The International Monetary Fund has long favoured adoption of a global minimum tax on corporate profits, the Fund’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, told reporters on Tuesday, calling tax avoidance a troubling issue for the global economy. Gopinath said current disparities in national corporate tax rates had triggered “a large amount” of tax shifting and tax avoidance, reducing the tax base on which governments could collect revenues to fund needed economic and social spending.
“It is a big concern,” Gopinath told reporters during an online briefing. “We are very much in favour of a global minimum corporate tax.” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday a global deal on cross-border taxation was within reach as he welcomed a pledge by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to work on a global corporate minimum rate.
Gopinath said the IMF had not taken a position on the ideal level for such a tax rate, adding that governments would need to replenish their coffers after massive spending to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic impact. “The hope is that they will move forward better to have more inclusive, sustainable, green economies, and that would require measures both on the revenue side and on the expenditure side,” she said, adding that each country would have to carefully tailor its own actions on the tax front.
Gopinath said the IMF was still studying the Biden administration’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 per cent, but noted that the former Trump administration’s decision to lower that tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent in 2017 had had less impact on investment than initially expected.
US President Joe Biden on Monday said there was “no evidence” that raising the corporate tax rate by seven percentage points would drive business abroad.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that the 28 per cent rate would be lower than it was at any time since World War Two. The organisation said Tuesday it expects the world economy to grow by 6 per cent in 2021, up from its 5.5 per cent forecast in January. Looking further ahead, global GDP for 2022 is seen increasing by 4.4 per cent, higher than an earlier estimate of 4.2 per cent.
“Even with high uncertainty about the path of the pandemic, a way out of this health and economic crisis is increasingly visible,” Gopinath said in the latest World Economic Outlook report, CNBC reported. The IMF said advanced economies will expand 5.1 per cent this year, compared with the 4.3 per cent previously seen and emerging market and developing economies will grow 6.7 per cent, up from 6.3 per cent.
“Within-country income inequality will likely increase because young workers and those with relatively lower skills remain more heavily affected in not only advanced but also emerging markets and developing economies,” Gopinath warned, adding that lower levels of female employment was also exacerbating disparities. As a result, the IMF said governments should continue to focus on “escaping the crisis” by providing fiscal support, including to their health-care systems
With inputs from CNBC and Bloomberg