The OECD recently published Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions, an inclusive framework on BEPS Actions 4, 8-10. This guidance takes into consideration comments received in the July 2018 discussion draft on financial transactions.
The guidance represent an update to the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines.
This importance guidance presents guidance for:
Determination if the purported loan should be regarded as a loan
Treasury functions, including cash pooling, intracompany loans and hedging
Risk-free and risk-adjusted rates of return
These principles are significant in scope and consequences that also allow countries to implement approaches in their domestic legislation, so there will be areas of dispute as this new guidance is implemented and interpreted.
The OECD has published its consultation document: Review of Country-by-Country Reporting (BEPS Action 13). Comments are requested no later than March 6th.
Chapter 1 contains general topics concerning the implementation and operation of BEPS Action 13, including the MNE group experience of CbC reporting implementation by jurisdictions, the use of CbC reports by tax administrations and other aspects of BEPS Action 13, being the master file and local file.
Chapter 2 contains topics concerning the scope of CbC reporting, including the definition of an MNE group, and the level and operation of consolidated group revenue threshold.
Chapter 3 contains topics concerning the content of a CbC report, including whether aggregate or consolidated information should be provided in Table 1, whether information in Table 1 should be presented by entity rather than by tax jurisdiction, and whether additional or different information is needed.
One key item in the report is in Section 12: Should Table 1 information be presented on an entity or jurisdictional basis? There are arguments pro and con, and this is an important item to monitor.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held a public consultation on the Secretariat Proposal for a “Unified Approach” under Pillar 1 of the BEPS 2.0 project on 21-22 November 2019 in Paris at the OECD Conference Centre.
The OECD Secretariat laid out the timeline for meetings of the Inclusive Framework for the end of January 2020 and in June/July 2020, and suggested that, at a minimum, a high-level political agreement on the Pillar One framework must be achieved by the January meeting.
One commonality voiced at the meeting was that the existing global transfer pricing system, based on the arm’s-length principle, needs to be changed and should at least be augmented by some more formulaic rules.
This common voice is expressed in terms of Pillar One re: digital tax, although this concept has also been trending for international tax in general. It will be interesting to watch this development as the meetings address Pillar Two and a global minimum tax.
Videos of the meeting and other details can be referenced in the EY Global Tax Alert.
The OECD has released a public consultation document on Global Anti-Base Erosion (GloBE), providing novel new rules to address a global minimum tax structure. Comments are due by 02 December 2019, which will assist members of the Inclusive Framework in the development of a solution for its final report to the G20 in 2020.
Comments are requested specifically in three areas: (i) use of financial accounts for tax tax base/timing differences, (ii) combining high-tax and low-tax income, and (iii) carve-out and threshold mechanisms.
The document is well worthy to read, as it shows the new direction (worldwide minimum tax), although the EU and others are yet to be completely convinced.
As the OECD ventures forth in digital transactions and global minimum tax standards, it is always helpful to keep in mind the UN Practical TP Manual for Developing Countries, which adheres to the arm’s-length principle. Links to the Manual and the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters are provided for reference.
In April 2019, a new chapter was added on Financial Transactions, Profit Splits and revised text on establishing Transfer Pricing Capability, Risk Assessment and Transfer Pricing Audits.
Attachment A: the proposed new Chapter B on Financial Transactions. The draft discusses the importance of corporate financing decisions within multinational groups and how those decisions could lead to tax base erosion. The Chapter discusses interaction with rules and measures against base erosion; common types of intra- group financial transactions and of group financing departments; the process of actual delineation and relevant characteristics of financial transactions; the process and system of credit rating; potential transfer pricing methods, including the use of simplification measures/safe harbours; different types of intra group loans and relevant characteristics; determining the arm’s length nature of intra-group loans; different types of intra group financial guarantees and relevant characteristics; determining the arm’s length nature of intra-group financial guarantees; and available methods. The chapter also discusses cash pooling practices and captive insurance, without getting into further detail on the delineation and arm’s length pricing of those specific transactions. Different types of intra-group loans are mentioned, and the draft identifies four steps to determine the arm’s length nature of intra-group loans: (i) analyse economically relevant characteristics; (ii) accurately delineate the entire transaction undertaken as well as (iii) selection and (iv) application, of the most appropriate transfer pricing method.
