What are the Drivers of Tax Complexity for Multinational Corporations? Evidence from 108 Countries

Hoppe, Thomas and Schanz, Deborah and Sturm, Susann and Sureth-Sloane, Caren (2017) What are the Drivers of Tax Complexity for Multinational Corporations? Evidence from 108 Countries. WU International Taxation Research Paper Series, 2017-12. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Universität Wien, Vienna.


Download (1MB)


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, triggered by the BEPS project - give rise to the conjecture that complexity drivers may have changed, thus questioning the findings of prior studies. In this paper, 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 practitioners from 108 countries. Our results show that prior complexity drivers of the tax code are still relevant, with details and changes of tax regulations being the two most influential complexity drivers. We also find evidence for new relevant 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 responses of the practitioners, we develop a concept of tax complexity that distinguishes 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.

Item Type: Paper
Additional Information: We thank two international tax consultancy firms for their kind support in distributing the questionnaire to the member firms of their networks. However, this paper does not represent the views or the official policy of any of the supporting firms. The results and interpretations of the results are the authors' and do not reflect the official policy or position of any of the involved firms. We are grateful to Vanessa Hilleringmann, Andreas Oestreicher, Benjamin Osswald, Dirk Schindler, and participants at the 3rd Doctoral Research Seminar at WU Vienna and Faculty Research Workshop 2016 at Paderborn University for valuable comments. All potential errors and mistakes are the authors'. Financial support by the foundation "Stiftung Prof. Dr. oec. Westerfelhaus (Bielefeld, Germany)" is gratefully acknowledged. Editors: Eva Eberhartinger, Michael Lang, Rupert Sausgruber and Martin Zagler (Vienna University of Economics and Business), and Erich Kirchler (University of Vienna)
Keywords: Complexity Drivers, International Comparison, Survey, Tax Complexity, Tax Practitioners
Classification Codes: JEL H20, H25, C83, O57
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 07:46
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 00:41
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5797


View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics