Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Allison Christians (McGill; Google Scholar) presents Taxing Big Data When the United States Disagrees (with Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães (Antwerp; Google Scholar)) at UC-San Francisco today as part of its Tax Speaker Series:
Why might countries seek to tax Big Data, and if there are good reasons to do so, what kind of rules would be most feasible to adopt without contravening the existing global legal architecture? A number of countries have begun imposing stand-alone digital services taxes pending multilateral agreement on a coordinated solution (aka pillar 1). But if pillar 1 fails to materialize, the United States and U.S. firms will likely seek redress against these unilateral taxes through trade and investment regimes. This Article argues that alternative legal approaches might be less exposed to the same pushback. In particular, unilaterally extending domestic withholding tax regimes to specified digital services fees might be the best option to tax Big Data when the United States disagrees.
We explain what it means to tax Big Data and why countries want to do so, review the events that led to the unresolvable status quo, and explain why withholding taxes ultimately have a better chance of surviving resistance from the United States and U.S. firms.