by corporate constitutional considerations. In the discussion on the shareholder role in public corporations, it is debated whether corporate law should facilitate loyalty-promoting instruments, such as loyalty dividend and loyalty warrants. In this essay, these instruments are analysed based on the eclectic approach. It is argued that loyalty dividend and warrants are law & economics instruments (i.e. financial incentives) based on corporate constitutional motives (i.e. promoting loyalty in order to change the exit/voice mix in favour of voice).


Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
PhD candidate in the corporate law department at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Email: bootsma@law.eur.nl. The research for this article has been supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the Open Competition in the Social Sciences 2010. The author is grateful to Ellen Hey, Klaus Heine, Michael Faure, Matthijs de Jongh and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.
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