Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Archive for August, 2013

Meetings: team collaboration for success

Meetings are designed to be collaborative and solution oriented, with all members of the team aligned going forward.  The author of this article, Fed Kofman, has provided a valuable approach to meetings, with all attendees actively participating and contributing to the overall objective.  The article is thought provoking and insightful to further Best Practices.

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130827185129-36052017-put-your-meeting-on-the-wall

Fred Kofman, Ph.D. in Economics, is Professor of Leadership and Coaching at the Conscious Business Center of the University Francisco Marroquín and a faculty member of Lean In. He is the author of Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values (also available as an audio progra

OECD Multilateral Convention: Automatic information sharing among G20 countries

With China’s commitment on 27 August 2013, all G20 countries have signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (Convention), resulting in automatic exchange of information as the new global standard.

Tax authorities are cooperating multilaterally and automatically, as the Convention provides for spontaneous exchange of information, simultaneous tax examinations and tax assistance.  The accompanying press release, including a list of the 56 signatories, is available at:

http://www.oecd.org/tax/china-joins-international-efforts-to-end-tax-evasion.htm

What are the implications on Best Practices for these continuing developments?  Ideas for consideration include the following:

  • Providing taxpayer information to one authority should be viewed as being provided to many countries worldwide, thus maintaining consistency is essential.  A formal methodology will ensure Best Practices are being followed.
  • Tax assistance, simultaneous examinations and joint audits should be envisioned for reviewing the global Tax Risk Framework.
  • Best Practices for implementation of Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) are a topic of frequent discussion by tax authorities worldwide; thus Best Practices for Multinationals should also be focused on risk identification, measurement and application of MAP.
  • Related posts for reference:
  1. 23 July, OECD exchange of information: Multilateral Convention review
  2. 27 June, OECD FTA MAP forum to develop Best Practices
  3. 25 June, OECD report to the G20: Status, training, effectiveness
  4. 20 June, OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information: Activities
  5. 18 June, OECD: Tax Transparency report.

PE Best Practices Risk Review: BEPS Action Plan, OECD & UN Model Conventions

A Permanent Establishment (PE) risk review is an integral component of a global Tax Risk Framework, increasing in importance with issuance of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan.  The PE risk review should be monitored on a recurring basis against the backdrop of current and future developments.  The OECD and UN Model Conventions, with related Commentaries, provide insight into the development and current state of international PE guidelines.  The Conventions provide a useful framework to document specific PE criteria, and exceptions thereto, for risk analysis.

Action 6 (Prevent Treaty Abuse) of the BEPS Action Plan states that the definition of PE must be updated to prevent abuses.  Action 7 (Prevent the artificial avoidance of PE status) provides additional PE initiatives.  Actions 6 and 7 are designed to implemented by September 2014 and September 2015, respectively.  It will be paramount to note any changes in the “preparatory or auxiliary” exception.  A link to the BEPS Action Plan is hereby provided for reference:  http://www.oecd.org/ctp/BEPSActionPlan.pdf

Article 5 of the OECD Model Convention provides an outline for PE determination, including a “fixed place of business” standard, building site or installation project criteria, the “preparatory or auxiliary character” exception, dependent agent rules and further exceptions for activities of an independent agent and related entities.  The OECD Model Convention can be accessed at: http://www.oecd.org/tax/treaties/oecdmtcavailableproducts.htm

The OECD Commentaries are required reading to fully comprehend the history, and intended meaning, of Article 5.  Paragraph 2 of the Commentary provides an outline for determination of a “fixed place of business,” consisting of (i) the existence of a “place of business,” (ii) this place of business must be “fixed,” and (iii) the carrying on of the business through this fixed place of business.  Paragraph 24 of the Commentary states that , for application of the “fixed place of business” rule, “the decisive criterion is whether or not the activity of the fixed place of business in itself forms an essential and significant part of the activity of the enterprise as a whole.”  Paragraph 33 further provides that “the authority to conclude contracts must cover contracts relating to operations which constitute the business proper of the enterprise.”

