Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

The UK Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) Conference on 13 January, sponsored by the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, was presented to a packed audience.  Attendees represented news agencies, advisors, tax executives as well as other countries, including Australia.

The speaker panel was inclusive of the following presenters that provided excellent thoughts for discussion:

  • Philip Baker QC, a barrister and QC practising from Field Court Tax Chambers.
  • Michael Devereux, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, Professor of Business Taxation and Professorial Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford.
  • Paul Morton, Head of Group Tax at Reed Elsevier Group plc.
  • Heather Self, Partner at Pinsent Masons.
  • Mike Williams, Director of Business and International Tax at HMRC.

A few statements from the panelists offer some background on this debatable issue:

Philip Baker: The DPT is a Targeted Anti-Avoidance Measure.

Michael Devereux: This may represent an overlay of economic substance over existing international tax rules, and there is a debatable point if the UK treatment should depend on the incidence of income / tax inclusion somewhere else.

Paul Morton: A very real, and complex, set of facts were presented showing that countries’ initiatives may result in a tax burden that exceeds 100% of the income without adequate recourse to avoid double taxation.

Heather Self: Practical aspects, from a MNE perspective, of the proposal were presented, supplemented by comments in her 19 December article of Tax Journal.  One of the conclusions in her article states: “This measure will make BEPS more difficult to achieve, and it risks a whole raft of unilateral measures being introduced by other countries.”

Mike Williams: The DPT proposal has alot of political commitment; it is consistent with EU law and treaty obligations; the UK is trying not to tax beyond its fair share of profits; loan exclusions probably do not go far enough and to combat aggressive tax planning, why wait another year.

Comments also addressed the aggressive effective date of April 2015, noting this timeline is in advance of the final OECD BEPS guidelines and there is very little time for reasoned comments and review between now and April.

This initiative has drawn the attention of many countries, anxious to examine the potential benefits it would add to their economy.  Accordingly, it is imperative to track this proposal, its effective date, implementation and a “Follow the Leader” approach in other jurisdictions.

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