Attachment B: Revision to the guidance contained in the Manual on the transactional profit-split method (Chapter B.3.3.) with the main focus being on seeking consistency of this guidance with the work done in the context of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS, while providing more practical examples.
Attachment C: A progress draft of the work on sections C.2. Establishing Transfer Pricing Capability in Developing Countries (previously C.5.); C.4. Risk Assessment (Previously part of C.3.) and C.5. Transfer Pricing Audits. The purpose is mainly to streamline the sequences of presentation and to eliminate overlaps in the current text.
As tax treaties become more important in the international tax landscape, for both developed and developing countries, it is important to review practical guidance provided to tax administrations to enforce such treaties. This is a valuable primer for those involved in tax treaty interpretation and negotiation. The recently released Manual is provided as a reference link.
The present publication, entitled United Nations Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries (the Manual), aims at strengthening the technical expertise of developing countries’ tax officials as regards the negotiation of tax treaties.
It provides practical guidance to treaty negotiators in developing countries, in particular those who use the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries (the UN Model).
This Manual constitutes an introductory guide to tax treaty negotiations and, as such, provides general explanations on the way treaty negotiations are conducted and on the issues that are typically addressed during these negotiations. While it seeks to identify important issues that treaty negotiators should be aware of, it does not attempt to provide an exhaustive analysis of these issues. When preparing for treaty negotiations, the user of this Manual will therefore often need to go beyond the explanations provided in these pages and to further research the issues that are identified therein. keeping in mind that the detailed Commentaries on the provisions of the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries and of the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital constitute the most authoritative source of information on the interpretation of these provisions.
Monumental progress was recently made, in the form of 4 treaty protocols being approved; Luxembourg, Switzerland, Japan and Spain. This will hopefully start a natural progression towards prompt treaty approvals/ratifications.
Additional Section 965, transition tax, FAQ’s were issued. As you may recall, there was an infamous FAQ issued 13 April, 2018, whereby all overpayments from 2017 were deemed to be credited in their entirety to the 8 years, if elected, of transition tax liability. This important issue is still being contested, and am hopeful that HR 2985 calling for its proper reversal (i.e. IRS was wrong) will attract additional cosponsors and be an integral component of a tax technical corrections package that will be passed this year.
The 2019 United Nations (UN) tax treaty negotiation manual, attached for reference, was updated to reflect changes in the 2017 UN Model Treaty to include changes that resulted from the OECD’s base erosion and profit-shifting project.
Transfer pricing: IRS officials noted that completing the advance pricing and mutual agreement program’s (APMA’s) functional cost diagnostic model (FCDM) is a detailed process and taxpayers may want to submit the model form only in complex cases.
EY’s Global Tax Alert contains additional details, provided as reference.
EY’s Global Tax Alert highlights the recent BEPS developments, including the country-specific Multilateral Instruments (MLIs) with varying changes to its covered treaties and other treaty provisions.
It is noteworthy, at these MLIs approach legislation targets, that it is no longer intuitive as to how a country’s treaty provisions interact with other treaty partners, apart from general guiding principles that will vary as to the relevant details therein.
UN developments; In June 2019, the Report on the Eighteenth Session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (Committee), which was held by the United Nations (UN) on 23-26 April 2019 in New York, was released. The report describes a number of substantive issues related to tax cooperation in tax matters that were discussed during the session. Among others, the session addressed: (i) the next update of the UN Model Double Taxation Convention between developed and developing countries; (ii) the update of the UN Transfer Pricing (TP) Manual; (iii) dispute avoidance and resolution; and (iv) tax consequences of the digitalized economy.
African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF): In June 2019, the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) issued a paper on “The Place Of Africa In The Shift Towards Global Tax Governance: Can the taxation of the digitalised economy be an opportunity for more inclusiveness?” (the paper). The paper provides an overview of the current international tax governance landscape and inroads towards inclusiveness.
