Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Permanent Establishment (PE) risk is receiving increased visibility around the world, in established countries and emerging markets.  Therefore, have you increased your focus to strategize Best Practices to minimize this risk?  The following ideas are presented for consideration:

  • Coordination of employee transfers/assignments to understand new roles and responsibilities, legal entities, etc.
  • PE global training to increase awareness, collaborating with the Human Resource function.
  • Review tax treaties for all business changes to understand PE triggers and exceptions.
  • Utilizing special purpose entities to centralize, or isolate, potential risks.
  • Developing a Do’s and Don’ts list to discuss with the business; attach to Job Descriptions, as applicable.
  • Formal PE technical training, at least annually, for all employees having international tax responsibilities.
  • If consideration of PE risk is coordinated by external advisors, develop a collaboration plan to review regularly.
  • “Presence” test PE safe harbor, dependent on treaty: Who is counting the days and coordinating related steps of a project?
  • “Preparatory & Auxiliary” PE treaty exception: review Form vs. Substance on a recurring basis.
  • Develop PE expertise and clarify roles of internal staff and external advisors.
  • Proactive vs. reactive PE determinations, understand when a proactive PE determination may be beneficial.
  • Follow PE trends of aggressive jurisdictions with scenario planning.
  • Collaborate with the business to understand upcoming strategies that may introduce new PE risks.
  • Review “Branch” activities annually to determine if they exceed allowable actions in the respective countries.
  • Establish a collaborative process for entry into new countries to ensure tax coordination and risk identification.
  • Ensure a communication protocol is established for response to PE allegations that are made public.
  • Following current events for OECD and UN model conventions, as well as related commentaries
  • Identification, with mitigating controls, in tax risk  and ERM framework

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