Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Posts tagged ‘best practices’

S. Africa’s “reportable arrangements”- BEPS incentivized contemporaneous reporting

KPMG’s summary provides details for contemporaneous reporting (i.e. within 45 business days) of “reportable arrangements” that include acquiring a controlling interest in a company with loss attributes, hybrid debt/equity instruments, contributions to/beneficial interests in foreign trusts, and certain arrangements with foreign insurers.

The hybrid debt/equity arrangements are aimed at tackling BEPS substance vs. form transactions, although this unilateral guidance precedes final OECD guidelines and thereby represents an additional reporting requirement for such instruments, notwithstanding potential taxation of  related dividends or denial of deductions for related interest.

The public notice also provides for “excluded arrangements” where the aggregate tax benefit does not exceed R5M, although the exclusion for transactions where a tax benefit was not the main, or one of the main, purposes of the arrangement appears to have been removed from this new legislation.

http://www.kpmg.com/ZA/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Tax-and-Legal-Publications/Pages/Reportable-Arrangements-Amended.aspx

This new “contemporaneous” guidance provides a very small window for reporting “reportable arrangements” to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).  Accordingly, a review of current and prospective arrangements in S. Africa should provide for timely reporting governance guidelines.

ICC Policy Statement TP/Customs (2015)

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released the 2015 update of its policy statement on “Transfer Pricing and Customs Valuation” first issued in 2012 jointly prepared by the ICC Commission on Taxation and the Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation. The statement supports companies that face the challenge of determining the appropriate related party valuation of goods in the context of disparity between governments’ customs and fiscal policies.

 
The proposals put forward in the statement are designed to help simplify regulations for companies and administrations and also to clarify rules for both parties so as to reduce the negative financial impact linked to divergent valuation. The compliance costs of companies would be significantly reduced if tax and customs administrations were to accept and implement ICC’s proposals that would contribute to a more coherent approach to cross-border trade. These policies would also minimise the risk of penalties that result from opposing views between customs and tax authorities.

 
In February 2015 the policy statement has been offered to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Within the context of the G20 mandated OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) taxation project. The OECD is working on a revision of its transfer pricing guidelines and the ICC Statement will be helpful in this regard.
Furthermore, the policy statement will be included by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in the WCO’s Revenue Package, which provides guidance (tools and guidelines) to customs administrations around the world on their revenue collection. The WCO Revenue Package will be released in spring 2015.

http://www.iccwbo.org/Advocacy-Codes-and-Rules/Document-centre/2015/ICC-Policy-Statement-Transfer-Pricing-and-Customs-Valuation-(2015)/

Best Practice observations: Customs is playing a larger role in today’s environment of tax transparency, although there continues to be a disparity between customs adjustments and transfer pricing determination.  It is hopeful this welcome update will introduce simplicity and transparency while avoiding the “one-sided” effect of adjusting customs or transfer pricing going forward.

Additionally, timing is also critical to review the MNE functional oversight of customs and transfer pricing, ensuring they operate seamlessly and in tandem as the international tax arena becomes more complex.

Spain’s legislation progresses re: CbC reporting & TP documentation

EY’s Global Alert highlights the draft Spanish regulations that would introduce Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting, effective 1/1/2016.

  • Best Practice Observations: The text in bold represents verbiage that should be closely followed, as it may have global implications for flexibility required in CbC reports filed for different jurisdictions.  It is hopeful that the final regulations will entertain additional simplicity and global consistency.  
    • Initially, the test for reporting groups is literally subjective as to “similar terms” of CbC reporting for other jurisdictions.  For example, is reporting in one currency (i.e. US GAAP) equivalent to meeting this test?  What differences, if any, will be acceptable for this determination?  
    • Additionally, the requirement for reporting information in the currency of each jurisdiction implies that a different, or supplementary, approach may be needed for CbC reporting.  To the extent that the OECD final Guidelines are not deemed to be acceptable for Spanish tax authorities, this unilateral “bottoms up” approach will be problematic, complex and costly for everyone.    

Executive summary
On 18 March 2015, the Spanish Government released the draft bill of the new Spanish Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Regulations which complement the provisions included in the new Spanish CIT Law1 that entered into force on 1 January 2015. The CIT Regulations are expected to be adopted in the first half of 2015 and enter into force on 1 January 2016.

This Alert summarizes the new country-by-country (CbC) reporting obligations and the amendments to the transfer pricing rules.

Detailed discussion
On 1 January 2015, a new Spanish Corporate Income Tax Law entered into force (special attention must be drawn to transitory regimes) introducing amendments that are in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project.

