The OECD’s Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) project has taken a powerful and welcome look at many of the tax avoidance strategies that proliferate in a world where multinational enterprises are in the business of exploiting gaps in the tax laws of different countries to minimize their ultimate tax bills. The focus on international consensus and prescriptions for reform has not been an unqualified good for the nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, which find themselves in the position of reacting to standards and taking on compliance burdens set without sufficient consideration of their special circumstances. Because the path for the BEPS project was chosen before receiving meaningful input from these nations, the initiatives offer little support for revenue-raising strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa and require an administrative infrastructure currently beyond the capacity of many nations in the region. With an eye toward integrating achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2030) (SDGs) with the BEPS project, this article urges three reforms: implementation of treaty-based regional tax incentives mindful of the SDGs in the OECD’s Multilateral Instrument to Implement Tax Treaty Related Matters to Prevent BEPS; development of a fund by high-income countries to assist Sub-Saharan African nations in building tax administrative capacity; and reconsideration of some of the BEPS reform proposals, particularly the Digital Economy two-pillar proposals, with the aim of according agency to Sub-Saharan Africa as it constructs a blueprint for solid emergence from economic hardship heightened by the pandemic
GW Paper Series
Karen B. Brown, Tax Incentives and Sub-Saharan Africa, 48 Pepp. L. Rev. 995 (2021).