Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Archive for the ‘Tax Risk Management’ Category

US int’l developments

EY’s Global Tax Alert highlights several postulates for potential US tax reform, in which both the House and Senate are busily writing new language this month to push this reform effort by President Trump.

The OECD’s additional guidance on Country-by-Country reporting is also reiterated, and the short-term extension for the US debt limit is provided to further the tax reform process.

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Report_on_recent_US_international_tax_developments_-_8_September_2017/$FILE/2017G_05086-171Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%208%20September%202017.pdf

Danish PE: Intercompany contract risk

As countries become creative re: permanent establishment (PE) taxation, this scenario presented by the EY Global Tax Alert reminds all tax practitioners to be cognizant of what intercompany provisions are provided.

The Danish Tax Board referred to the contract between the Austrian company and the Danish company, according to which the Danish company would make offices and storage facilities available to the Austrian company. The Danish Tax Board was informed that the premises would be used by the subcontractor only. The Danish Tax Board ruled that according to the wording of the contract between the Austrian company and the Danish company, the Austrian company would have a place of business in Denmark at its disposal regardless of the fact that the services would be outsourced to a subcontractor.

Thus, providing for a storage closet (in literal terms) may impose PE liability, with the ensuing compliance and fees a significant factor for what was probably an inadvertent error by the drafters of the intercompany agreement.

The treaty had the same PE provisions as OECD’s Article 5 language, although noting that the OECD’s recommendations were looked to by the tax administration.

As a Best Practice, all intercompany agreements (anywhere in the world) need to be reviewed by an international tax practitioner prior to execution, whether in-house personnel or outside advisors.  

EY’s Alert provides additional details that should be reviewed to indicate the pervasiveness of the new PE rules, and the aggressiveness of tax administrations to literally interpret intercompany agreements.

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Danish_Tax_Authority_rules_subcontracting_of_services_by_foreign_company_to_non-related_foreign_entity_creates_a_permanent_establishment_in_Denmark/$FILE/2017G_04863-171Gbl_Danish%20Tax%20Authority%20ruling%20on%20creation%20of%20permanent%20establishment.pdf

US tax reform: Tax accounting impact

As the time for US seems to tick ever closer, EY’s Global Tax Alert highlights the tax accounting implications that would take effect on the “enactment date.”

Key items for consideration:

  • Tax attributes re: one-time repatriation/taxation of foreign earnings
  • Capital expensing impact
  • State tax impact, dependent on if they automatically follow federal tax law
  • APB 23, how will this be affected?

Although such items are hypothetical at the moment, some items may require additional planning to have the data available for the requisite disclosures.  Thus, the time for planning and consideration is the present.

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/US_Administration_releases_Joint_Statement_on_Reform_-_Income_Tax_accounting_considerations_related_to_potential_future_US_tax_legislation_and_steps_companies_can_take_now_to_prepare/$FILE/2017G_04560-172Gbl_US%20joint%20statement%20on%20tax%20reform.pdf

Tax raids: Are they necessary / Are you ready?

With the introduction of BEPS Action Items, recently followed by the subjective assent procedures of the Multilateral Instrument, it seems that the aggressiveness of tax administrations to apply current tax laws, and BEPS Actions yet to be enacted, is on the increase.  One result of such actions is the continuation, in certain jurisdictions, of tax raids which are unannounced, intense and producing immediate distrust between the parties.

For tax administrations, the question is “Does the necessity of such raids still exist?” and if so, they should be delegated to those that are egregious and potentially criminal in nature after the refusal of the taxpayer to legally comply with prior requests and inquiries.

For MNE’s, a tax raid causes immediate panic at the Business Unit, thus at least one legal or tax contact regionally and globally should be available at any time to address a phone call on necessary action steps that day and going forward.  This communication protocol should be common knowledge throughout the global organization to ensure alignment and appropriate steps are immediately taken if a tax raid were to occur.

It is hopeful these circumstances will become less frequent around the world, although learnings can be taken from past experiences to form Best Practices for the future.

