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Taxation of SMEs in OECD and G20 Countries

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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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Foreword and Acknowledgements

Fostering the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is rightly a cross-cutting priority of the Turkish G20 Presidency. SMEs are the economic backbone of many of our economies and they serve as key engines for job creation. This study, Taxation of SMEs in OECD and G20 Countries, examines the influence of tax systems on a range of challenges faced by SMEs, including decisions relating to their creation, form and growth. SMEs make up the vast majority of business entities and contribute strongly to employment and economic growth, spanning the full breadth of industries and sectors, and differing in their propensity to innovate and grow. At the same time, SMEs face particular challenges in relation to their access to finance. The tax system plays a dual role: at times, as a tool to assist in overcoming these challenges, and at others, as an obstacle.

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