In line with these amendments, changes to the CbC reporting obligations and current transfer pricing documentation requirements have been included in the first draft of the Spanish CIT Regulations. These rules, as currently drafted, are aligned with Action 13 of the OECD’s BEPS Project which aims to develop rules regarding transfer pricing documentation to enhance transparency for tax authorities. In particular, the proposed rules generally follow the approach included in the document issued on 6 February 2015 by the OECD named Action 13: Guidance on the Implementation of Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting (the Guidance).2

Among other changes, the Draft Regulations also address the possibility of using measures of central tendency to determine the point in the range that satisfies the arm’s length principle to minimize the risk of errors derived from comparability defects, as envisaged by OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines (paragraphs 3.57 and 3.62).

CbC reporting obligations
The proposed CbC reporting obligations would generally apply to Spanish tax resident entities which are “head” of a group (as defined under the Spanish transfer pricing rules), and are not at the same time dependent of any other entity, to the extent the consolidated group’s revenue in the immediately preceding fiscal year exceeds €750 million.

The rules would also apply to Spanish entities and permanent establishments which are, directly or indirectly, held by a non-Spanish resident head entity which is tax resident in a country which (i) has not established CbC reporting obligations in similar terms to Spain; or (ii) has not signed an automatic exchange of information agreement with Spain in relation to these obligations. The wording of the regulations is not clear on how this new rule would apply in practice.

The draft rules establish that the CbC report will have to include the following information per country on an aggregate basis:

a) Group’s revenue, distinguishing between that derived from related and unrelated parties

b) Accounting result before CIT or a tax of similar or analogous nature

c) CIT (or tax of similar or analogous nature) effectively paid, including withholding taxes

d) CIT (or tax of similar or analogous nature) accrued, including withholding taxes

e) Share capital and equity at the end of the fiscal year

f) Average number of employees

g) Tangible assets and real-estate investments, different to treasury and receivables

h) List of resident entities, including permanent establishments, and the main activities these are engaged in

i) Other information that is considered relevant and, if applicable, an explanation on the data included in such information

The information to be provided in the CbC report should be denominated in the local currency of each jurisdiction.

According to the draft of the CIT Regulations, CbC reporting obligations will need to be complied with for fiscal years beginning on or after 1 January 2016; reporting must be completed within a 12 month period from the close of the fiscal year to which the CbC report relates (i.e., companies with a fiscal year ending on 31 December 2016, would be required to file the CbC report by 31 December 2017). A specific tax form will be published by the tax authorities for these purposes.

Transfer pricing documentation requirements
The transfer pricing documentation requirements are modified in very similar terms to the revised standards included in the report on Action 13 released by the OECD on 16 September 2014,3 as follows:

Master file: The data to be included in the Master file is significantly increased to include detailed information on the organizational structure of the group, its business activities, intangibles, Intercompany financial activities, as well as the financial and tax situation of the group (including information on any Advance Pricing Agreement and other tax rulings the group may have obtained.
Entities belonging to groups with an aggregate net turnover lower than €45 million in the preceding year would be exempt from the preparation of the master file.

Local file: Similarly, the information to be included in the Local file is also increased requesting detailed information relating to specific material intercompany transactions.
A simplified local file is foreseen for entities belonging to groups with an aggregate net turnover lower than €45 million in the preceding year. Moreover, small and medium size entities (net turnover lower than €10 million) would be deemed to comply with the local file requirement by filling out a specific form that will be issued by the tax authorities. Information on certain specific transactions will not be excluded (certain business activities carried out by individuals, transfers of businesses and participation in entities, as well as transactions related to real estate property or intangibles).

Impact
The legislative evolution of this proposed measure will be closely monitored and covered in future Tax Alerts but multinational groups with a presence in Spain should focus on the actions that may be necessary to ensure their ability to produce the required information, including preparing protocols for gathering the information and developing internal processes and responsibilities with regard to the new reporting obligations.

Endnotes
1. Law 27/2014 on Corporate Income Tax published in the Spanish Official Gazette on 28 November 2014.

2. See EY Global Tax Alert, OECD issues implementation guidelines for country-by-country reporting under BEPS Action 13, dated 9 February 2015.

3. See EY Global Tax Alert, OECD releases report under BEPS Action 13 on Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting, dated 23 September 2015.

BEPS Timing: Mismatch

The Dec. 2016 completion date for BEPS Action 15, Multilateral Instrument (refer to 11 Feb. post) and the completion of the remaining 15 Actions by the end of 2015 is a clear mismatch between issuance of guidelines and an efficient process for implementation.

