OECD BEPS action 1 on the digital economy: Some thoughts on EU State aid rules

Tax Policy Bulletin ()
The OECD held a public consultation on 23 April 2014. The consensus at this meeting supported the conclusion in the draft report that there is no separable ‘digital economy’ which is different from the economy, rather, what we are living through is a ‘digitising’ of the economy.

Notwithstanding this consensus, there was a divergence of views about what the consequences of this conclusion should be. Broadly speaking, the business representatives favoured postponing future work on the digital economy issues outlined by the OECD Task Force until it was clear what recommendations would come out of the other BEPS Action Plan groups.

Any attempts to draw up different rules applying only to digitised activities have been thought likely to fall foul of the Ottawa neutrality principle, although this is only persuasive. However, the Task Force may need to consider whether there is potentially a greater issue within the European Union if the differing tax treatment of a particular sector could amount to illegal State aid.