What is BEPS? BEPS stands for the “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” project. It is scheduled to be completed in December 2015. It is an information sharing regime among participating European tax authorities.
Why is this a threat to U.S. taxpayers? The information being shared is, by and large, targeted at U.S. companies doing business in Europe. Several changes to the rules governing where and how business income is to be taxed are expected to lead other taxing authorities to claim a right to tax a larger slice of U.S. business income earned overseas.
What does this mean for U.S. tax reform? If the Europeans, through their pernicious BEPS regime, tax away a large chunk of overseas profits of U.S. companies, that’s money that can’t be brought back to the United States to invest in America. In 2005, a voluntary repatriation tax holiday resulted in $320 billion being returned to this country. By definition, money taxed away by the Europeans is money not available for U.S. tax reform.
What can the United States do? Americans have every reason to expect the U.S. Treasury Department, and other arms of the executive branch, to rigorously defend our companies against vulturine activities by European tax authorities. It’s Congress’ responsibility to hold the executive branch’s feet to the fire. That means robust oversight, hard questions, and preconditions on agency funding.