The multilateral instrument is not projected to be available until the end of 2016, with subsequent enactment by countries in 2017, 2018 or later years.  As a result, countries will need infinite patience to wait for final guidelines, and the corresponding multilateral instrument, without enacting unilateral legislation that may be non-conforming and subject to different interpretations.  Therefore, the result will be increased complexity with more diversity in transfer pricing practices, different interpretations of the arm’s length principle and additional risks of double taxation.

As the pace of BEPS enactment and increased interest by all parties accelerates, it is hopeful that countries will be coordinated in this game of patience to address a new era of transfer pricing interpretation and documentation.  MNE’s should therefore prepare for maximum flexibility to anticipate this divergence.

OECD’s BEPS progress with developing countries

The OECD has participated in recent regional meetings in Eurasia and Latin America, among others, following through on its plan to assist developing countries with the BEPS initiative.  The OECD publication entitled “The BEPS Project and Developing Countries: From Consultation to Participation” and a summary of the Latin America meeting are provided for reference.

Click to access strategy-deepening-developing-country-engagement.pdf

Click to access beps-regional-network-lac-co-chairs-summary-of-discussions.pdf

Observations:

The summary of the regional meetings highlights important trends, indicating alignment and future deviations from the new OECD guidelines.

The Latin America summary observes the region does not approve of unilateral legislation for the interest initiative, noting individual countries should wait for final guidelines to ensure alignment.

In contrast, the region expressed concerns of their administrative capacity to implement the automatic exchange of information procedures.  However, the countries also expressed a desire to access country-by-country reports, assess whether such information is satisfactory, and evaluate the proposed filing threshold for regional MNE groups.  These statements indicate a potential shift from the new guidelines to possibly implement standards that are region specific, and thereby non-conforming with the BEPS guidelines.  

Accordingly, MNE’s should follow these meetings closely to provide flexibility for future BEPS compliance that will be more complex than it now appears.  

African Tax Research Network 1st Annual Congress, Call for Papers

The African Tax Research Network (ATRN) requests research papers for its 1st Annual Congress entitled Contemporary Tax Challenges for African Countries.  A link to the conference details is provided for reference;

http://www.123contactform.com/form-1143642/AFRICAN-TAX-RESEARCH-NETWORK-ATRN-CALL-FOR-PAPERS

The African Tax Research Network (ATRN) is a newly established platform for African inspired dialogue, research and collaboration mainly among researchers, policy makers and tax administrators. Its establishment results from the need to identify potential synergies and linkages, in areas of research, between academics, policymakers, researchers and tax officials from the African Tax Administration Forum’s (ATAF) member countries. Launched in 2009, the African Tax Administration Forum is a platform to promote efficient, effective and service-oriented tax administrations and currently consists of 38 African member states. The ATRN, which is housed in the ATAF Secretariat in South Africa, is pleased to announce its 1st Annual Congress from 02 – 04 September 2015 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

This congress presents an opportunity for academics, researchers, tax administrators, students, tax practitioners, consultants and decision-makers on fiscal and tax policy to gather and discuss different aspects relating to national, regional and international tax matters.

The theme of the Annual Congress is “Contemporary Tax Challenges for African Countries”.
Prospective authors, both academics and practitioners, are invited to submit original and innovative papers on any topic related to this broad theme. Suggested topics of interest to be covered under the main theme include:
Natural resources taxation
Local taxation and fiscal decentralisation
International taxation
Customs & domestic taxation
Indirect taxation
Taxation in the digital economy
Tax treaties
Taxation in banking, telecommunication, insurance
Environmental tax
Taxation and regional integration
Tax compliance
Taxation & the distribution of income & wealth
Taxation and Human Rights (including taxation & gender)
Tax incentives

This conference is an excellent opportunity for interested parties to submit their ideas and presentations to form a win-win opportunity for taxpayers and tax administrations.  A collaborative relationship will enhance future efficiencies in this rapidly growing region.

Tax risk roadmap

EY’s extract highlights operational tax risks, Best Practices and a roadmap to implement opportunistic changes.

http://www.ey.com/CA/en/Services/Tax/TaxMatters-February2015-Eight-steps-to-handle-tax-risks

Highlights:

1. Establish and sustain effective tax policies

2. Enhance performance management

3. Organize globally

4. Recruit and retain the best people

5. Implement, monitor and constantly upgrade tax processes and controls

6. Improve data quality

7. Implement the right technology

8. Consider whether existing compliance and reporting capabilities meet today’s needs

Commencing with a global tax policy encompassing a comprehensive tax risk framework, BEPS induced changes are accelerating transparency initiatives and a risk-based focus.

