The Brave (and Uncertain) New World of International Taxation under the 2020s Compromise

When significant changes are made to the way the world allocates the right to tax cross-border income, there is an obvious need to assess whether the new regime is an appropriate response to the challenges posed by the perceived problems in the old regime. This article has two objectives: first, to show that the proposed changes to the international tax regime relating to the taxation of business profits are so significant that they are regarded as absolutely fundamental. Secondly, and far more controversially, to assert that the changes are brave and appropriate irrespective of the final assessment of these changes (which could be in a decade from now). This article asserts that the 2020s Compromise is a positive step forward for four reasons. First, and most importantly, it was necessary to overcome the deficiencies of the previous regime, particularly for large MNEs with a significant digital business footprint. Three other factors suggest that history might regard some of these changes as brave. These are: more effective source taxation with a partial move to taxation at destination, the rise of multilateral instruments and processes, and the increase in tax cooperation between countries or the reduction of tax competition. However, the absence of an articulated theoretical basis for taxation means both uncertainty and instability in the international tax framework for some time.