Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Singapore: TP comments

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has issued a consultation paper requesting comments on a revision to their transfer pricing (TP) guidelines.  The particular questions for which comments are requested, no later than 24 September, consist of the following:

  • Challenges in preparing TP documentation contemporaneously
  • Difficulties in obtaining group and entity information in Annex A of the paper
  • Examples of low-risk documentation areas
  • Frequency of documentation updates

A link is provided for reference to the consultation paper:

http://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/uploadedFiles/About_IRAS/Public_Consultation/pconsult_IT_Transfer%20Pricing%20Documentation_2014-09-01.pdf

Key observations:

  • TP documentation to be organized in alignment with the OECD master file and local entity reporting methodology.
  • TP documentation not applicable for routine services with a 5% safe harbour mark-up
  • Inadequate TP documentation will lose the support of IRAS in MAP discussions to resolve double taxation.
  • Annex A provides additional requests for group information that may be the source of requested comments, including:
    • Worldwide organization chart
    • Group’s business models and strategies
    • Profit drivers, including a list of legal ownership for intangibles
    • Supply chain activities and functions
    • Business relationships among all related parties
    • Group’s transfer pricing policies for all types of transactions between related parties
    • Consolidated group financial statements

Singapore is a jurisdiction (and there may be many more) that is reviewing the OECD’s Action Plan country-by-country reporting template and forthcoming comments as a base upon which to expand TP reporting.

Multinationals will need to capture every country’s additional legislative requirements arising from the OECD’s Action Plan.  The additional complexity, cost and time will place a further constraint upon the ability to provide information perceived to be directly relevant for every jurisdiction around the world.  Additionally, the threat of lack of support for the MAP process via a determination of inadequate TP documentation (if legislated into law) will increase the risk of double taxation and TP appeals worldwide.

All interested parties should take time to submit comments prior to the 24 September deadline.

 

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published an interesting paper addressing the impacts that current, and proposed, international tax legislation has on others.  Selected key issues include tax treaties, indirect transfers of interests, interest deductibility, arm’s length pricing, formulary apportionment, treaty shopping, and appendices of tables and statistics.  The paper also highlights guiding principles for international tax design, timely concepts as the OECD is preparing to publish responses to several of its BEPS Action Plan items this coming week.

The paper can be referenced at:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2014/050914.pdf

The paper is valuable in addressing tax policy topics and issues, thereby setting the stage for future international tax debates.

 

 

I have attached for reference my first published article, addressing transfer pricing documentation: time for a strategy refresh.

The article was published by Accountancy Magazine.  A reference to the article is included for reference:

https://www.accountancylive.com/transfer-pricing-documentation-time-strategy-refresh

The article addresses the OECD BEPS proposals, including country-by-country reporting, with Best Practice ideas included for Action Plan items.

Additionally, insights into processes for developing a comprehensive plan for revised TP documentation are discussed.

Finally, the hot topics of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR), local tax disclosures and tax policy statements are addressed for further insight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s new transfer pricing rules require that officers signing the corporate tax return must sign off for transfer pricing arrangements on a self-assessment basis.  The self-assessment process would affirm that the transfer pricing is pursuant to arm’s length consideration that would be transacted between unrelated parties.  Details of the new self-assessment regime are referenced at the attached link:

http://www.kpmg.com/AU/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/tax-insights/Pages/a-new-obligation-for-public-officers-28-august-2014.aspx

Additional review of transfer pricing documentation may be required for self-assessment consideration.  The OECD BEPS proposals may also impact such reporting in the future.

 

China’s State Administration of Taxation (SAT) issued an internal circular, instructing tax bureaus to review, and report, companies that have made large service fee or royalty payments between 2004 and 2013.  Tax bureaus will submit their findings to the SAT by September 15, 2014, followed by special investigations and potential tax adjustments.  The transfer pricing audit period is 10 years, thus the look-back period is within the statute of limitations.  The KPMG Tax Alert is provided for reference:

https://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/taxnewsflash/Documents/tp-china-aug25-2014.pdf

Key observations:

  • SAT’s commentary to the UN in April 2014 sets forth stricter guidelines for payment and deductibility than the OECD guidelines suggest (i.e., if the beneficiary is not in need of such services or the provider also benefits, then benefit by the service recipient alone is not justification).
  • Additionally, the SAT argues that the definition of shareholder services in the OECD Guidelines is too narrow.
  • Payments made to “tax haven” jurisdictions will receive special attention.
  • Economic substance in overseas entities will be reviewed.

