Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Posts tagged ‘diverted profits tax’

UK DPT: Round 2 review

HMRC is now reviewing diverted profit tax cases in round 2: citing the following EY’s link referenced herein:

There are already 100+ DPT cases ongoing and hundreds more “Large” and “Mid-Sized” cases will now be reviewed and enquiries launched in the next 12 to 18 months. Market intelligence suggests a particular focus on Mid-Sized cases, and on sectors including life sciences, oil and gas, and mining and metals. HMRC is also investigating a number of captive insurance arrangements within large groups.

As a reminder, DPT is aimed at groups that use what HMRC sees as contrived arrangements to circumvent rules on permanent establishment (PE) and transfer pricing. DPT is intended to address two broad situations:

  • A UK company (or UK PE of a foreign company) uses entities or transactions that lack economic substance to exploit tax mismatches to reduce effective taxation to below 80% of rate otherwise payable in the UK.
  • A person carries on activity in the UK in connection with the supply of goods, services or other property by a foreign company and that activity is designed to ensure that the foreign company does not create a PE in the UK.

 

Note, the UK DPT is not arguable on a tax treaty basis, and it is based on the concept of pay now, to be resolved later.  It was also enacted as a deterrent for taxpayers to start paying regular tax, vs. no tax, as a DPT was seen as an avenue to avoid the additional tax and controversy.  Thus, it is prudent to review any potential instances of DPT.  

Click to access 2018G_00778-181Gbl_UK%20TA%20begins%20second%20round%20of%20enquiries%20on%20Diverted%20Profits%20Tax.pdf

Australia’s DPT: License to tax

EY’s Global Tax Alert provides details on Australia’s new Diverted Profits Tax (DPT), effective in 2018 for calendar year taxpayers.

  • Penalty up to 40% can be assessed
  • Interaction with transfer pricing documentation and country-by-country (CbC) risk assessment
  • Diverted profits taxed at less than 24% are vulnerable
  • Proactive review of one’s documentation and risk assessment is recommended

Australia has patterned their DPT after the UK implemented a similar scheme, although posing some different characteristics.

As countries are reaching out to tax profits that are subject to a lower rate of tax elsewhere, this is providing a license to tax that cannot be ignored by multinationals with Australian operations.

Click to access 2017G_01485-171Gbl_Australia%20passes%20Diverted%20Profits%20Tax%20and%20Penalties%20law.pdf

BEPS update; no slowing down

The drive for additional transparency, among efforts by countries to implement anti-avoidance rules that trump tax treaties, continues with the latest round of BEPS updates, as EY’s Global Tax Alert provides added insight:

Click to access 2016G_00921-161Gbl_The%20Latest%20on%20BEPS%20–%209%20May%202016.pdf

Highlights:

  •  Australian Tax Office (ATO) release of 4 tax alerts for issues of concern, a Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) is to be implemented, hybrid mismatch arrangements will be addressed in legislation, and the effective date for the new/revised OECD’s arms-length principle standards will move forward to 1 July, 2016.
  • Ecuador: the most recently version, as of 1/1 of a taxpayer’s year, of the OECD’s Guidelines will be used as transfer pricing reference absent domestic rules.
  • Hungary: A “modified nexus” IP approach will come into force.
  • Netherlands: The innovation box rules will be amended to comply with OECD’s Action 5 guidelines.
  • New Zealand: Domestic anti-avoidance rules will trump double treaty arrangements.
  • Taiwan: CFC rules will be promulgated.  
  • Turkey: An “electronic place of business” draft legislation would empower taxation.
  • Ukraine: A working group is forming anti-BEPS measures for consideration.
  • US: Treasury is trying to extricate itself from its 1-year lag in obligatory country-by-country (CbC) reporting, although global acceptance is not expected.

The impact of BEPS is still accelerating, although the efforts by countries to avoid treaty provisions will provoke additional disputes and double taxation.  Accordingly, the veil of anti-BEPS legislative efforts overshadows mutual transparency and collecting a fair share of tax while avoiding double taxation.  Thus, all multinationals should be extra vigilant in the new era of international tax for additional documentation and support for significant transactions with low-tax countries.

