On January 23, 2018, the International Compliance Assurance Programme (ICAP) was launched at an orientation event in Washington, DC. The ICAP pilot is a voluntary program in which the participants will use country-by-country reporting and other information to establish multilateral agreements in order to establish early tax certainty and assurance. The ICAP handbook can be found here.
The pilot program includes eight Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) member tax administrations and eight multinational entities (one headquartered in each of the eight countries including: Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States). Under the program, the participant will engage with several jurisdictions at once in order to efficiently establish and address the specific international tax risks posed by its transfer pricing and permanent establishments. The tax administrations will jointly review the information supplied by the participant and will coordinate any follow-up questions. The participant can then engage with the tax administrations simultaneously, preventing the need for multiple APAs and resulting in fewer disputes.
Initially the participant will provide a package of documentation either to the tax administration in its headquarter jurisdiction or to each participating tax administration directly. Approximately six weeks after the documentation is provided, a kick-off meeting will be held between the participant and all of the participating tax administrations. Each participating tax administration will then conduct an assessment of the transfer pricing and permanent establishment risks. Finally, each participating tax administration will issue an outcome letter setting forth the areas where that administration has been able to gain assurance and identifying tax risks that remain. Participating multinational entities are expected to receive tax assurance for the 2018 and 2019 filing periods.
The pilot ICAP handbook lays out a specified timeframe for each of the phases and some ICAP risk assessments may be completed in at little as 17 weeks. It is expected that all cases be complete within 12 months. The lessons learned from the pilot will be shared with other FTA member tax administrations with a view to a possible roll-out of a broader ICAP following the pilot.
Practice Point: ICAP has the potential to provide tax certainty in multiple jurisdictions, which could be of great benefit to multinational taxpayers. We look forward to following the progress of this new program.