Volume 46 (2018) / Issue 8/9

Thomas Hoppe, Deborah Schanz, Susann Sturm, Caren Sureth-Sloane, 'What are the Drivers of Tax Complexity for MNCs? Global Evidence' (2018) 46 Intertax, Issue 8/9, pp. 654–675


All over the world, firms and governments are increasingly concerned about the rise in tax complexity. To manage it and develop effective simplification measures, detailed information on the current drivers of complexity is required. However, research on this topic is scarce. This is surprising as the latest developments–for example, those triggered by the BEPS project–have given rise to the conjecture that complexity drivers may have changed, thus questioning the findings of prior studies. In this article, we shed light on this issue and provide a global picture of the current drivers of tax complexity that multinational corporations face based on a survey of 221 highly experienced tax consultants from 108 countries. Our results show that prior complexity drivers of the tax code are still important, with details and changes of tax regulations being the two most important complexity drivers. We also find evidence for new important complexity drivers emerging from different areas of the tax framework, such as inconsistent decisions among tax officers (tax audits) or retroactively applied tax law amendments (tax enactment). Based on the tax consultants’ responses, we develop a concept of tax complexity that is characterized by two pillars, tax code and tax framework complexity and illustrates the various aspects that should be considered when assessing the complexity of a country’s tax system.

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ISSN: 0165-2826
ID: TAXI2018069