Global tax policy outlook for 2015

This guide summarizes countries’ tax policy outlook for 2015. Use the map or the menu to see the guide’s information for a country.

This guide summarizes countries’ tax policy outlook for 2015. Use the menu below to see the guide’s information for a country.

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While the underlying trend of countries moving toward a broad-based, low-rate corporate tax environment continues to play out (and even accelerate slightly), a large proportion of countries report that their overall corporate income tax burden will increase in 2015 (31% of countries surveyed for 2015, compared to 26% in 2014).

This certainly aligns to recent OECD data1 that shows that total tax revenues are increasing in 2013 among a majority (21 of 30) of OECD members who participated in their survey, with the overall OECD average of tax revenues to GDP climbing by 0.4 percentage points in 2013, to 34.1%, compared with 33.7% in 2012 and 33.3% in 2011. This is still below the 36% share in 2007.

The outlook for global tax policy in 2015
EY infographic: The outlook for global tax policy in 2015

But while the broad-base, low-rate mantra is arguably the most extensive trend identified in our data, our respondents report that more than six in ten countries are making some form of BEPS-related tax reform, before the BEPS recommendations are in full and final form.

Tackling hybrid mismatches is the one area of BEPS-related reform that the largest proportion of reporting countries (11 of 32) are addressing.

Chile is our 2015 nomination for the country with the highest volume of overall change, taking that mantle from joint nominees Australia and France in 2014. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these changes will create an increased burden for corporate taxpayers and the country is forecast to see change in 12 of the 18 data points measured in our survey, including being the only country of 32 surveyed to be known or forecast to see a headline CIT rate increase in 2015.

Moving back to a global lens, personal income taxes (PIT) also seem to be following the broaden-the-base mantra in 2015, though top marginal rates remain stable. Nine of the 32 countries report an increased PIT burden in 2015, surpassing the 7 who report a decrease in the overall PIT burden. Thirteen countries report a stable PIT burden in 2015, while two (Chile and Germany) report that the outlook will be mixed.

Only 3 of the 32 countries (Australia, Japan and South Africa) report that top marginal rates of PIT may or will increase in 2015. Three countries (Ireland, Malaysia and Spain) report that top marginal PIT rates will fall, while the remaining 26 forecast a stable top marginal rate of PIT.

In the area of indirect taxes, it seems that few countries are yet heeding the OECD’s advice to broaden their VAT base. Only 4 of the 32 countries surveyed forecast that the VAT base will expand in 2015, while two (China and Poland) forecast that their VAT base will actually contract.

The remaining 26 forecast a stable VAT base for 2015. Looking back, the number of countries increasing their headline VAT rates each year dropped dramatically from 2011 onward, reflecting the end of the financial crisis, where reduced VAT rates were a stimulatory tool of choice.

In 2015, our respondents forecast that just 3 of the 32 countries surveyed (Luxembourg, Malaysia and South Africa) will see an increase in their headline rate of VAT, while 29 forecast a stable rate. None of the 32 sampled countries forecast a headline VAT rate reduction.