Country updates: Austria, Russia, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, Guernsey, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, China, Italy, Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, and Zimbabwe.
This 2017 edition of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines incorporates the substantial revisions made in 2016 to reflect the clarifications and revisions agreed in the 2015 BEPS Reports on Actions 8-10 Aligning Transfer pricing Outcomes with Value Creation and on Action 13 Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting. It also includes the revised guidance on safe harbours approved in 2013 which recognises that properly designed safe harbours can help to relieve some compliance burdens and provide taxpayers with greater certainty.
A link to the Guidelines is attached for reference.
The UN Transfer Pricing Subcommittee has provided a work designed to move forward its guidance in updating the UN Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries. The paper provides three attachments addressing:
Financial Transactions, a new chapter
Profit Splits, revised text
Establishing Transfer Pricing Capability, Risk Assessment and Transfer Pricing Audits, revised text
All three attachments are significant and timely issues, noting the EU and other countries similar emphasis on these topics.
The paper is a valuable read in understanding UN’s direction on the above issues, and is included as a referenced link.
Under the mandate of the Report on Actions 8-10 of the BEPS Action Plan (“Aligning Transfer Pricing Outcomes with Value Creation”), Working Party No. 6 (“WP6”) has produced a non-consensus discussion draft on financial transactions.
Comments are due by September 7, 2018. The treasury function, guarantees, intra-group loans, cash pooling transactions and captive insurance are the broad agendas discussed.
The guidance is not intended to prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under domestic legislation, nor does it seek to mandate accurate delineation under Chapter I as the only approach for determining whether purported debt should be respected as debt.
As this guidance is critical for establishing if an instrument is true debt, as well as transfer pricing implications for financial relationships, this discussion draft is critical to review and provide relevant comments.
The OECD’s discussion draft is referenced herein for review.
On 22 June 2017, the “Platform for Collaboration on Tax” (the Platform) – a joint effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) – released a toolkit (the Toolkit) designed to help developing countries address the lack of “comparables” for transfer pricing analyses and better understand mineral product pricing practices.
This Toolkit should also be reviewed by multinationals (MNEs) in developing countries to address the potential lack of comparables to better understand how the tax authorities will approach a transfer pricing audit. The mining supplement is required reading for those working in that industry.
Additional toolkits will be forthcoming:
Indirect transfer of assets
Base eroding payments
Tax treaty negotiation capacity
Supply chain management
BEPS risk assessment
As the first edition of the Toolkit has now been published, it will be interesting to watch developing countries apply the tools prescribed, providing a baseline going forward. All international tax practitioners should be familiar with this latest joint endeavor, as it is an indication of the shared resource approach that is now our future.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details, and the OECD Toolkit are referenced for review.
The UN has published the second edition (First edition in 2013) of a transfer pricing manual for developing countries.
The world has changed considerably since 2013, notably affected by BEPS and the OECD’s actions, including collaborating with developing countries. However, the UN notes developing countries may not have the sophistication as other developed countries, and this manual provides valuable insight into the trends in this area.
The transfer pricing practices of Mexico, China and Brazil are also summarized in this edition.
The TP Manual is a “must read” for international tax practitioners to fully understand today’s complex dynamics that do not lead to global consistency or simplification.
EY’s Global Tax Alert, referenced herein, provides a summary of the latest US international tax developments, including the exchange of BEPS related information.
US recently finalized two model competent authority agreements that will be used for exchanging country-by-country (CbC) reports. One model will apply to information exchanged under US tax treaties, the other will be used with US tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs). A tax treaty or TIEA serves as the legal basis for the exchange of tax information in the CbC reports.
Most importantly, the US has two requirements for countries exchanging CbC reports under OECD’s Action 13: (1) a legal instrument authorizing the exchange, and (2) adequate data security. With respect to the security prerequisite, this presents uncertainty as to which countries are not considered to have the requisite security. However, will this “list” be communicated in advance so MNE’s are in compliance with that country’s laws requiring the submission of CbC data? This should be a forethought, rather than an afterthought, to the process.