The OECD recently published its peer review report on treaty shopping re: prevention of treaty abuse under the inclusive framework on BEPS Action 6. A link to the document is included for reference.
Article 6 targeted treaty abuse; Action 15 introduced the multilateral instrument (MLI) to implement BEPS actions. The MLI is the mechanism whereby countries are implementing the treaty-shopping minimum standard.
The first Peer Review shows the effectiveness of implementing the minimum standard for treaty abuse. The intent of Action 6 is to stop treaty shopping in its entirety.
The treaty shopping minimum standard requires countries to include two components in their tax agreements; an express statement on non-taxation and one of three ways to address treaty-shopping. The provisions require bilateral agreement. The 2017 OECD Model Tax Convention includes the following express statement: “Intending to conclude a Convention for the elimination of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and on capital without creating opportunities for non-taxation or reduced taxation through tax evasion or avoidance…”
The three methods of addressing treaty shopping include;
- Principal Purpose Test (PPT) alone, or
- PPT with a simplified or detailed version of the Limitation on Benefits (LOB) rule, or
- Detailed LOB rule with a mechanism to deal with conduit arrangements.
As the MLI’s are agreed, it is important to understand the three methods above, and the express statement which includes reference to the elimination of double taxation, a concept which is sometimes ignored in the pursuit of perceived treaty / tax abuse.
The OECD published the final report on revised guidance to apply the transactional profit split method, as part of BEPS Action 10. This guidance provides the final text, based on comments received.
Additionally, OECD published final guidance for tax administrations for determining the proper approach to apply for hard-to-value intangibles. This text is included as an annex to Chapter VI of the Transfer Pricing Guidelines. This approach should promote consistency and, hopefully, minimize double taxation.
The text of these reports are provided for reference, as they are a must read for transfer pricing professionals.
EY’s Global Tax Alert details several important global developments worth watching:
- Phase 2 US tax reform – individual taxes, what else?
- OECD’s first peer review reporting on BEPS Action 13: TP Documentation and County-by-Country (CbC) reporting (attached herein for reference)
- EU Directive on cross-border reportable arrangements, reporting to commence in 2020 although effective date will be June/July 2018.
The reportable arrangements are a must read for international tax colleagues to understand the impact of arrangements planned for currently that may become a transparent arrangement to be reported in the EU.
The OECD CbC report is also helpful to understand the trend that CbC reports will generate ongoing, and the viewpoint of the countries that administer this process.
The OECD BEPS Actions, including CbC reporting, significantly impact international tax compliance burdens and challenges going forward. Additionally, US tax reform still has experts deliberating their practical application, notwithstanding future legislation.
The OECD is considering starting two new projects to revise the guidance in Chapter IV (administrative approaches) and Chapter VII (intra-group services) of the Transfer Pricing Guidelines.
OECD has issued scoping papers for public comments addressing transfer pricing disputes and intra-group services, provided for reference herein in addition to Deloitte’s Global TP Alert with insightful comments.
Comments on both subjects are due by June 20, 2018. Both topics are significant, thus a review of the scoping paper focus is recommended, with an opportunity to provide comments.
The latest US / OECD developments are detailed in the referenced EY Global Tax Alert, highlighting a potential second tax bill (apart from technical corrections), status on the “Blue Book: by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, Q&A IRS release re: Section 965 including how to pay the first estimate and report on the US federal income tax return, anti-corporate inversion regulations, and OECD’s Interim Report of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), titled “Tax Challenges Arising from Digitalisation.” Additionally, OECD released the third batch of peer reports – Certainly an exciting and challenging time!
There are still many areas of debate and room for reasonable interpretation on major aspects of the US Tax Act, especially as the 2018 provisions of BEAT, FDII and GILTI are not encased within the one-year measurement period of SAB 118. For companies subject to Q1 reporting, these uncertainties should be aligned with the auditor to avoid last-minute debates for material items.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK tax authority, has published revised guidance on the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) in its International Manual (INTM). DLA Piper’s detailed publication is referenced herein.
The revised guidance, together with the supplementary Statement of Practice, provides detailed information on the following:
- Eligibility for MAP
- Access to MAP
- Submitting a MAP request
- Time limits
- Protective MAP requests
- MAP and domestic relief
- Mutual agreement
- Methods of relief and
Multinationals ought to consider more proactive use of the improved MAP, taken together with similar developments in other countries around the BEPS minimum standards, as a viable compliance risk management tool. Although double taxation is often a precondition in transfer pricing cases that end up in MAP, it is important to note that all issues concerning taxation not in accordance with tax treaties are eligible for MAP.