UK: EU (Withdrawal) Bill

The UK EU exit bill has been introduced in Parliament, paving the way for suggested interpretations of:

  • Existing EU law
  • Loss of EU Directives
  • New customs regime
  • Transitional EU VAT case law
  • Social security contributions/benefits
  • Corporation tax impact of UK vs. EU law/Directives
  • Employee mobility
  • Employment law

This document portrays a glimpse into the thoughts behind the complex and myriad evolutions that will take place with the Brexit negotiations.  Tax, supply chains, individual changes, VAT, etc. and related unknown implications are still to be discovered; the EY Global Tax Alert provides a primer into the brave new world of a country exiting the EU.  Note, this is also a valuable reference for other countries considering this option.

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/UK_Government_introduces_European_Union_(Withdrawal)_Bill/$FILE/2017G_04283-171Gbl_UK%20Government%20introduces%20European%20Union%20Withdrawal%20Bill.pdf

Intermediary transparency: EU’s wish list

The European Commission has proposed a new Directive calling for additional transparency into cross-border arrangements.  Initially, this proposal has the liability for such reporting borne by the advisor, however it may apparently be also transferred to the taxpayer.  The effective date would be 1//1/2019 with recurring reporting by the EU Member States on a quarterly basis thereafter.

In a common theme when the “transparency’ envelope is opened, the relevant basket of potential transactions is widened from the most aggressive to ordinary tax-planning transactions.  Hopefully, if the Directive is adopted, the Member States will use discretion and ask questions about such transactions prior to drawing intuitive conclusions  and assessing taxpayers before having all facts and transactional history for consideration.

The potential transactions include arrangements:

  • To which a confidentiality clause is attached
  • Where the fee is fixed by reference to the amount of the tax advantage derived or whether a tax advantage is actually derived
  • That involve standardized documentation which does not need to be tailored for implementation
  • Which use losses to reduce tax liability
  • Which convert income into capital or other categories of revenue which are taxed at a lower level
  • Which include circular transactions resulting in the round-tripping of funds
  • Which include deductible cross-border payments which are, for a list of reasons, not fully taxable where received (e.g., recipient is not resident anywhere, zero or low tax rate, full or partial tax exemption, preferential tax regime, hybrid mismatch)
  • Where the same asset is subject to depreciation in more than one jurisdiction
  • Where more than one taxpayer can claim relief from double taxation in respect of the same item of income in different jurisdictions
  • Where there is a transfer of assets with a material difference in the amount treated as payable in consideration for those assets in the jurisdictions involved
  • Which circumvent EU legislation or arrangements on the automatic exchange of information (e.g., by using jurisdictions outside exchange of information arrangements, or types of income or entities not subject to exchange of information)
  • Which do not conform to the “arms’ length principle” or to OECD transfer pricing guidelines
  • Which fall within the scope of the automatic exchange of information on advance cross-border rulings but which are not reported or exchanged

The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament for consideration; this additional layer of transparent information will also be viewed by other countries as potential tools to uncover similar arrangements.  Several “arrangements” are also highly subjective, leading to additional transfer pricing disputes and increased double taxation.

EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details for this important proposal:

http://www.ey.com/gl/en/services/tax/international-tax/alert–european-commission-proposes-new-transparency-rules-for-intermediaries

UK election: Finance Act changes?

The recent election, resulting in the Conservative Party losing a majority, introduces additional uncertainty into the Brexit process and also affects the Finance Act.

What will happen to the tabled Finance Act proposals that were deleted by the fast-track changes in the last amendment?  Additionally, what will be the effective dates, if they are formally introduced at a later date, April 2017, upon introduction or possible extending into 2018 or not at all based on the political uncertainty.

The normally routine Finance Act process, with no amendments and straightforward measures that can be planned for upon announcement, is no longer true.  At this moment, the tabled measures should not be considered probable to happen due to the new political nightmare that was self-created although not envisioned.

It is hopeful the UK Parliament will stabilize this process going forward, although in the near future there is no definitive certainty.

EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details:

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/The_UK_election_and_its_implications_for_Finance_Act_measures_and_tax_proposals/$FILE/2017G_03722-171Gbl_UK%20election%20and%20its%20implications%20for%20Finance%20Act%20measures%20and%20tax%20proposals.pdf

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