The attached reference provides access to the UN Model Convention, Letter from India (13 Aug 2012), revised commentary on existing Article 5 and definition of PE for comprehensive understanding of the current PE Article.  The UN Model Convention contains an Introduction, Part One (including the Articles), and Part Two with Commentaries.  Paragraph 20 of the Commentaries states that the Commentaries on the Articles are regarded as part of the UN Model Convention, along with the Articles themselves.  Most importantly, Part Two cites differences of the UN and OECD Model Conventions, such as the UN inclusion of a services standard, exceeding 183 days in any 12-month period, that is not within the OECD guidelines.   http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/tax/unmodel.htm

Best Practice ideas for outlining PE risk include:

  • Documenting potential significant PE risks by legal entity, with specific reference to the PE attribute that attracts such risk, such as a fixed place of business or dependent agent.
  • Outlining availability of the preparatory or auxiliary character exception for potential risks.
  • Inclusion of objective and subjective evidence that provides defense for a potential PE determination, including wording from the applicable Convention and Commentaries.
  • Tools available to reduce double taxation upon determination of a PE, such as the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP).

The above Best Practices should be combined with Best Practice ideas in former posts:

  • 14 April PE Risks: Best Practices for Awareness & Planning
  • 14 July: PwC PE survey: Trends & Challenges

PE determination is increasing in importance in today’s changing tax world, thus a detailed risk matrix is essential to determine current potential risk areas, as well as provide valuable information to assess proposed changes by the OECD and/or UN.

China APA Report 2012: More APAs

http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/n8136506/n8136608/n9947993/n9948014/n12360820.files/n12360827.pdf?goback=%2Enmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1#%21

THe 2012 Annual Report outlines China’s Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) process, in addition to statistics for 2005 – 2012.  The agenda of the report includes:

  • APA Program definition and advantages
  • Legislation and Development of APA program
  • APA Procedures
  • Taxpayers’ Rights
  • Statistics and Contacts
  • Appendices, including formal meetings and applications

A Best Practices methodology addressing APA’s should be outlined in the global Tax Risk Framework for every multinational corporation.  This methodology will summarize some of the following points:

  • A description of the decision matrix for an APA and its implementation
  • Preference for unilateral or bilateral APAs
  • Implementation of global/regional/country proactive and/or reactive risk management tools
  • Outline of significant jurisdictions, timelines, work plan, and accountability for implementation
  • Integral coordination with tax counsel, and other functional business units
  • Review plan for an APA methodology in today’s rapidly changing tax environment (evidenced recently by the change in administrative leadership for the India APA program)
  • Review of applicable gaps that may exist to retrieve information readily for proactive, or reactive, APAs

Tax jurisdictions, and MNEs, are increasing their focus on APAs amidst a trend of growing uncertainty and complexity in international transfer pricing principles.  The China APA Report provides good preparation for a better understanding of the complex, and lengthy, preparation needed by all parties to obtain an APA.

Presentation Skills, A Valuable Leadership Attribute

Presentation and negotiation skills are two critical factors that  distinguish an exemplary leader.  Emphasis on these valuable personal attributes should be addressed by everyone continually, and formally reviewed once or more annually to measure success.

This post will address some ideas for the use of presentation skills, with recommended sources of reference.  My prior post, 14 August, discusses negotiation skills and tools for development.

Suzanne Bate’s books and personal coaching camps are highly recommended, with a link provided to her informative website.   I have also updated her power speaker blog on my Recommended Links page. I can personally attest to the valuable lessons learned from her personalized classes.

http://www.bates-communications.com/our-people/suzanne-bates/

Suzanne is author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (McGraw Hill), which went to #6 on the bestseller charts on amazon.com in 2005. The book has also been published in 5 languages including Chinese, Russian and Indonesian.  Suzanne has since published two more books, Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!, and Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets for Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Value as a Leader, with McGraw Hill, and both books have become business best-sellers on amazon.com.

