Tech giants could face hefty tax bill under new OECD proposal

Silicon Valley is about to lose a battle in its war against paying tax on big-tech revenues

"After promising the radical shift in global rules that is urgently necessary, the OECD seems to be lapsing back into tinkering at the margins - doing little to redistribute profits from tax havens, and even less for the lower-income countries that lose the most to corporate tax abuse".

The plan from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which advises 134 countries, comes after France and the United States agreed in August to find a way to better tax digital businesses by mid-2020.

The OECD today published for stakeholders' comments a proposal to advance global negotiations to ensure that multinational enterprises (MNEs), including digital companies, pay tax wherever they have significant consumer-facing activities and where they generate profits.

"The current system is under stress and will not survive if we don't remove the tensions", OECD head of tax policy Pascal Saint-Amans told journalists on a conference call.

Justin Trudeau's election platform commits to impose the tax on revenue generated by the sale of online advertising and users' personal data for companies with global revenues of at least $1 billion and Canadian revenues of at least $40 million.

Apple is locked in an European Union tax dispute over profits booked in Ireland which could cost the iPhone maker $14 billion.

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Shares in Apple, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, Facebook and Amazon opened higher on Wednesday as latest media reports raised hopes of progress in trade talks between the United States and China.

Governments would be able to tax a to-be-determined portion of firms' worldwide earnings, even if they do not have a physical presence in the country, according to a consultation document released Wednesday.

The NDP have said they would make sure that big tech companies "play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters", in part by ensuring they pay taxes.

Companies affected would be big multinational firms operating across borders with the OECD suggesting they should have revenue of over 750 million euros ($821 million).

Not only would big internet companies be covered, but also big consumer firms that sell retail products in a market through a distribution network, which they may or may not own.

OECD officials have said a broad agreement is needed by January if the digital tax is to be approved next year - in which case it would come into effect in 2021. The OECD is also proposing a "legally binding" dispute-settlement mechanism to arbitrate between companies and governments.

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