Many of the jurisdictional tax changes highlighted in the chapters in this volume reflect global tax trends that are likely to continue in 2020 and beyond. Some of these trends merit special mention in this preface.
One such area of material change is the taxation of the digital economy and this edition has a chapter dedicated to this topic. Although OECD attempts to find a consensus-based solution continue, notably with the publication on 9 October 2019 of proposals for a 'unified approach', many countries, frustrated by the time it will take to introduce concrete measures, have decided to take unilateral action, pending an international solution. In Europe, laws have been introduced or are pending in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom and outside of Europe other countries are also introducing or proposing new laws, including Malaysia, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia. These domestic laws are likely to be a source of political tension with the United States, which sees such taxes as a threat to major US multinationals such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. This tension manifested itself in December 2019 when the United States threatened France with tariffs on key French exports to the United States on items such as champagne and sparkling wine, cheese, make-up, handbags and homeware such as porcelain and bone china, in retaliation for the introduction of the French digital services tax.
Another area where tax reform already introduced in some countries is likely to expand into other jurisdictions in 2020 is in the area of interest limitation rules. The OECD proposed limiting a tax deduction for net interest expense to 30 per cent of taxable EBITDA. This rule has been adopted in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States and other EU countries are required to implement similar rules by 2022. It is important that groups review their cross-border financing in the light of these changes particularly as, unlike the case with transfer pricing, there is unlikely to be a right to exempt a receipt from tax in the recipient country when a deduction is denied in the paying country.
The effect of the wide-ranging US tax reform continues to impact the approach of US multinational groups to their overseas subsidiaries and one can expect further impact in 2020 as US groups re-evaluate their non-US financing and treasury operations.
It is hoped that this volume will prove to be a useful guide to the tax rules in the jurisdictions where clients conduct their businesses. Each chapter aims to provide topical and current insights from leading experts on the tax issues and opportunities in their respective jurisdictions. While specific tax advice is always essential, it is also necessary to have a broad understanding of the nature of the potential issues and advantages that lie ahead; this book provides a guide to these.
I should like to thank the contributors to this book for their time and efforts, and above all for their expertise. I would also like to thank the publisher and the team for their support and patience. I hope that you find the work useful, and any comments or suggestions for improvement that can be incorporated into any future editions will be gratefully received.
The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and not of their firms, the editor or the publishers. Every endeavour has been made to ensure that what you read is the latest intelligence.