Some ideas for improving presentation skills include:

  • Different participants should present topic agenda items at meetings.
  • Formalizing presentation training goals in a personal development plan.
  • Organizing presentation exercises / workshops.
  • Practice telling a powerful story, starting with individual passions.
  • Review effectiveness of Power Point presentations for lessons to be learned.
  • Provide a mentor relationship.
  • Encourage individuals to sign up as presenters at relevant conferences.
  • Discuss Best Practices in company publications, providing encouragement for others.
  • Develop a source of Best Practice presentation resources, including those of Suzanne Bates.

The above references and ideas will hopefully provide inspiration for current and future leaders.

The Art of Negotiation: Improve your leadership skills

Negotiation is an art and acquired skill; as such it should be a continuous journey for every tax executive.  Negotiation is used by everyone every day, personally and professionally.  For example, it can be used to develop a win-win result in cross-functional issues with a geographically diverse team or equally in discussions with tax authorities to concisely explain transfer pricing concepts.

In today’s world of tax subjectivity and controversy, negotiation is a requisite (and often neglected) skill for local, regional and global tax teams, as well as other leaders in the business.  Conveying technical tax terms and complicated transactions simply, succinctly and convincingly is a leadership skill that becomes more important as one’s career progresses.  Notwithstanding this necessity, negotiation is a skill that is not an integral part of everyone’s development program.

Books, presentations and conferences are focused on negotiation, and I will pass along some tremendous resources I have used that are easy to read and implement daily.  It is also fun to see  the results!  Gerry Spence, a U.S. renowned trial lawyer, has written the following two books for your consideration:

  • How to Argue and Win Every Time – At Home, at Work, in Court, Everywhere, Every Day
  • Win Every Case: How to Present, Persuade and Prevail – Every Place, Every Time

I highly recommend the above resources, related articles posted herein, and look forward to your ideas on this important leadership topic.

Cover of "How to Argue and Win Every Time...

Cover of How to Argue and Win Every Time

Please ensure you, and your teams, have a negotiation goal for 2013!

New Zealand GAAR & Parliament’s intentions

Click to access is1301.pdf

The New Zealand Inland Revenue has issued an interpretation statement about a “tax avoidance arrangement.”  It sets out the approach the Commissioner will take to ss BG 1 and GA 1 of the Income Tax Act 2007. Section BG 1 is the general anti-avoidance provision in the Act. Section GA 1 enables the Commissioner to make an adjustment as a result of the application of s BG 1.

Section BG 1 voids a tax avoidance arrangement. An “arrangement” is defined widely and includes formal, legally enforceable contracts through to informal, unenforceable understandings.

The Commissioner’s approach to analyzing and applying s BG 1 is set out in a flow chart that outlines the sequence of analysis undertaken to establish whether an arrangement is a tax avoidance arrangement.  There are also examples illustrating how the approach is worked.

The Commissioner has a broad discretion as to the adjustments that can be made to counteract the tax advantage. There is no duty to describe precisely the actual basis for an adjustment. Further, the Commissioner may adjust the taxable income of any person affected by the arrangement.  A person can be affected by an arrangement whether they are a party to the arrangement and whether they are aware that they benefited from a tax avoidance arrangement.

However, s BG 1 may apply even if there is a specific anti-avoidance provision that accompanies the provisions used or circumvented.

This “interpretation” is very subjective, outlining the manner in which a taxpayer may envision Parliament’s intentions.  The examples  and flowchart may be helpful, and the interpretation is a “must read” for documentation of significant planning transactions in New Zealand.

Best Practices for GAAR developments are included in prior posts including: GAAR; Poland’s reintroduction (8 August), EY 2013 survey; GAAR history/trends & Tax Treaty vs. domestic law application (7 August), and UK Finance Act 2013; GAAR has arrived (21 July).

GAAR: Poland’s reintroduction

Click to access com_2012_722_en.pdf

Poland’s Minister of Finance plans to reintroduce a general anti-abuse rule (GAAR).  GAAR was in brief existence from 2003-2004, however the vague principles led to its removal.

