As 2019 year-end is quickly approaching, there are important items of legislation still pending, including the following:
- US Tax Act (TCJA) technical corrections, including the ability to apply transition tax overpayments (several Republicans and Democrats have already agreed to sponsor a relevant bill), and CFC downward attribution rules
- Tax extenders, including the important look-through rules for CFC’s, which expires at the end of this year
- Additional tax treaties will be reviewed, following the recent ratification of Spain and Japan treaties with the US
- Final BEAT regulations, with new proposed regulations in some areas
- Section 163(j) rules for application to CFC’s
- GILTI high-tax exclusions
- Final foreign tax credit regulations
- Section 245A dividends received deduction regulations
- FDII and anti-hybrid regulations
The above items are important as stand-alone items, and represent a significant amount of regulations to absorb prior to year-end if they can be issued this year.
These changes may significantly impact the annual ETR of multinationals in the fourth quarter, as well as introduce new TCJA concepts into treaties and complex Limitation of Benefit (LOB) clauses therein.
The TCJA complexities, and interpretations thereto, continue this year and next, posing compliance and planning uncertainties going forward.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provided additional details, as referenced.
The US tax treaty protocols will enter into force between US and the countries of Japan and Spain.
The Japanese protocol will have effect for withholding taxes (e.g., related to dividends and interest) for amounts paid or credited on or after the first day of the third month following the date on which the protocol enters into force — that is, 1 November 2019. For all other taxes, the Japanese Protocol will apply to tax years beginning on or after 1 January 2020.
For withholding taxes, the Spanish protocol generally will apply to amounts paid or credited on or after 27 November 2019, the date on which the protocol enters into force. For taxes determined by reference to a tax period, the protocol will apply for tax years beginning on or after 27 November 2019 (e.g., 1 January 2020, for calendar-year taxpayers). In all other cases, the protocol will apply on or after 27 November 2019.
The key features of the protocols are detailed in the EY Global Tax Alert, as reference. For the Spanish protocol, the new limitation on benefits requirements must be met timely for treaty-based withholding rates to apply.
As the French digital services tax (DST) is in effect from 1/1/2019, with the first payment due in November, there is considerable uncertainty how this tax will be repealed/refunded when/if an OECD DST model takes its place.
The politicians see this as a potential remedy to put out the fire which started with implementation of this tax. However, this issue becomes more complex from an international tax perspective as to how a refund/repeal would be treated: prospectively, retroactively, or some other method.
As this tax, similar to other provisions, was enacted unilaterally by the French administration anxious to improve their fisc, it is now shown to be disingenuous timing at the expense of multinationals which now have to pay this tax. Hopefully, other countries do not follow this lead in advance of the OECD DST proposals.