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Amidst legislative restructurings revolving around Brexit, the U.K. is planning to introduce an innovative tax on large technology firms that hasn’t been done anywhere in the world. Some are considering this tax to be a raid on America tech giants. The tax applies to companies operating certain business models such as search engines, social media platforms, or online marketplaces. Specifically, U.S. tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon appear to be targeted.

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This is the fourth post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business.

Most people have heard about blockchain, either in the news, in a conversation or on social media. Many recognize the term but could not explain what it is. Blockchain was originally created for Bitcoin, a digital currency, but now is the backbone of a new internet. The technology allows digital information to be distributed and not copied which has led to blockchain to be called “digital gold” as well as factors such as its durability and robustness. It cannot be controlled by a single entity and has no single point of failure. This leads to an utter transparency of data and it being incorruptible. All these positive sides of blockchain have led it to become a large benefit to businesses in the future.

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With the new tax reform coming into place, many American firms are expected to repatriate money from abroad, especially from the EU, with a reduced price tag. Interestingly, there is about $2.5 trillion of unremitted foreign profits accumulated over the past three decades that are expected to come back to the US. The US government expects to collect around $339 billion in the next decade in repatriation tax.

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The UAE and Saudi governments have finally implemented the Value Added Tax (VAT) system on the 1st of 2018, after more than year of planning. Many business and individuals are still struggling to grasp how to handle this new tax system. The VAT was set at 5% in both countries and is expected to stay at that rate. This rate applies to almost every good or service one purchases daily, with the exception of certain specified items stated by each government.

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In part two of this week's trade blocs series, we are taking a look at the Gulf Corporation Council.

Morocco is turning to the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) as its trade relationship with the European Union takes an unexpected turn. The relations between the European Union (EU) and Morocco began to deteriorate when the European Court ruled that a farm trade accord did not apply to Morocco’s Western Sahara territory. Soon after, Morocco began to make ties with the GCC in order to diversify its markets away from the EU, its main trading partner.

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The European Union (EU) is working strenuously to stop giant American companies from avoiding taxes in its region. EU regulators have been studying tax arrangements between its member countries and US companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and McDonald’s. Just last week, the European Commission (EC) ruled that Apple owes Ireland €13 billion ($14.6 billion) in back taxes.

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A big topic in finance, and more specifically tax, is base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The BEPS project is a way to readjust the taxation of profits with the location of economic activities. The goal is to eliminate incidences of tax avoidance around the world once BEPS is implemented. The OECD, G20, and the United States are currently working together to recommend and propose policies to take place under BEPS.

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The Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries have come together to reach an agreement regarding implementing the VAT (Value Added Tax) system by the end of 2018. This agreement may come as a surprise to many people, since the GCC region was known for its tax-free perks and massive income from oil. However, the circumstances now prove to be otherwise. The plunge of oil prices since last year has immensely reduced government revenues, making it a necessity for the GCC countries to find new sources of revenue and diversify their portfolio.

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As early as last year, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the country could expect a rate hike in consumer tax rates. Last year, it was slated to take effect beginning 2017, but the agenda has since then been moved up quite a bit. Economists are predicting the economic plan may take place as early as late 2016 or very early 2017, as opposed to the previously believed mid to late 2017 timeline. Japan is required first and foremost to think about its own economy and whether or not its consumers could handle another rate hike, but other global factors have become more pressing since Abe’s initial announcement in 2015.

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On Monday, October 5, the OECD published a new package of international corporate tax standards that is expected to be approved by the G-20 nations. One of the main goals of the new standards is to limit “profit shifting”, which occurs when companies develop legal structures to report profits in the lowest tax jurisdictions available. If the new standards are enacted by the G-20, it is estimated that governments around the world will recover between $100 and $240 billion in lost revenue per year.

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After nearly two decades of deflation, Japan unexpectedly has fallen into a recession in the third quarter of this year. In a preliminary economic report released by the Cabinet Office on November 17, GDP was reported as falling at an annualized pace of 1.6% in the third quarter of 2014. In combination with the previous quarter’s 7.3% decline, this GDP decline has caused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dissolve the parliament and call for snap elections two years before the next scheduled elections.

