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.



Tax preferences for SMEs

This chapter discusses tax preferences that are available to SMEs. It begins with an assessment of the case for the provision of tax preferences for SMEs, before discussing tax preferences provided to SMEs in 38 OECD and G20 countries. Tax preferences are divided into preferences provided at the entity level (e.g. enhanced deductions, tax credits and exemptions targeted at SMEs) and those provided to owners (e.g. incentives for investment, preferential treatment of income or losses from SMEs, and preferences on disposal of SME assets). The chapter concludes by discussing the impact of tax preferences on the decisions of SMEs, outlining principles to guide the implementation of these measures. Finally, it provides a summary table of preferences reported by the 38 countries.


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