Tag Archives: digital economy

OECD – BEPS project – Final report on Action 1: Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy

The OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project started in 2013 amid growing concern of tax planning used by multinational enterprises (MNEs) to artificially reduce taxable income / shift profits to low tax countries by benefitting from discrepancies between country specific tax rules.

OECD members and G20 countries defined an Action Plan of 15 items to address the key taxation challenges of today’s global economy. After two years of intensive work and consultation with different stakeholders all actions are now completed.

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New Zealand – Taxing by the megabyte – proposed changes to the GST treatment of the digital economy

As widely anticipated, the Government of New Zealand has released a discussion document on the GST treatment of digital products and other services purchased online by New Zealand consumers. The analysis in the discussion document is based on the OECD guidelines for applying GST to cross-border services and intangibles (e.g. music, movie, and game downloads).

In relation to imported goods, the Government has indicated that various challenges exist to devising a solution for low value goods imports (covered by the current so-called $400 threshold or the minimum duties / taxes $60 concession). Although the goods solution is expected to take more time, work is progressing on a solution for collecting duty / GST on imported goods in the most efficient way.

According to PwC New Zealand the discussion document demonstrates that the Government and policy makers have a desire to keep the GST model current for the digital economy. This is in line with recent OECD guidelines and developments in Australia, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and South Africa. The document also addresses matters of sound tax policy, tax leakage (estimated at $180 million per annum and growing) and fairness. The measures will go a long way to ensuring that consumption in New Zealand is taxed in the same way as domestic purchases of goods and Services.

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Online shopping – PwC’s Total Retail Survey 2015

Fifteen years ago, in the heyday of the e-business boom, Internet promised to change industries and business models very quickly, first of all in the retail sector. When these promised changes did not realise that quick, it resulted in the burst of the dot-com bubble.

However, even if change took longer than expected, now it is already part of our lives and not only in the developed countries, but all around the world. New online business models have a disruptive effect on long established businesses, as the fate of firms, such as Blockbuster, Borders and quite recently, RadioShack shows.

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Bitcoin – the rise of virtual currencies and their VAT implications

In the last couple of years virtual currencies become more popular. Recently we can see that more and also well established businesses are accepting this as payment method every day, e.g. Dell, Overstock.com or Expedia – just to name a few completely different businesses. We already posted some updates on virtual currencies (here, here , here and here). In this update we focus on bitcoin, being one of the most widely known virtual currency and the VAT questions it has already triggered.
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EU: Taxing the Digital Economy

“Today’s tax systems were conceived in a pre-computer age. So it is no surprise that they often clash with the modern, digital economy. Taxation must not be an obstacle to all that is good about the digital revolution. Yet, we must also ensure that the digital sector plays fair and pays fair.” These are the words of Mr. Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Anti-fraud and Audit, published in the recent press release of the European Commission.

“The digital sector must contribute fairly to public finances. Currently corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning are particularly problematic in the digital economy. This is due to the global and intangible nature of these companies, and the fact that today’s tax rules were not designed with e-commerce in mind. As a result, the taxes paid by the digital economy are frequently not in line with the presence and profits of this sector in the EU.”

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