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Egypt’s Tax System with OECD Pillar One and Two Reforms

In the evolving landscape of international taxation, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has introduced two significant frameworks: Pillar One and Pillar Two. These frameworks aim to address the challenges posed by the digitalization of the economy and base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) practices by multinational enterprises (MNEs). Their implementation poses both challenges and opportunities for jurisdictions like Egypt, particularly concerning the application of domestic income tax laws and existing double tax treaties.

Pillar Two: Ensuring a Minimum Level of Taxation for MNEs

Pillar Two aims to ensure that large MNEs pay a minimum level of tax on the income arising in each jurisdiction where they operate. This global minimum tax is intended to address remaining BEPS issues, such as profit shifting to low-tax jurisdictions and the use of aggressive tax planning strategies to minimize tax liabilities.

For Egypt, the implementation of Pillar Two may necessitate amendments to domestic tax laws to introduce a minimum effective tax rate for MNEs operating within its jurisdiction. This could involve the introduction of a top-up tax to ensure that MNEs pay a minimum level of tax on their profits, regardless of their tax planning strategies. As of 2024, Egyptian tax authorities are actively engaging with stakeholders to develop a robust framework that aligns with Pillar Two requirements, aiming to bolster the country’s fiscal position without deterring foreign investment. Additionally, Egypt is exploring the integration of these new tax rules into its broader economic reform agenda to enhance the overall business climate.

Pillar One: A Sustainable Taxation Framework for the Digital Economy

Pillar One is designed to deliver a sustainable taxation framework in today’s digitalized economy, ensuring fairness and more efficient allocation of taxing rights. It focuses on nexus and profit allocation, aiming to prevent the erosion of tax bases and the shifting of profits to low-tax jurisdictions by digital businesses. By reallocating taxing rights, Pillar One seeks to address the challenges of traditional tax rules that are no longer suitable for the digital economy.

In the case of Egypt, the implementation of Pillar One may require a reevaluation of its domestic income tax laws to accommodate new rules for nexus and profit allocation, especially concerning digital businesses. This may involve revisiting the definition of permanent establishment and revising transfer pricing regulations to ensure that profits are fairly allocated in line with economic activities conducted within Egypt. Recent discussions in Egypt have highlighted the need for enhanced digital taxation strategies to capture revenue from major tech companies operating within the country. Moreover, the Egyptian Ministry of Finance is considering a digital services tax to ensure that digital companies contribute fairly to the economy.

Challenges and Opportunities for Egypt’s Tax Landscape

The implementation of OECD Pillar One and Pillar Two in Egypt poses several challenges and opportunities for the country’s tax landscape. On one hand, it offers an opportunity to modernize and align Egypt’s tax laws with international best practices, enhancing transparency and fairness in the tax system. On the other hand, it may increase the administrative burden on tax authorities and businesses, particularly concerning compliance with new rules and reporting requirements.

The impact of these frameworks on Egypt’s double tax treaties must be carefully considered. While the objectives of avoiding double taxation and preventing tax evasion remain paramount, adjustments may be needed to ensure that existing treaties are compatible with the principles of Pillar One and Pillar Two. Recently, Egypt has initiated negotiations to update several of its tax treaties to align with the new OECD guidelines, reflecting a proactive approach to international tax cooperation. The Egyptian government has also established a task force to monitor and manage the transition, ensuring a smooth adaptation to the new international tax norms.

Challenges remain, particularly concerning the interpretation and application of new tax rules and the coordination of tax policies at the regional level. Differences in legal systems, administrative capacities, and economic structures may also affect the implementation of OECD Pillar One and Pillar Two in these jurisdictions. For instance, ongoing discussions within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) highlight the complexities of harmonizing tax policies across member states while respecting national sovereignty.

The Future of Egypt’s Tax System

By embracing the OECD’s Pillar One and Two frameworks, Egypt has the opportunity to revolutionize its tax system, ensuring it remains competitive and fair in the global economy. This transformation, though challenging, promises to enhance Egypt’s fiscal stability and its attractiveness as an investment destination. With strategic planning and stakeholder collaboration, Egypt can leverage these international tax reforms to drive economic growth and improve tax equity, setting a precedent for other emerging economies.

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Written By

Hamdy Yahia - Tax Partner

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