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Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium

Ed. by Avi-Yonah, Reuven S. / Biondi, Yuri / Sunder, Shyam

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Breaking Regime Stability? The Politicization of Expertise in the OECD/G20 Process on BEPS and the Potential Transformation of International Taxation

Tim Büttner / Matthias Thiemann
Published Online: 2017-04-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ael-2016-0069


As a response to widely reported corporate tax avoidance, the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting process has relied on modifying the Transfer Pricing Guidelines in order to align taxation with economic substance, a form of incremental rather than radical change. We interpret this strategy of the OECD as an attempt to prevent a loss of authority without a politically risky complete overhaul. However, given the imperfect reconciliation – or even incompatibility – with persisting principles of international tax law, the incremental changes add to the complexity and incoherence of the guidelines on transfer pricing, leading us to expect an increase in conflicting assessments and uncertainty in the near future. Identifying a diminishing capacity of expert networks to achieve consensus on matters with strong distributional consequences, we argue that the incoherence of the system contains the seeds of its own transformation. However, due to vested interests in the current system and the reinforced capacity of the OECD to intervene in public discourses, we expect this transformation to be procedural and marked by conflicts over the meaning of the current guidelines, notably with regards to the arm’s length principle and the measurement of value creation.

Keywords: OECD; transnational governance; taxation


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Published Online: 2017-04-07

Citation Information: Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, Volume 7, Issue 1, 20160069, ISSN (Online) 2152-2820, ISSN (Print) 2194-6051, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ael-2016-0069.

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