The US Treasury has negotiated a multilateral tax deal under the framework of the OECD that includes Pillar 1, a plan to reallocate global profits of multinationals to market jurisdictions, and Pillar 2, a proposal for a global minimum tax. Global adoption of Pillar 1 directly hinges on US legislative action, and wide take-up of Pillar 2 may also depend on US modification of existing laws to conform to the OECD agreement. But while widespread implementation of the OECD agreement depends on US legislative action, uncertainty remains as to whether a deal negotiated by the Biden administration will be accepted and acted upon by the US Congress. In the short term, at least, any such action is unlikely. This article takes an historical look at the circumstances that have led to significant reforms of US international tax laws in the past as a lens through which to view the likelihood of a Congress acting on the OECD agreement. Historically, major international tax changes have been motivated primarily by domestic economic and foreign policy. But the reforms being proposed today do not appear—to members of either party—to solve the most pressing concerns of members. The justifications advanced by the Biden administration officials for the reforms embedded in the OECD agreement bear but a tenuous relationship both to the local political concerns that motivate individual members of Congress to act, and to the larger considerations of international competitiveness and foreign policy that have encouraged Congressional action in the past.
5 British Tax Rev. 504 (2022)