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Recent trends in corporate income tax

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  • K. Van Cauter

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • L. Van Meensel

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

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    Abstract

    The article describes the recent international developments regarding the corporate income tax and the way in which the Belgian government is trying to respond. For this purpose, it begins by discussing the various indicators which measure the tax burden on corporate profits. Next, it illustrates the trend towards declining statutory corporate tax rates throughout Europe in the last two decades. It is highly likely that the downward trend in nominal rates will persist in the near future. But these nominal rate cuts seem to have been accompanied by an at least equivalent expansion of the tax base, so that government revenues generated by the corporate income tax have actually increased overall. Belgium is following the international trend towards lower nominal rates and a wider tax base. The corporate income tax reform which took effect on 1 January 2003 aimed to eliminate the difference between the Belgian nominal rate and the EU-15 average. The most recent reform introduced the venture capital allowance from the 2007 tax year. This innovative measure reduces the discrimination between the tax treatment of equity capital and borrowings. The differential between the Belgian rate and the EU average has however since 2003 widened again to around 4 to 5 percentages points and will – in the absence of new measures – probably continue to increase in the near future. Finally, the article focuses on the European coordination of corporate income tax. The existence of twenty-seven different corporate income tax systems in the EU entails substantial cost for multinationals. At the same time, there is the fear that tax competition may erode the tax proceeds. Both the EC and a number of committees of experts have therefore published reports in the recent decades, proposing a high degree of corporate income tax harmonisation. So far, these initiatives have not succeeded. More specific initiatives, such as directives aiming to abolish tax distortions in the case of cross-border activities and measures to combat harmful competition have been more successful. The EC is now concentrating on achieving a common consolidated tax base for multinationals.

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    File URL: http://www.nbb.be/doc/oc/repec/ecrart/ecorevI2007_H4.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2007)
    Issue (Month): I (June)
    Pages: 61-75

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    Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2007:m:june:i:i:p:61-75

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    Keywords: corporate tax; tax competition; EU tax coordination;

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