The GAAR reintroduction follows the European Commission’s recommendation in December 2012, with a link attached for reference.  The European Commission Initiatives, Section 8, Recommendation on aggressive tax planning, states “The Commission also recommends a common GAAR.  This would help to ensure coherence and effectiveness in an area where Member State practice varies considerably.”

The GAAR proposal would apply to all types of taxes, with a 30% penalty of avoided tax via a “tax avoidance” transaction.  Appeal provisions are envisioned, in addition to advance rulings, although the time and expense for advance certainty may prove to be impractical.  A GAAR Council would provide an “expert” GAAR opinion that is not binding on the tax authorities.

Poland’s GAAR proposal should be analyzed for Best Practices, coupled with insights from prior posts: EY GAAR survey (7 August) and UK Finance Act 2013: GAAR has arrived (21 July).

It is hopeful that Poland will focus on learnings from the original GAAR introduction, as well as gain insight for Best Practices from other countries that have adopted a fair, and effective, GAAR.  It will be important to observe how the new GAAR legislation will correspond, or override, its double tax treaty provisions, and if the burden of proof will reside with the taxpayer and/or the tax authorities.

Most importantly, Best Practices should be continually reviewed, and revised,  for inclusion of new GAAR proposals and principles that are an integral part of the global Tax Risk Framework.  As stated in the European Commission report, each country’s practice is , and will continue to be, significantly different.  Robust documentation, in proactive tax risk management and planning memorandums, will provide directly relevant evidence to defend the subjective principles and guidelines of GAAR.

EY 2013 survey: GAAR history/trends & Tax Treaty vs. domestic law application

Click to access GAAR_rising_1%20Feb_2013.pdf

The EY report is invaluable in explaining the origins of a general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR), recent developments and future trends.  It provides a comprehensive background on GAAR, including results from a survey of 24 countries.  The February 2013 report looks at various countries developing GAAR, European Commission recommendations, how and when GAAR measures may be invoked, and what companies can do to mitigate risk in their tax risk management.  One of the many highlights in the report is the comparison of tax treaties and domestic application of GAAR.

Examples of EY insights include the following:

  • GAAR is defined as a set of broad principles-based rules within a country’s tax code designed to counteract the perceived avoidance of tax.
  • Tax law designed to deal with particular transactions of concern are termed as either specific anti-avoidance rules (SAARs) or targeted anti-avoidance rules (TAARs).
  • China had started 248 GAAR cases in 2011, concluding 207 cases with taxes collected of $3.8 billion.
  • Each country will have its own definition of an “abusive” or “avoidance” transaction that could be the target of its GAAR.
  • A tax benefit, transaction or arrangement within GAAR regimes are not unified, thus requiring a close review of each country’s definitions.
  • GAAR independent review panels are developing to oversee its application
  • Virtually all countries have multiple SAAR and/or TAAR provisions, although only a few have been abolished with introduction of a GAAR.
  • Inconsistency of GAAR application to arrangements that have already been subject to one or more SAAR measures in that jurisdiction, including India, China and Chile.
  • China SAT seems to be expanding its beneficial ownership test into an anti-treaty shopping/anti-abuse test, creating more uncertainty.
  • The use of GAAR also extends to benefits provided by tax treaties.  Tax treaties include bilateral anti-avoidance provisions, although several countries are applying unilateral anti-avoidance measures via interpretations of existing treaties or applying domestic law GAAR provisions to treaty benefits.
  • Countries are including in their tax treaties explicit authorization of the application of domestic law anti-avoidance provisions.
  • Approx. 12 of 24 countries surveyed allow their GAAR provisions to override existing tax treaties, unilaterally or applying domestic GAAR.
  • 30% of participants from a 2012 GAAR webcast responded that they do not address GAAR within their tax risk management approach.
  • Best Practice: Use a tax governance framework with documented processes for significant transaction sign-off.
  • Best Practice: New GAAR, SAAR and TAAR proposals should be monitored and factored into the tax life cycle of a multinational business
  • Best Practice: Transaction documents should state the intended purpose of the overall transaction, as well as each step therein.
  • Best Practice: Document alternative positions considered, demonstrating that the final position was the only reasonable position to obtain the commercial objectives, and that there were no transactional steps taken that were explicable only in a tax benefit context.
  • Best Practice: Obtain external advice on significant transactions, including opinions on GAAR.

