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Multilateral-APA-Like Program to Create International Tax Certainty for Pilot Participants

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...

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Tax Planning in a World of Increased Transparency

Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are facing an evolving international tax landscape with long-term implications for tax compliance, planning and controversy. Understanding these changes requires continual effort. Tax Executives Institute recently invited us to explore Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting issues at the 2017 Global Tax Symposium in Houston, Texas. We had a lively discussion and know this will be a hot topic as jurisdictions begin reviewing the CbC reports. As background, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project has been a key driver of international tax reform.  BEPS “Action 13” outlined a CbC reporting standard that has been adopted in more than 55 jurisdictions. The CbC report is an annual filing obligation identifying, among other things, the amount of revenue, profit before income tax, and income tax paid and accrued for each tax jurisdiction in which the taxpayer does...

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Taxpayer Rights Around the World (Part 2)

We previously posted on Day One of the 2nd International Conference on Taxpayer Rights in Vienna, Austria. Below, we summarize the panels and issues discussed on Day Two. Four panels were held on March 14: (1) Penalties and General Anti-Avoidance Rules; (2) The Role of Intergovernmental Actors in Furthering and Protecting Taxpayer Rights: A Conversation; (3) Building Trust I: Transforming Cultures of Tax Agencies; and (4) Building Trust II: Safeguards on Tax Agency Power. Penalties and General Anti-Avoidance Rules This panel looked at current research on the use of penalties and general anti-avoidance rules in tax administration from the perspectives of legal and economic theory and taxpayer behavior. Studies were discussed that found that delayed feedback on tax audit often results in increased tax compliance but reduces the perception of procedural fairness and diminishes trust in the taxing authorities. Participants in the studies viewed receiving delayed...

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Globalism vs. Populism in the International Tax World

Adoption of the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) action items in specific countries can be expected to alter traditional multi-national enterprises (MNE) tax strategy processes. In this regard, it is appropriate to note that tax authorities and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) often seem to overlook, or conveniently ignore, that MNE strategies are often a function of the rules established by countries to develop their own tax base (at the expense of other countries). In other words, countries, in their respective self-interests, grant incentives of various sorts to encourage economic investment. MNEs take advantage of these incentives to minimize their tax liabilities, which the BEPS process views as, somehow, inappropriate behavior of MNEs denuding the tax base of other countries. Like water going downhill, MNE planning strategies will utilize the most efficient path to achieve desired objectives. This is a fiduciary...

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BEPS Multilateral Agreement

The most recent element of the ongoing global dispute resolution process is the late November 2016 release of the so-called multilateral instrument (MLI), a cornerstone of the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project. It is an ambitious effort of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to impose its will on as many countries as possible. The explanation comprises 85 single-spaced pages and 359 paragraphs. The MLI draft itself is 48 similar pages. The purpose of the MLI is to facilitate implementation of the BEPS Action items without having to go through the tedious process of amending approximately two thousand treaties. In essence, the MLI implements the BEPS Action items in treaty language. While consistency is obviously an intended result, the MLI recognizes the reality that many countries will not agree to all of the provisions. Accordingly, countries are allowed to sign the agreement, but then opt out of specific...

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Brexit: The Consequences for International Tax Planning

Just over a month has now passed since the referendum in which the United Kingdom voted narrowly to leave the European Union: an event which some have characterized as the greatest potential shock to the UK economy since the Second World War. For most multinational groups considering the potential consequences of Brexit on their tax position, however, the best advice is probably the same as that provided by the famous wartime poster: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” While much remains to be resolved about the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, what has become clear is that it will not happen quickly. The Government has stated that it will not serve formal notice of its intention to leave the European Union before the New Year, which will start a period of negotiation that, under the European Union Treaty, is anticipated to take two years. The United Kingdom is thus likely to remain an EU member state until at least 2019. Brexit will almost certainly...

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Preparing for Country-by-Country Reporting in 2016

Country-by Country (CbC) reporting is on the horizon for large US multi-national enterprises (MNE).  As part of the broader Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) project undertaken by the Group of 20 (G20) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States will soon require the parent entity of large US MNE groups to file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a new annual report that requires information regarding income earned and taxes paid by the group on a country-by-country basis.  The new reporting requirements would generally apply to US MNE groups with annual revenues of $850 million or more. Late last December, Treasury published proposed regulations detailing the future reporting process.  Recently, Robert Stack, Treasury deputy assistant secretary (international tax affairs) indicated that Treasury anticipates issuing final regulations by June 30, 2016, which would be effective for US MNEs with tax years...

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Preparing for a Tsunami of International Tax Disputes

Recently, we published a Special Report in Tax Notes International, “Preparing for a Tsunami of International Tax Disputes.”  The article can be accessed here.  While there is near-universal agreement that the number of tax disputes is going to increase, existing international tax dispute resolution processes remain in serious need of improvement. A global consensus must be reached on a process for resolving worldwide tax disputes that appeals to all stakeholders. This article focuses on recent attempts by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), United Nations (UN) and international tax community to achieve such a consensus. In short, the predictability of tax base results is a serious concern for countries and multi-national enterprises alike.  The only realistic solution is to design a dependable and independent treaty-based dispute resolution process that accommodates the needs of all stakeholders. A foundation for this process has been provided...

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