Google and Facebook have welcomed a G7 deal on tackling corporate tax avoidance by big tech companies.
The agreement will see a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15% – lower than a floor of 21% mooted by President Biden – and changes to which countries will benefit.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak called the deal “a proud moment”.
Speaking after two days of talks in London, he added it “meant the right companies pay the right tax in the right places”.
The changes would ensure major corporations, especially those with a strong online presence, will pay taxes in the countries where they operate and not only where they have headquarters.
Rich nations have struggled for years to agree a way to raise more revenue from large multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, which often book profits in jurisdictions where they pay little or no tax.
After the announcement Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook said: “We want the international tax reform process to succeed and recognize this could mean Facebook paying more tax, and in different places.”
Facebook has long called for reform of the global tax rules and we welcome the important progress made at the G7. Today’s agreement is a significant first step towards certainty for businesses and strengthening public confidence in the global tax system.
— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) June 5, 2021
A Google spokesperson said the company strongly supports the initiative and hoped for a “balanced and durable” agreement.
Sky’s economics and data editor Ed Conway said: “This is about trying to prevent billions of dollars, if not trillions, of tax avoidance by the world’s biggest companies.
“At the moment taxes are mostly based on profit but you can shift those profits far more easily than you can your sales”.
Companies with a profit margin over 10% would have a portion of tax taken above that level, which is then reallocated on the basis of sales to different countries around the world.
“That is equally, if not more of a big deal, than the global minimum,” Conway added.
“Put those two things together and you have perhaps the most convincing attempt at trying to deal internationally with what’s going on with the tech giants and their tax payments.
“The work to try and get this done has been going on for some years, if not decades.
“On the other hand it’s easy to be sceptical and the rate – 15% – is a lot lower than it was originally expected to be. It was originally going to be 21%, so the target is less ambitious.”
A Treasury spokeswoman explained that the most profitable multinationals would have to pay tax in the countries where they operate and not just where their headquarters are.
“The fairer system will mean the UK will raise more tax revenue from large multinationals and help pay for public services here in the UK,” she said.
Mr Sunak said there had been “huge progress” on an issue that had been discussed for nearly a decade.
The agreement is now set to be looked over in more detail at the G20 financial ministers and Central Bank governors meeting in July.
The deal is likely to cause tensions with Ireland, as it has so far been unwilling to raise its corporation tax rate above 12.5%.
Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe tweeted: “I note the joint position by #G7 finance ministers on international corporate taxation. It is in everyone’s interest to achieve a sustainable, ambitious and equitable agreement on the international tax architecture.
“I look forward now to engaging in the discussions at @OECD. There are 139 countries at the table, and any agreement will have to meet the needs of small and large countries, developed and developing.”
Meanwhile, Labour called on the government to push for more than the 15% base rate, after US President Joe Biden had initially wanted a 21% minimum, which the party said would raise £131m for public services.
“This government must now show leadership, push for a 21% rate in negotiations, and use the money to fund our schools and our NHS,” said shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.
The Adam Smith Institute – a pro-free market think tank – said the chancellor had effectively tied his own hands while handing “power over our taxes to Washington’s demands”.
“These proposals are not in the UK’s interest and Rishi has sold Britain short,” said deputy director Matt Kilcoyne.
“Rishi Sunak’s flagship policies of super deductions and free ports are dead in the water. The chancellor’s own policies, scuppered by his own hubris.”
COVID-19: President Jair Bolsonaro in trouble as Brazil’s COVID crisis inquiry becomes box office viewing | World News
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro loves meeting people; he can’t get enough of it, he travels the country looking to shake hands and kiss babies.
He likes doing interviews, he’ll talk about subjects varied and important to him.
There is just one caveat – he hates independent journalists, isn’t too keen on foreign ones, and won’t talk to anyone who doesn’t love him or agree with him on everything – “Trump of the Tropics” pretty much says it all.
Over the past year, I’ve travelled around Brazil attempting to speak to him and I have singularly failed.
His people are so determined to stop me from asking their boss a simple question – or worse – seeing him explode into a storm of foul-mouthed invective, that my slimmest chance of a breakthrough via a temporary accreditation badge has now been revoked.
We can’t get near him for now.
But in reality, we are not very important, what is important though is a parliamentary inquiry into his handling of the pandemic.
It’s important, and worse for Mr Bolsonaro, he knows he is in trouble.
The parliamentary inquiry has gained even more traction after the country recorded more than 500,000 deaths from COVID-19.
It’s become absolute box office and Senate TV is now required viewing here in Brazil.
It’s streamed all day as witness after witness allege the government failed to buy vaccines, promoted ineffective COVID cures and neglected to source adequate oxygen supplies.
The critics of the government are not just confined to opposition politicians.
Here in the capital Brasilia, I spoke to one federal supreme court judge who met with Mr Bolsonaro in March last year.
Gilmar Mendes told me he warned the president about the impending pandemic and offered his help and support.
He described the president as a man in crisis.
