Digital Taxes and Trade in Services

This event is part of the workshop series “Globalization and Digitalization – Interconnections between taxation, trade and investment” co-organized with the GLOBTAXGOV Project (Leiden University), City University of Hong Kong and Asia Pacific FDI Forum. More details on the workshop series here.

International income tax rules rest on the principles that taxes are paid in the jurisdiction where the company has physical presence, taxes are based on profits, and there are profit allocation rules. These tax rules need to be updated as economic activities go digital – accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis. In the digital economy, assets are increasingly intangible and marginal costs may be close to zero resulting in scale without mass as well as a high degree of market concentration globally. The OECD hosts negotiations under the Inclusive Framework of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) to find solutions by the end of 2020. The discussions are yet to conclude and in the meantime several countries have introduced digital services taxes on their own.

  • What should be the objective of a digital services tax?
  • Which economic activities and what kind of firms could be subject to a digital services tax?
  • What would be the benefits of a global agreement – and what would be the cost of unilateral action?


David Bradbury – Head of Tax Policy and Statistics Division, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD (slides here).


Wei Cui – Law Professor,  University of British Columbia
Weiwei Zhang – International Trade Advisor, Sidley Austin LLP (slides here).
Mattias Bauer – Researcher, European Centre for International Political Economy