Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has recently released a consultation paper re: implementation of a Diverted Profits Tax (DPT); comments are due by 17 June 2016.  Although Australia has taken a long look at the DPT in concert with UK’s quickly enacted provisions, it took a breather while the OECD urged restraint on a far-reaching “tax” that may go beyond the intent of the OECD’s Guidelines.  A link to the paper is provided for reference:

http://www.treasury.gov.au/~/media/Treasury/Consultations%20and%20Reviews/Consultations/2016/Implementing%20a%20diverted%20profits%20tax/Key%20Documents/PDF/Diverted-profits-tax_discussion-paper.ashx

The focus of the paper is summarized in the first sentence: “The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia.”

Highlights of the proposal:

  • 40% penalty tax (non-deductible) rate, not offset by another jurisdiction’s tax (30% tax rate if an amended tax return is filed)
  • Subjective determination (i.e. reasonable to conclude)
  • Will not operate on a self-assessment basis
  • Pay first, discuss later philosophy, copying UK’s direction (12-month review period and a right to appeal)
  • Effective for years commencing on or after 1 July, 2017
  • Flow chart appendix
  • Efective for transactions that have an effective tax mismatch test (objective test) and insufficient economic substance (subjective test)
  • Draft guidance will be developed in consultation with stakeholders.

All interested parties should review this consultation paper, and provide comments to the ATO for potential changes.  It is interesting to see that transactions failing the effective mismatch test will be left exclusively with subjective determinations for possible assessments by the ATO without the benefit of dual transparency.  Additionally, the philosophy of assess now and discuss later will not be a mechanism to effectively provide more trust by taxpayers as UK, Australia and other jurisdictions are creating unilateral laws to capture taxes payable on income in other jurisdictions, potentially without the right to access treaties, claim an offset in the other jurisdictions and have access to the full process of appeals prior to payment.  As a result, the incidence of double taxation will increase.

It is hopeful the ATO will consider the comments received, and include changes to the current proposal to enhance transparency and mutuality by all parties.

 

 

 

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