Several tables include insightful observations, including:

  1. Table 1, GAAR introduction timeline in various countries
  2. Table 2, Burden of proof for each country; taxpayer, tax authority, or shared
  3. Table 3, Examples of 2011-12 tax treaties with reference to application of domestic anti-avoidance rules in the treaty context.
  4. Table 4, Countries providing GAAR rulings/clearances

Additionally, eight questions are posed for a Board to ask in relation to GAAR:

  1. Does the transaction have a valid commercial purpose?
  2. Is the transaction unique and complex?
  3. Is the tax benefit material to the financial statement?
  4. Could the transaction  be undertaken in a different manner, without attracting the potential application of GAAR?
  5. Has an opinion been obtained that the transaction will more likely than not withstand a GAAR challenge?
  6. Is the transaction defendable in the public eye?
  7. What is the corporation’s tax risk profile both globally and locally?
  8. How comfortable is the corporation with litigation if it is required to defend the transaction?

The Appendix of the report provides answers, for each of the 24 countries, to the following queries:

  • Does a GAAR exist?  If so, year of introduction and effective date
  • Can the GAAR be applied retrospectively?
  • Do specific anti-abuse measures exist?
  • Does your country have specific legislation in place related to the indirect transfer of assets?
  • What are the circumstances in which the GAAR can be invoked?
  • Is the burden of proof on the taxpayer or taxing authority?
  • Does your country have a GAAR panel?
  • What is the attitude of the tax authority toward invoking a GAAR?
  • Is a clearance/rulings mechanism available?
  • Can the GAAR override treaties when invoked?
  • What penalties may result from the GAAR being invoked?
  • Provide a summary of key judicial decisions involving GAAR or other anti-abuse legislation.
  • Are there any legislative proposals or open consultations that may affect the future composition of a GAAR?

Prior posts for additional reference:

  • 6 August; U.N. Committee of Experts to address the Manual for Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties in October 2013
  • 21 July; UK Finance Act 2013: GAAR has arrived
  • 19 July; OECD BEPS Report & Action Plan
  • 4 July; Italy: New Co-operative Compliance Program
  • 29 June; Board Oversight and Responsibilities for Tax Risk Management
  • 13 June; OECD: A Framework for Co-operative Compliance
  • 5 June; GAAR: India & International Perspective

This report is a comprehensive review of GAAR and should form a foundation for planning significant transactions and adopting Best Practices within the global Tax Risk Framework.  For example, the eight questions to be posed by the Board could form Best Practices for planning significant transactions.  The report is a valuable tool for regional and global tax teams as the trend of GAAR, and understanding its subjective principles, is becoming more complex in today’s ever-changing tax environment.   

U.N. Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters: update

http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/tax/

The U.N. Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (U.N. Committee ) is responsible for drafting the U.N. model tax treaty and the Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries.  The U.N. Committee’s work on international tax and transfer pricing developments should be watched closely by the international tax community.  Additionally, developments on important topics should be compared with that of the OECD, including its Revised Draft on Transfer Pricing Aspects of Intangibles (03 August post), White Paper on Transfer Pricing Documentation (31 July post) and the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan (19 July post).

The attached link provides reference to its provisional agenda for the 21-25 October 2013 session, the appointment of 25 members to the U.N. Committee for a 4-year term expiring on 30 June 3017 and the U.N. Model Double Taxation Convention.

The 9th session of the U.N. Committee will address U.N. Model Tax Convention issues, including the following:

  • Article 4 (Resident): Application of treaty rules to hybrid entities
  • Article 5 (PE), including international VAT cases
  • Article 7 (Business Profits): Force of attraction principles
  • Article 9 (Associated Enterprises): Commentary update
  • Article 26 (Exchange of information)
  • Other topics, including provision on taxation of fees for technical services, issues for the next update of The Practical Transfer Pricing Manual for Developing Countries, and The Manual for Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries.