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With multi-nationals operating across the world, it is relatively easy for these companies to shift activities to countries where the tax rates are significantly lower or nonexistent. In recent years, this has caused significant political and public reactions. Citizens and politicians are looking to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax. Leaders of the world's largest economies are scheduled to meet to determine whether the ratification of new global tax rules can solve widespread tax evasion problems. However, improving the tax system may prove to be a rather difficult task with large implications for the global business community.

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Ireland has in the works plans to change some of its tax laws. These changes could have radical effects on global companies, who as of right now, are taking advantage of Ireland's “Double Irish” tax loophole. Global companies have been looking for ways to decrease their tax liabilities and have done so by registering their companies in Ireland and moving profits to offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The exact amount of money being sent through this process is not known but is estimated to be around tens of billions of dollars.

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No one enjoys paying taxes. For many, the most grueling exercise when budgeting is seeing the amount deducted from one's paycheck by the government. For this reason, tax avoidance has been a business that is almost as old as taxes themselves. From personal to professional, tax avoidance has become a common practice across many cultures and seems to be here to stay.

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For many corporations in the US, having to pay the high corporate tax rate is a problem worth avoiding. In order for these companies to avoid having to pay these taxes, they are reporting profits under the holdings of offshore subsidiaries. There is a lot of speculation that if companies could bring the money back over to the US, it would stimulate the economy and help the United States. In order for this to become reality though, the current tax rate would have to be much lower. There is in fact some myth to this. In order for the money to be considered "offshore" on the financial statements, the money simply has to be under a foreign subsidiary, even if it is invested in a bank in the US like a lot of companies' profit currently is. This allows them to avoid having to pay the US corporate tax rate on their offshore profits, while still having the money accessible in the US.

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Globalization has been the result of many different developments. From the increasing ability to ship goods across the world at low rates to moving manufacturing to achieve lower labor expenses, globalization is an entrenched part of the new economy. Another element factoring into globalization, that is not mentioned quite as much but has played an increasingly large role, is that of taxes.

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This past week in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice struck down legal opposition by the British government in order to move forward in creating a new tax law in the European Union. Commonly known as the "Tobin Tax," named after American economist James Tobin who first proposed the idea in the 1980s, the law would tax the financial sector of the EU in order to cover some of the costs placed on taxpayers in the outcome of the recent financial and debt crises. The European Commission first announced the proposition of the new law in 2011, during which it stated that the financial tax law would require institutions in participating member states to pay a tax of at least a tenth of 1 percent of the value of transactions with other institutions. Since then, debate among EU member states regarding the effectiveness and possible consequences of implementing the tax has ensued.

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Japanese consumers rushed to local retailers on March 31 to purchase large numbers of goods. Even online retailers, such as “Aksul”, had their systems overloaded by the high volumes of transactions of basic goods such as toilet paper and instant rice. Why were the Japanese people in such a hurry to purchase these products? This is due to the sales tax hike from 5 to 8 percent, which was implemented the day after, April 1.

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Amid speculation of tax reform in the near future as Tim Geithner has stated, many critics have wondered what the United States will do to curb the appetite for our cash hungry government. Many have brought up that the U.S. has the one of the highest tax brackets amongst the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development). This statement is true; the United States is almost at the top of that list with 35 percent as its top corporate tax bracket, trailing only Japan that tops out at 39.5 percent. This statistic is actually misleading though. While the U.S. has one of the highest statutory tax rates, its marginal tax rate is 27.1 percent. This is due to all the loopholes and tax break incentives the current tax code offers. Many other countries do not offer such tax breaks to companies. To put this figure into perspective, here is a list of other OECD countries and their marginal tax rate in 2008:

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An attempt by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad to change the Iranian economy through the implementation of a new sales tax was met with heavy opposition by Iran’s merchant class, the primary bearers of the new tax.

According to the Washington Post, angry shopkeepers refused for the second straight day to open their stores in the central bazaar city of Esfahan. Shopkeepers in other Iranian cities such as Tehran, Mashad and Tabriz also refused to sell goods.