G20 leaders sign off on global minimum 15% corporation tax deal

Reform aimed at fairer taxation of digital giants who have minimised their liabilities

The leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies have signed off on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) deal for a global minimum 15 per cent corporation tax rate, the United States has announced.

Ireland had been one of the holdouts against the agreement to reform how multinationals are taxed, but ultimately agreed to change its long-time flagship 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate earlier this month.

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen announced that every leader of the countries representing 80 per cent of the world'economy had supported the reform at the Rome summit.

“Today, every G20 head of state endorsed an historic agreement on new international tax rules, including a global minimum tax that will end the damaging race to the bottom on corporate taxation,” said Ms Yellen. “It’s a critical moment for the US and the global economy.”


She offered congratulations to US president Joe Biden for the "achievement".

However, the president must still push the deal through the US Congress, where he may encounter resistance.

Mr Biden said the reform had received “clear” support from the 20 nations, representing “allies and competitors alike”.

“This is more than just a tax deal – it’s diplomacy reshaping our global economy and delivering for our people,” he said.

The European Union is expected to push ahead with its plans as the commission has said it will publish plans to transpose the taxation reform into EU law by the end of 2021.

The reform is aimed at bringing about a fairer taxation of the digital giants that have minimised their tax liabilities by using the most advantageous jurisdictions, drawing the ire of some of the world’s largest economies who feel their national exchequers are missing out despite vast revenues being made through sales to their citizens.

‘Reducing inequalities’

Proposed tweaks to the jurisdictions to which tax is due are expected to reduce Irish revenues by as much as €2 billion a year according to Government figures.

Opening the summit, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi lauded efforts to "reduce inequalities" and "promote sustainability" and said the success of Covid-19 vaccines and efforts to stimulate economic recovery showed there was reason for optimism.

“Together we are building a new economic model and the world will be all the better for it,” said the former central banker. He described the tax deal as “a historic agreement for a fairer and more effective international tax system”.

With the Chinese and Russian leaders participating remotely, the 20 countries are negotiating how to speed up a fairer global distribution of vaccines and preparing pledges to curb climate change in a bid to build momentum ahead of the United Nations Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times