After its decision in August to force Ireland to collect over $14 billion in “unpaid” taxes from Apple, the EU continues its attack on international businesses throughout the continent. The European Commission has vowed to introduce the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), claiming it wants to create a “growth-friendly and fair corporate tax system.”
The problem with this proposal is that it will actually hurt growth in many countries that are part of the EU, which is an inherently unfair system. One of the countries that stands to lose the most from the CCCTB is Ireland, which is targeted primarily due to its low and competitive corporate tax rate of 12.5%.
Ireland’s pro-growth economy is funded in large part due to corporate tax revenue received from international businesses. Under the CCCTB, portions of that tax revenue would go to other countries, even if the business headquarters is stationed in Ireland. According to estimates from the Economic and Social Research Institute, this change in revenue could reduce Ireland’s projected economic growth from 3% to 1.5%. This would be a drastic hit to an economy that has been labeled as one of Europe’s most impressive pro-growth models.
Besides drastically hurting growth in countries like Ireland, the CCCTB is also an overreach of EU powers in regards to taxation. Even though each country will technically still be able to decide its own corporate tax rate, the amount of revenue that can be taxed under that rate will be limited. The EU is essentially seeking to manage taxation in an indirect way, which should be an issue of national sovereignty for each individual country. Furthermore, it seeks to impose its idea of what constitutes a “fair” amount of taxation, which again should be decided by individual countries.
Why should this matter? Lower corporate tax rates encourage competitiveness and investment in a country, bringing greater economic growth. Greater growth leads to more jobs, higher incomes, and overall more economic opportunity. Imposing regulations and higher tax rates will only stifle business competitiveness and reduce growth. The CCCTB is definitely not growth friendly.
Businesses outside of Apple are also being hurt by the EU’s decision to go after companies who seek competitive tax rates. Companies like Zara, a clothing retailer, are being targeted by the EU for “tax evasion” just like Apple. This is despite the fact that Zara works to ensure that its tax policies comply with international standards.
McDonald’s is also being targeted by the EU, but taking into account the issues with Apple, Zara, and others, is taking proactive measures to avoid strict and unfair EU regulations. The fast-food giant announced it will move its non-U.S. tax base to the UK, knowing that the country will soon leave the EU due to Brexit. Many other companies may see this example and begin moving their businesses to the UK as well under the threat of the EU’s CCCTB.
While the CCCTB may help the countries that have refused to engage in competitive and pro-growth business practices, those that have taken the step to do so will be hit hard. It is an unfair and anti-growth tax policy that will ultimately lead to lower levels of investment throughout EU member states.