The 25 members were appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and will act in their personal capacity.  A detailed biography of each member is included in the press release; a listing of their name and current position is provided herein for quick reference.

  1. Mr. Khalid Abdulrahman Almuftah, Deputy Director, Revenues and Tax Dept., Ministry of Economy and Finance, Qatar
  2. Mr. Mohammed Amine Baina, Chief, Division for International Cooperation, Dept. of Taxation, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Morocco
  3. Ms. Bernadette May Evelyn Butler, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Bahamas
  4. Mr. Andrew Dawson, Head, Tax Treaty Team, HMRC, UK
  5. Mr. El Hadj Ibrahima Diop, Director of Legislation and Litigation Studies, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Senegal
  6. Mr. Johan Cornelius de la Rey, Legal Officer, Legal and Policy Division, South African Revenue Service (SARS)
  7. Ms. Noor Azian Abdul Hamid, Director, Multinational Tax Dept., Inland Revenue Board (IRBM), Malaysia
  8. Ms. Liselott Kana, Head, Dept. of International Taxation, Internal Revenue Service, Chile
  9. Mr. Toshiyuki Kemmochi, Director, Mutual Agreement Procedures, National Tax Agency, Japan
  10. Mr. Cezary Krysiak, Director, Tax Policy Dept., Ministry of Finance, Poland
  11. Mr. Armando Lara Yaffar, Director General, Int’l Affairs, Dept. of Revenue, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Mexico
  12. Mr. Wolfgang Karl Albert Lasars, Director, International Tax Section, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany
  13. Mr. Tizhong Liao, Deputy Director General of Tax Treaty, Dept. of International Taxation, State Administration of Taxation, China
  14. Mr. Henry John Louie, Deputy to the Int’l Tax Counsel (Treaty Affairs), U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
  15. Mr. Enrico Martino, Head, International Relations, Dept. of Finance, Ministry of the Economy and Finance, Italy
  16. Mr. Eric Nii Yarboi Mensah, Chief Tax Treaty Negotiator, Ghana Double Tax Treaty Convention Team
  17. Mr. Ignatius Kawaza Mvula, Assistant Director, Zambia Revenue Authority
  18. Ms. Carmel Peters, Policy Manager, Inland Revenue, New Zealand
  19. Mr. Jorge Antonio Deher Rachid, Tax and Customs, Embassy of Brazil, Washington, D.C.
  20. Mr. Satit Rungkasiri, Director General, Revenue Dept., Ministry of Finance, Thailand
  21. Ms. Pragya S. Saksena, Joint Secretary, Tax Policy and Legislation, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Dept. of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, India
  22. Mr. Christoph Schelling, Head, Division for International Tax Affairs, State Secretariat for Int’l Financial Matters, Swiss Federal Dept. of Finance
  23. Mr. Stig B. Sollund, Director General and Head of Tax Law Dept., Ministry of Finance, Norway
  24. Ms. Ingela Willfors, Director, Int’l Tax Dept., Ministry of Finance, Sweden
  25. Mr. Ulvi Yusifov, Head, Int’l Treaties Division, Int’l Relations Dept., Ministry of Taxes, Azerbaijan

It will be interesting to observe the interaction of new U.N. Committee members, and most importantly the initiatives addressed against the backdrop of the OECD’s recent developments.

EY 2013 Global Transfer Pricing survey: A sea of change

Click to access EY-2013-GTP-Survey.pdf

This very insightful, and timely, survey of senior tax professionals in 26 countries clearly portrays a significant increase in transfer pricing controversies and resulting double taxation.  The survey indicates that 66% of the respondents identified “risk management” as the highest transfer pricing priority.