Service fee and royalty payments are receiving global attention by tax authorities, although this retroactive review and narrow interpretation of deductible payments by the SAT will lead to additional assessments and the risk of double taxation going forward.  Multinationals should review transfer pricing documentation with respect to China, including the identification of any duplicative services as well as the benefits received from such services by major jurisdictions.

Ernst & Young (EY) has published a very informative study, based on a survey of 830 executives in 25 markets.  The second section of the publication includes analyses of tax outlooks for 38 countries, including BEPS actions.  The 38 countries highlighted in the publication include:

Australia / Austria / Belgium / Canada / Chile / China / Czech Republic / Denmark / Finland / France / Germany / Greece / Hong Kong / Hungary / India / Ireland / Italy / Jordan / Korea / Lithuania / Luxembourg / Malaysia / Mexico / Netherlands / New Zealand / Norway / Panama / Poland / Russia / Singapore / Slovakia / South Africa / Spain / Sweden / Switzerland / United Kingdom / United States / Venezuela

A link to the publication is included for reference:

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-the-outlook-for-global-tax-policy-in-2014/$File/EY-the-outlook-for-global-tax-policy-in-2014.pdf

The publication includes an introductory section highlighting tax rates and a 2014 tax policy outlook.  The outlook includes the following sections:

  • How countries are adjusting their corporate tax base in 2014
  • Incentives
  • Withholding taxes
  • Transfer pricing changes
  • Interest / Business expense deductibility
  • Changes to tax treatment of losses
  • Changes to CFC rules / thin capitalization

The second section analyzes 38 separate countries, addressing the following topics:

  • Tax rates
  • 2014 tax policy outlook:
    • Key drivers of tax policy changes
    • Fiscal consolidation / stimulus
    • Tax policy outlook for 2014, including political landscape, current tax policy and administrative leaders, key tax policy changes in 2013, country position on OECD BEPS Action Plan, pending tax proposals and consultations opened / closed.

This publication is especially valuable in country outlooks, including the OECD BEPS Action Plan proposals, and should be consulted to develop continued awareness of current and future trends in international taxation.

 

Irish Tax and Customs has published a comprehensive report of Best Practices to be followed by the tax authorities and taxpayers in audit inquiries.  The report includes definitions, types of audits conducted, bases of risk assessment and analytics used by the tax authorities.  The following excerpt provides a brief overview of the content, which is referenced at the link provided.

  1. 1.1  Purpose of this Code of Practice

    The purpose of this Code of Practice is to set out a clear, fair and equitable set of guidelines to be followed by Revenue, taxpayers and tax practitioners, in the carrying out of all Revenue Compliance Interventions, having regard to best practice and legislation.

    The provisions of this Code of Practice are not to be used unnecessarily to delay or obstruct the due process of the application of tax legislation by Revenue carrying out duties on behalf of the State. Taxpayers or tax practitioners acting on their behalf cannot abuse the rights recognised in this Code of Practice to avoid or delay payment of tax, interest or penalties which are correctly owed. The Code of Practice does not restrict the taxpayer’s statutory rights.

    This Code of Practice will be reviewed on an on-going basis and may be modified to reflect changes in legislation and emerging practices.

  2. 1.2  Taxes and Duties Covered by this Code of Practice

    This Code of Practice applies to Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Local Property Tax, Exit Taxes, VAT, Capital Acquisitions Tax, Excise Duties and Licences, Carbon Taxes, Vehicle Registration Tax, Stamp Duties, Customs Duties, Universal Social Charge, Income Levy, Domicile Levy, PRSI (both employers and employees), Health Contributions, Environmental Levy, Training Levy and includes all forms of withholding (e.g. RCT, PSWT, DWT) that apply to any of these taxes, interest in respect of such taxes and penalties.

http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/ebrief/2014/no-682014.html

The publication is informative and an invaluable reference for any type of audit inquiry that is conducted.

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