Speed Reads

Erasing the race to the bottom

Biden is set to take a big step toward a global minimum corporate tax

Corporate taxes as a share of economic output have been shrinking for decades, as companies sought out competitive tax advantages in an increasingly globalized world. President Biden has reinvigorated the idea of a global minimum tax on corporate profits, and the finance ministers of America's six biggest allies are expected to sign on at a Group of Seven meeting in London on Friday, The Washington Post reports. Biden's latest proposal is a 15 percent minimum tax, lower than his initial 21 percent offer.

Britain, which is hosting both this Friday's finance minister meeting and a G-7 leaders' summit later in June, insists the global minimum corporate tax be paired with a consensus system on taxing profits from Google, Facebook, and other tech companies whose digital products allow accountants to easily shift income through tax havens like Ireland and the Cayman Islands. 

Corporations and their lobbying arms oppose the minimum tax plan, which would raise an estimated $100 billion to $600 billion a year for governments worldwide. The pandemic has made cash-strapped countries more amenable to putting a floor under tax rates, the Post reports. Still, "Biden confronts a complex chore, which blends rewriting the tax code's eye-glazing arcana with the diplomatic puzzle of satisfying the interests of both advanced and developing nations."

The Biden administration hopes to secure an agreement in principle with the other G-7 nations — Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan — this summer and seal a final agreement with the Group of 20 nations at a leaders' summit in Rome in late October, the Post reports. Securing a global minimum corporate tax would help Biden raise U.S. corporate taxes to 28 percent, from 21 percent — and corporations pay an effective U.S. tax rate of less than 8 percent, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The benefits of a global minimum tax "are tremendous. Once we have it, the race to the bottom that is depriving emerging markets and developing countries from revenue is going to stop," said Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. "I get a strong sense of confidence that this is going to be done and we would all breathe a sigh of relief when it is done." Read more about the global minimum tax idea at The Washington Post.