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Taxation of SMEs in OECD and G20 Countries

image of Taxation of SMEs in OECD and G20 Countries

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are important for their contribution to employment, innovation, economic growth and diversity. This report examines the tax treatment of SMEs, the case for SME preferences, and the use of tax preferences and simplification measures for SMEs in thirty-nine OECD and G20 countries. It finds that many of the tax systems examined provide incentives to incorporate and to distribute income in certain types of capital form. Ideally, taxes should be neutral with regard to the business decisions of SMEs, including decisions related to their creation, form and growth. However, certain features of the tax system may disproportionately affect SMEs, for example, the asymmetric treatment of profits and losses, a bias toward debt over corporate equity, and the higher fixed costs of tax and regulatory compliance for small businesses. This report recommends that measures designed to address these concerns be carefully targeted to affected firms and seek to avoid introducing further distortions and complexity.

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Executive summary

In most countries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent more than 95% of all firms. SMEs account for a large proportion of total employment and contribute significantly to national and global economic growth. They are also strongly heterogeneous: across and within industries and sectors; in their innovation behaviours; and in their profitability and growth potential. Importantly, SMEs also generate a significant share of all taxable business income in most economies.

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