UK Withdraws Digital Services Tax - Introduction
The UK's Digital Services Tax (DST), which imposes a 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces, is set to be withdrawn as part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) two-pillar plan to reform international corporate taxation.
The plan, announced on 1 July 2021, will see the UK commit to a 15% minimum level of global tax on large businesses under Pillar Two, in exchange for being able to tax a portion of the profits of the world's largest businesses that are attributable to consumption in the UK under Pillar One.
The DST was introduced in 2020 as a temporary measure to address the challenges posed by the digital economy to international corporate taxation. The tax has been effective in raising £358m from large digital businesses in the 2020/21 tax year, 30% more than originally forecast.
However, the DST has faced significant international opposition, with the US arguing that digital services taxes unfairly target American firms and are discriminatory.
The compromise agreed with the US covers the interim period between January 2022 and either 31 December 2023 or the date Pillar One is implemented, whichever is earlier.
Under this compromise, the UK is able to keep its existing DSTs in place until the implementation of Pillar One, but US corporations subject to DSTs may receive tax credits against future tax liabilities.
As a compromise, the US has agreed to terminate proposed trade action and refrain from imposing any future trade actions against the UK.
The OECD’s two pillar plan
The OECD's two-pillar plan aims to reform international corporate taxation and make it fit for the digital age.
Pillar One will enable countries to tax a portion of the profits of the world's largest businesses that are attributable to consumption in their jurisdictions, including the profits of the world's largest digital businesses.
Pillar Two will introduce a global minimum tax rate of 15% on large businesses to prevent them from shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions.
The end is nigh
The UK has committed to ending its DST by the deadline of 31 December 2023 in order to adopt the OECD's Pillar One model rules from 2024.
The UK government anticipates that it will introduce a domestic minimum tax in the UK to complement Pillar Two, likely to come into effect from 1 April 2024 at the earliest.
UK Withdraws Digital Services Tax - Conclusion
The withdrawal of the DST will have implications for digital companies operating in the UK. Businesses that have not yet been found liable for DST but consider that they may be in scope should revisit their DST exposure analysis.
The UK government's commitment to introducing a domestic minimum tax may also have an impact on the tax liabilities of digital companies operating in the UK.
If you have any queries relating to UK Withdraws Digital Services Tax or tax matters in the UK more generally, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a UK specalist Native!
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