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Germany: 'No time to wait' on tax reform

February 22, 2020

Olaf Scholz, along with other EU finance ministers, has called on G20 members to act "quickly" to stop tax avoidance and to launch a levy on digital giants. Ministers warned of a "fragmentation of the global tax system."

A picture of the Apple logo alongside some euro coins
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz says action on global tax reforms must come this year, and that there is no time to wait for elections in "one country or another."

"We must act decisively, quickly and together," Scholz said in a joint statement with Spain's Minister of Economics Nadia Calvino, Italy's Minister of Finance Roberto Gualtieri and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

The politicians are attending the G20 meeting of finance ministers in Riyadh, which runs until Sunday.

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"An agreement must be reached by the end of the year," they said.

Corporate taxation reforms are also on the table at this weekend's meeting. "If this is not acted upon now, this will lead to fragmentation of the global tax system," wrote the ministers in their statement. 

Billions of euros that can be directed to the construction of schools, hospitals and modern infrastructure, while the legitimacy of the state and democratic values are at stake if the reforms aren't implemented quickly, they added.

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Two weaknesses in the tax system are set to be tackled: The profits of digital companies not being taxed appropriately and the phenomenon of multinationals relocating their headquarters to countries with lower tax rates.

"These (digitally-based companies) generate enormous profits in regions where they have no official base, and therefore do not pay taxes. At the same time, some of the world's largest corporations continue to direct their profits to countries with lower tax rates," the ministers said.

During the two day talks, ministers are also set to discuss the idea of a global minimum tax rate.

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lc/mm (dpa, Reuters)