“It seemed to me in that moment this was a man, I even said, a little tortured by the facts. Very emotional, very emotional,” Mr Mendes said.
“He said that the economy was doing well, and that this pandemic was now coming, and that social isolation was a poison.”
Mr Mendes said the president’s main concern was, and still is, the economy, and he prioritised it accordingly.
“So he prioritised his concerns, maybe he generated much more around the economic issue, as [this] was reflected in the organisation of the government.”
President Bolsonaro is a divisive figure in Brazil who plays entirely to his supporter base.
At his last event, in Sao Paulo, he turned up at the front of a motorbike rally.
He resolutely denies the dangers of COVID, fought against lockdowns and masks, and promoted drugs like hydroxychloroquine made famous by Donald Trump.
During a Facebook live last week, he made the argument for herd immunity saying it is “more effective against the disease than the vaccine”.
He openly advocated for exposure to the virus and downplayed the efficacy of the vaccines.
These comments came in the week scientists in Brazil warned the country’s death toll could eclipse the United States – currently the highest in the world with more than 602,000 deaths.
In my quest to speak to the president, I went to visit one of his closest political allies, former soldier now congressman General Elieser Girao Monteiro Filho.
When we arrived he was busily planning the latest presidential visit, this time to the general’s home state, Rio Grande do Norte.
He oozed pride as he pointed out the helicopter route to two events with a laser pen on his map, and then he proudly showed me pictures of him and the president, blown up into posters adorning the walls of his small office.
Like the president, General Girao, as he is known, has had COVID-19.
Unlike the president, he has been vaccinated, wears masks, and sanitises his hands.
Still, he says any inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis is politically motivated and says one man – Mr Bolsonaro – cannot be blamed for everything.
“Unfortunately COVID in Brazil, specifically in Brazil, was transformed into a political war and this political war, unfortunately, is leading to many people not getting a prescription for the medicine that immediately treats the virus,” he told me.
There is no such medicine. I assume he is referring to the president’s hydroxychloroquine treatment plan, widely debunked around the world.
Some say Brazil is in the midst of its third wave, others argue the first wave just never ended.
But even though Brazil’s infection rates are still high, lockdowns are still not regarded as the solution by this government.
“I believe the president acted correctly when he reacted [in opposition] to the closures. Lockdowns have not been successful anywhere in the world.”
Brasilia is a man-made city with wide boulevards and stylised buildings designed and built in the 1950s by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
It’s been described as a city of clean lines, rational planning and space. It feels homogenised and un-Brazilian compared to the throbbing atmospheric cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
But Brasilia is now home to one of the most important inquiries in Brazil’s recent history, and its conclusions could have consequences that change the direction of this huge country.
Next year there are elections – and the recent street protests across the country, and the latest polls showing Mr Bolsonaro’s popularity plummeting, suggest he’s in trouble.
Saskatchewan: More than 750 unmarked graves found on site of former indigenous school in Canada | World News
Investigators have found more than 750 unmarked graves at the site of a former indigenous school in Canada.
The discovery of the 751 graves follows the news that the remains of 215 children were found at another school nearby.
Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations, said: “We are treating this as a crime”.
He warned how he expected more graves to be found on residential school grounds in Canada.
And Mr Cameron vowed not to stop “until we find all the bodies”, describing the tragedy as a “crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations.”
The 751 graves were found at the Marieval Indian Residential School, open from 1899 until 1997, where Cowessess is now located.
They were marked in the past – but the markers were removed by people operating the school, said Chief Cadmusn Delmore, of the Cowessess First Nation.
The reserve is about situated about 87 miles east of Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, in western Canada.
The 215 children’s remains – some as young as three – were found buried on the former site of Canada’s largest indigenous school, near Kamloops, British Colombia, in May.
UEFA abolishes away goals rule after more than half a century | UK News
Europe’s football governing body UEFA has abolished the away goals rule for all of its club competitions from next season.
All ties that are level on aggregate at the end of the second leg will now go to extra time.
Paris Saint-Germain’s victory over Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals will go down in history as the last away goals result in the tournament before the rule change.
The rule, introduced in 1965, has led to some dramatic moments in recent years, including Tottenham’s stoppage-time success over Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-final.
UEFA said away goals would also no longer be a separating criteria when looking at matches between two or more sides level on points in the group stage of a competition.
However, the number of away goals scored in all group matches could be used as an additional separating criteria if required.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said as the end of the rule was announced: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965.
“However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.”
Mr Ceferin added that the away goals rule had begun to go against its original purpose and was dissuading home teams from attacking.
⚽ The away goals rule will be removed from all UEFA club competitions from the 2021/22 season.
— UEFA (@UEFA) June 24, 2021
This because the sides would fear conceding a goal at their own stadium would give their opponent a crucial advantage.
He continued: “There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra-time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.
“It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.”
UEFA has cited statistics since the mid-1970s which showed how the gap between home and away wins had reduced.
It talked about better pitch quality, standardised pitch sizes, and even video assistance referees (VAR) as factors in the decline of home advantage.
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