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Small businesses voice support for international unitary taxation

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Research published by the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce suggests there is support amongst British business for a move to an international unitary taxation system. The survey reports that business owners and managers are three times more likely to favour a move to a model whereby companies are taxed proportionately on revenues generated in the country in which they operate, than to retain the existing system of international taxation.

Kim Conchie, chief executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Many business leaders feel the current system of international taxation provides major multinationals with a competitive advantage over companies whose operations are restricted to domestic markets.’

However, unitary taxation has been rejected by the OECD as a way forward in its work on tackling base erosion and profit shifting. Writing in Tax Journal, Paul Morton said: ‘Many businesses will welcome the clear signal that formulary apportionment is not to be pursued … because of “the practical difficulties associated with agreeing to and implementing the details of a new system consistently across all countries”’.

John Bartlett, group head of tax at BP, expressed similar concerns in May when giving evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee’s inquiry into taxing corporations in a global economy. ‘The possibility of formulary apportionment would put fear into most businesses’ hearts because of the uncertainty,’ he said.