Tax administrations are looking beyond details of data for a country-by-country reporting template for an overall risk assessment of all taxes and relevant processes.  A comprehensive risk framework and system of mitigation controls will also present win-win opportunities for co-operative compliance relationships and discussions of tax risk controls between the taxpayer and tax administration.

 

Indonesia: New MAP guidelines

The Indonesian Ministry of Finance has issued updated MAP guidelines, evidencing focus by the Indonesian Tax Office (ITO) on multilateral dispute resolution.  This regulation is the third MAP related guidance, with the inclusion of additional restrictions.  A link to KPMG’s Tax News Flash is provided for reference:

Click to access Tax-News-Flash-January-2015.pdf

Key summary:

  • The MAP process will be terminated when the Indonesian tax court “deems” that it has conducted sufficient hearings.
  • A tax audit for the MAP years may be conducted, without clarity if such audit is restricted to the MAP issues.
  • A concurrent Indonesian MAP request is required for a MAP request by another country’s tax authority.
  • MAP does not postpone the obligation to pay the tax, unlike domestic legislation.

Indonesia is uniquely interpreting the tax treaty to limit the opportunity for MAP appeals, while introducing additional subjectivity in the rules via vagaries of  the Indonesian tax court’s hearing process.  Most importantly, it will be important to consider the MAP process upon the commencement of an Indonesian audit due to ongoing uncertainties.  

Notably, this guidance is being issued prior to the finalization of the OECD dispute resolution guidelines that will most likely result in inconsistent guidelines for MAP.   

Asia: BEPS Review

Loyens & Loeff have published a clear and concise summary of several OECD BEPS deliverables, as well as summarizing the potential impacts of BEPS for each of the following countries:

  • China (PRC)
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

A link to the publication is provided for reference:

Click to access AsiaNewsletter-BEPS.pdf

This publication provides a concise summary addressing the topics of Characterization and position re: BEPS, BEPS related measures and an Outlook summary for each country.  The recent December 2014 BEPS drafts are not covered in this publication.

Best Practice observations:

MNE’s should be gathering a master file of the BEPS Action Items and status of each Item for each country in which it operates, as the timing of legislation will be different, including countries that have already enacted several Action Items.  Based upon this schedule, a strategic review of items affecting the Company can be developed, reviewed and implemented efficiently.  This schedule will also be a valuable dynamic tool for presentation to internal stakeholders that addresses the impact of BEPS.

The Davis Tax Committee: BEPS Report

The Davis Tax Committee has released its First Interim Report on Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS), including an introductory document and comprehensive analyses of the following BEPS Action Items:

  • 1, Digital Economy
  • 2, Hybrid Mismatches
  • 5, Harmful Tax Practices
  • 6, Treaty Abuse
  • 8, Transfer pricing re: intangibles
  • 13, Transfer pricing documentation
  • 15, Multilateral instrument
  • Summary of recommendations

The Committee’s objective is to assess South Africa’s tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability.  Links to the Media Statement, Davis Tax Committee’s website and Report are provided for reference:

Click to access 20141223%20Davis%20Tax%20Committee%20Media%20Statement%20-%20Release%20of%20BEPS%20Report%20for%20Public%20Comment.pdf

Comments by all interested parties should be submitted by 31 March 2015.

The documents are a valuable reference in comprehending each of the OECD BEPS Action Items of the Report, not only the viewpoint of S. Africa.  Most importantly, it outlines the tax policies for continued foreign direct investment balanced against BEPS and General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) initiatives, while providing tax transparency and certainty with a balanced, sustainable tax policy going forward.

Cooperative Compliance: Best Practices re: Global Mobility

Cooperative compliance is an initiative that is being used more regularly to further efforts by tax administrations for tax transparency.  (Refer to 13 June, 2013 post: OECD: A Framework for Co-operative Compliance)

The referenced PwC Tax Policy Bulletin highlights the use of this popular technique for Global Mobility compliance and Best Practices.  The Bulletin provides a primer for processes of global mobility compliance and integration of a cooperative compliance approach, including the relevant benefits and risks.

Click to access pwc-cooperative-compliance-global-mobility-tax-policy.pdf

Key observations:

  • Many countries have the potential to immediately negotiate an agreement to streamline mobile employee compliance.
  • There is an opportunity to minimize/control risks due to global talent shifts, short-term business travelers / assignees, targeted tax audits, administrative complexity, Permanent Establishment (PE) exposure, etc.
  • Tax control framework methodologies should be in place for review by tax authorities to review internal processes.
  • This initiative should be in synergy with the global / regional / country tax strategy for alignment.

