Taxing digital activities - I. How to define digital activities for tax purposes ?

Author: Paul Verhaeghe

  1. Next to the extensive report filed in October 2015 by the OECD that addresses avoidance of Permanent Establishment criteria in general under Article 5 of the OECD’s tax treaty model, a more specific action was undertaken towards taxing digital economy.

The OECD launched a two-week public inquiry on taxing digital economy [1] in October 2017. The reporting participants can be roughly divided into three groups of stakeholders :

  • Digital companies (Blablacars, Spotify) and companies who have developed significant digital activities (Sony),
  • Intermediaries (banks, certified/chartered accountants, tax-lawyers, tax-consultants),
  • Civil society (professors, tax justice groups and individuals).
  1. Digital companies invoked their positive impact on overall growth and innovation for questioning the need of taxing their activities by other means than the existing rules. They seem to fear excessive taxes and double taxations.
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