Some challenges cited in the report include:

  • Governmental authorities expanding definitions of “aggressive tax planning”
  • Permanent Establishment (PE) assertions, including reliance on proposed changes to the commentary to Article 5 of the OECD Model Treaty
  • Reputational risks
  • Public perception
  • Increased transfer pricing complexity

Other findings include:

  1. 55% increase in Competent Authority cases from 2010
  2. 28% of the companies utilized Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)
  3. 26% of the companies entered into Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
  4. Master file documentation methodology may not be compliant in Africa, Asia and Latin America
  5. 41% expect intangibles to be the most important area in the next 2 years
  6. Intangible issues included assertion of uncompensated marketing intangibles and dispute over legal vs. beneficial ownership
  7. Over 75% of PE issues arose from frequent business travelers, seconded employees and providing services through employees or other personnel abroad (PE statistics on page 23)
  8. BRICs and Africa are #1 or #2 ranking in transfer pricing priority for 30% of such companies, although 75% of those companies have no full-time transfer pricing personnel located in those jurisdictions

The report concludes with detailed survey responses for each of the 26 countries, addressing the following topics:

  1. Importance of transfer pricing
  2. Audit and controversy experience
  3. Trends in transfer pricing approaches, topics and enforcement
  4. Operationalizing transfer pricing

Best Practice considerations presented for insight include:

  • Indirect taxes, including customs and VAT, should be an integral part of the transfer pricing process, notwithstanding different functional reporting
  • Attention to detail, via frequent reviews, for intercompany transactions should be  a recurring process to ensure substance matches the form cited in transfer pricing documentation
  • Review of current transfer pricing methodologies
  • Renewed focus on controversy and dispute resolution techniques, including MAP, APAs and arbitration
  • Reputational risk consideration

The survey provides a thoughtful perspective in addition to recently issued consultation documents by the OECD re: transfer pricing documentation and intangibles, as well as recent general anti-abuse rules (GAAR) drafted and/or legislated into law.

This survey is especially insightful when compared to prior posts re: OECD Revised Draft on Transfer Pricing Aspects of Intangibles (3 August), OECD White Paper on Transfer Pricing Documentation suggesting a Masterfile and Local file approach (31 July), UK Finance Act 2013: GAAR has arrived (21 July), OECD BEPS report and Action Plan (19 July), PwC PE survey: Trends & Challenges (14 July), OECD: A Framework for Co-operative Compliance (13 June), UN: Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing & Tax Training Initiatives (2 June), A new role: Head of tax controversy (3 May), Global Mobility & International Tax: Alignment for Best Practices (24 April), and  PE Risks & Best Practices for Awareness & Planning (14 April).

OECD (Revised) Draft: Transfer Pricing Aspects of Intangibles

http://www.oecd.org/ctp/transfer-pricing/intangibles-discussion-draft.htm

Working Party No. 6 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) has prepared a Revised Discussion Draft on Intangibles, following an earlier Discussion Draft in June 2012.  This revised Draft includes changes based upon comments received, including a public consultation, in 2012.

This Draft addresses, directly and indirectly, actions contained in the OECD Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“BEPS Action Plan”).  Refer to my 19 July 2013 post for information on the OECD BEPS Action Plan.

The changes in the Draft  include a new section addressing local market features, location savings, assembled workforce and group synergies, in addition to explanatory changes to the definition of intangibles.  As stated in the Revised Discussion Draft, a transfer pricing intangible is not solely determined by its general tax or accounting characterization.  The intangible definition is also mutually exclusive from the definition of royalties for purposes of Article 12 of the OECD Model Tax Convention.  Additionally, functions, assets and risks related to intangibles are determined via the functional analysis, and are not presumed to be held by the legal owner of the intangible.

The Draft includes an interesting discussion of the use of projected growth rates and discount rates, including examples in the Annex to illustrate the guidance on special considerations for intangibles.

Written comments may be submitted to the OECD on or before 1 October 2013.  A public consultation will also be held on 12-13 November 2013 in Paris, France, selecting speakers from those providing written comments.

Analogous to my 31 July 2013 post for the OECD White Paper on Transfer Pricing Documentation, this Revised Discussion Draft should be reviewed and compared with the current methodology for intangibles, noting significant variations for internal analysis.  Intangibles are a significant component of transfer pricing, thus this Draft should be seriously considered by all multinationals.

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