This important initiative should be supported by tax expertise for the global mobility function via internal and/or external resources.  Accordingly, the impetus of tax transparency, complexity and corporate accountability may provide perfect timing to review the organizational structure of the global mobility function and inherent tax expertise provided, resulting in a Best Practice methodology as part of the global tax risk framework.

China GAAR: New rules

China’s State Administration of Taxation (SAT) has established rules for implementing its General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR), effective 1 February 2015.  A PwC summary and details of the rule, as translated into English, are attached for reference:

Click to access 635539923624544645_chinatax_news_dec2014_33.pdf

Click to access 635540044774352869_chinatax_news_dec2014_33_article.pdf

Note, as in most GAAR provisions, the definition is subjective in nature.  Additionally, these rules would be applied after the Specific Anti-Avoidance Rules (SAAR) are applied, resulting in a tiering of potential disallowance avenues.  However, the MAP rules could be employed to minimize double taxation consequences.

As the GAAR provisions are being enacted into domestic law, as well as treaties, in addition to existing rules for SAAR, these rules are critical for new arrangements / transactions, as well as preparing relevant documentation for future reference and defense.

 

 

APAC: BEPS Best Practices by tax administrations

The Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) met recently in Sydney, resulting in the creation of a new task force for the Asia-Pacific region to collaborate on OECD BEPS initiatives while enabling cooperation to develop cohesive tax systems in each jurisdiction.  A link to the Communique is attached for reference:

https://www.sgatar2014.org/media/communique

SGATAR 2014 brought together almost 200 delegates, including representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Inter-Amercian Center of Tax Administrations (CIAT), Asia-Oceania Tax Consultants’ Association (AOTCA), International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), OECD and the World Bank Group (WBG).

SGATAR members include the following jurisdictions: Australia, Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

Best Practice observations:

As each of these countries propose unilateral legislation, it should be closely monitored as it may well form a foundation of Best Practices  and SGATAR collaboration for the Asia-Pacific region.  A recent example of potential early guidance is Singapore’s transfer pricing documentation paper by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore; (refer to my earlier post of 31 October 2014).

The Asia-Pacific regional approach is worth watching to discern trends that may vary from the OECD BEPS Guidelines, forming additional complexities and different interpretations for international tax norms.

OECD: Best Practices for Tax administrations

OECD – Tax Administration 2013
This is a unique reference source of high level comparative information on aspects of tax administration system design and practice covering the world’s major revenue bodies. This edition updates performance-related and descriptive material contained in prior editions with new data and supplements this with new features including coverage of 3 additional countries (i.e. Brazil, Columbia, and Hong Kong (China). For the first time, this edition of the series includes comparative information on all 34 member countries of the OECD, the EU and, the G20, as well as certain other countries (e.g. Singapore and South Africa). New subject covered in this series include: 1) a description of how revenue bodies engage and support tax intermediaries. In addition, the series includes extensive description of organizational reforms underway in many countries to improve efficiency and effectiveness, for many in an environment where public sector funding is being significantly reduced.

http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/taxation/tax-administration-2013_9789264200814-en#page1

Summary of Topics:

  • Institutional arrangements for tax administrations
  • Organisation of revenue bodies
  • Strategic management
  • Human resource management and tax administration
  • Resources
  • Operational performance
  • Electronic services
  • Tax administration and tax intermediaries
  • Administrative frameworks
  • Various appendices

As the concept of co-operative compliance becomes more commonly practiced, this reference is a valuable contribution to form Best Practices for tax administrations.

Additionally, it is useful for MNE’s to review and gain a better understanding of the issues faced by tax administrations, with a proactive effort needed to form a win-win opportunity to achieve a fair and consistent international tax framework.

Bangladesh TP Reg’s 2014: Effective July 2014

Bangladesh has introduced new transfer pricing (TP) regulations, effective from July 2014.

Key observations:

  • Definition of: associated enterprise, international transaction and arm’s length methodologies
  • No APAs or safer harbor rules
  • Key documentation requirements include:
    • Business relationships between each member of the MNE group
    • Consolidated financial statements of the MNE group
    • Record of any financial estimates
    • De minims requirements for international transactions less than approx. USD 390,000
    • New statement of international transactions required in addition to the income statement
    • Chartered Accountant’s report
    • 1% of value TP penalties

These rules, similar to Singapore’s recent comments for its proposed update for TP legislation, request broad and complex documentation requirements for the MNE group.  Accordingly, all MNE’s need to modify global transfer pricing documentation methodologies in response to unilateral legislation of various countries.

Most importantly, the global TP requirements will require attendees in all future audits to be familiar with these global methodologies and information that the tax authorities will have had the chance to review.  

A Financial Express summary is included for reference:

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/06/17/39946

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