The case for unitary taxation with formulary apportionment in the finance sector and the effect on developing nations

Sadiq, Kerrie (2015) The case for unitary taxation with formulary apportionment in the finance sector and the effect on developing nations. Australian Tax Review, 44(2), pp. 75-98.

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Abstract

In 2013 the OECD released its 15 point Action plan to deal with base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). In that plan it was recognised that BEPS has a significant effect on developing countries. This is because the lack of tax revenue can lead to a critical underfunding of public investment that would help promote economic growth. To this end, the BEPS project is aimed at ensuring an inclusive approach to take into account not only views of the G20 and OECD countries but also the perspective of developing nations. With this focus in mind and in the context of developing nations, the purpose of this article is to consider a possible solution to profit shifting which occurs under the current transfer pricing regime, with that solution being unitary taxation with formulary apportionment. It does so using the finance sector as a specific case for application. Multinational financial institutions (MNFIs) play a significant role in financing activities of their clients in developing nations. Consistent with the ‘follow-the-client’ phenomenon which explains financial institution expansion, these entities are increasingly profiting from activities associated with this growing market. Further, not only are MNFIs persistent users of tax havens but also, more than other industries, have opportunities to reduce tax through transfer pricing measures. This article establishes a case for an industry specific adoption of unitary taxation with formulary apportionment as a viable alternative to the current regime. It argues that such a model would benefit not only developed nations but also developing nations which are currently suffering the effects of BEPS. In doing so, it considers the practicalities of such an implementation by examining both definitional issues and a possible formula for MNFIs. This article argues that, while there would be implementation difficulties to overcome, the current domestic models of formulary apportionment provide important guidance as to how the unitary business and business activities of MNFIs should be defined as well as factors that should be included in an allocation formula, along with the appropriate weighting. While it would be difficult for developing nations to adopt such a regime, it is argued that it would be no more difficult than addressing issues they face with the current transfer pricing regime. As such, this article concludes that unitary taxation with formulary apportionment is a viable industry specific alternative for MNFIs which would assist developing nations and aid independent fiscal soundness.

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ID Code: 86985
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: International Tax, Transfer Pricing, Formulary Apportionment
ISSN: 0311-094X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100) > Taxation Accounting (150107)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters
Deposited On: 28 Aug 2015 04:44
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 09:36

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