New international tax rules proposed yesterday could eliminate structures that have allowed companies such as Starbucks, Google and Amazon to lessen their tax bills.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced a series of measures that, if implemented by members, could stop companies from employing many commonly used practices to shift profits into lower tax countries.
Corporate tax avoidance has become a hot political topic following probes and parliamentary investigations into the arrangements many big companies use to cut tax bills.
Starbucks, Amazon and Google say they pay all the taxes they should. Some analysts argue that competitive pressures force companies to seek to minimise all costs, including tax.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said changes to rules that increase its tax bill would hit innovation.
Last year, the Group of 20 leading economies asked the OECD to develop an action plan to tackle the problem.
Big US technology companies could be those most affected by the plans but others could also be hit, including pharmaceuticals and branded consumer goods firms.