OECD Working Party 1 has formed a Dispute Resolution Focus Group to address BEPS Action Plan item 14, copied herein for reference.
Focus areas of WP 1:
- Access to Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)
- Multilateral MAPs & APAs
- Adjustment issues, including timing for corresponding adjustments, self-initiated adjustments, and secondary adjustments
- Interest & Penalties
- Hybrid Entities
- Legal status of a mutual agreement
In the US, IRS has also issued Notice 2013-78 detailing a proposed Rev. Procedure on US Competent Authority procedures, including an emphasis on informal consultation for US Foreign Tax Credit determinations.
OECD BEPS ACTION 14
Make dispute resolution mechanisms more effective
Develop solutions to address obstacles that prevent countries from solving treaty-related disputes under MAP, including the absence of arbitration provisions in most treaties and the fact that access to MAP and arbitration may be denied in certain cases.
(iv) From agreed policies to tax rules: the need for a swift implementation of the measures
There is a need to consider innovative ways to implement the measures resulting from the work on the BEPS Action Plan. The delivery of the actions included in the Action Plan on BEPS will result in a number of outputs.
Some actions will likely result in recommendations regarding domestic law provisions, as well as in changes to the Commentary to the OECD Model Tax Convention and the Transfer Pricing Guidelines. Other actions will likely result in changes to the OECD Model Tax Convention. This is for example the case for the introduction of an anti-treaty abuse provision, changes to the definition of permanent establishment, changes to transfer pricing provisions and the introduction of treaty provisions in relation to hybrid mismatch arrangements.
Changes to the OECD Model Tax Convention are not directly effective without amendments to bilateral tax treaties. If undertaken on a purely treaty-by-treaty basis, the sheer number of treaties in effect may make such a process very lengthy, the more so where countries embark on comprehensive renegotiations of their bilateral tax treaties. A multilateral instrument to amend bilateral treaties is a promising way forward in this respect.
This new initiative highlights innovative and forward thinking by the OECD.
Best Practice thoughts include:
- Using MAP as a roll-forward mechanism to an APA to cover additional years beyond the MAP request
- Using simultaneous appeals and Competent Authority relief provisions
These developments merit additional attention to self-initiated adjustments, Best Practices to address secondary / corresponding adjustments and creative thinking to resolve bilateral / multilateral disputes.