Australia’s Diverted Profits Tax salvo

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has recently released a consultation paper re: implementation of a Diverted Profits Tax (DPT); comments are due by 17 June 2016.  Although Australia has taken a long look at the DPT in concert with UK’s quickly enacted provisions, it took a breather while the OECD urged restraint on a far-reaching “tax” that may go beyond the intent of the OECD’s Guidelines.  A link to the paper is provided for reference:

http://www.treasury.gov.au/~/media/Treasury/Consultations%20and%20Reviews/Consultations/2016/Implementing%20a%20diverted%20profits%20tax/Key%20Documents/PDF/Diverted-profits-tax_discussion-paper.ashx

The focus of the paper is summarized in the first sentence: “The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia.”

Highlights of the proposal:

  • 40% penalty tax (non-deductible) rate, not offset by another jurisdiction’s tax (30% tax rate if an amended tax return is filed)
  • Subjective determination (i.e. reasonable to conclude)
  • Will not operate on a self-assessment basis
  • Pay first, discuss later philosophy, copying UK’s direction (12-month review period and a right to appeal)
  • Effective for years commencing on or after 1 July, 2017
  • Flow chart appendix
  • Efective for transactions that have an effective tax mismatch test (objective test) and insufficient economic substance (subjective test)
  • Draft guidance will be developed in consultation with stakeholders.

All interested parties should review this consultation paper, and provide comments to the ATO for potential changes.  It is interesting to see that transactions failing the effective mismatch test will be left exclusively with subjective determinations for possible assessments by the ATO without the benefit of dual transparency.  Additionally, the philosophy of assess now and discuss later will not be a mechanism to effectively provide more trust by taxpayers as UK, Australia and other jurisdictions are creating unilateral laws to capture taxes payable on income in other jurisdictions, potentially without the right to access treaties, claim an offset in the other jurisdictions and have access to the full process of appeals prior to payment.  As a result, the incidence of double taxation will increase.

It is hopeful the ATO will consider the comments received, and include changes to the current proposal to enhance transparency and mutuality by all parties.

 

 

 

UK’s Large Business Compliance Consultation: TEI’s comments

Tax Executives Institute (TEI) has provided practical and insightful comments in response to UK’s Large Business Compliance Consultation by HMRC, which is far-reaching.  A link to TEI’s comments is provided for reference:

Click to access TEI-Comments-UK-Public-Consultation-Improving-Large%20Business-Tax-Compliance-FINAL-to-HMRC-14-October-2015.pdf

Key points:

  • The Consultation is focused on UK HQ companies, although the proposals also apply to non-UK based multinationals (MNE’s).
  • The underlying principle is unclear, especially for non-UK based MNE’s, and should be amended accordingly.
  • A separate UK tax strategy is an unrealistic expectation for most MNE’s, and will provide little relevance if enacted.
  • A UK Code of Practice is also unrealistic for MNE’s.
  • UK taxes, paid or accrued, generally bears little relevance to the global effective tax rate and is not relevant.
  • UK’s current tools of general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR), Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) tax framework, newly enacted Diverted Profits Tax, a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) and other anti-abuse rules are already in place and would seem to remedy HMRC’s concerns.
  • Special measures are subjective and not subject to a formal independent panel for review prior to execution.
  • Board-level accountability may not be practical, while the SAO framework may accommodate this proposal.
  • Signing, or not signing, the Code of Practice should not be a trigger for public disclosure or risk assessment.
  • The Code of Practice includes determinations that transactions meet the intent of Parliament, an inherently subjective test that may be applied at will regardless of the law.

The tax transparency see-saw has now tilted to a dangerous level, in that transparency objectives no longer seem to meet the needs of tax authorities.

Information is being requested to satisfy presumed needs of the public and tax administrations, although similar efforts are not being made to have discussions with taxpayers to better understand tax risk and the relevant functions, assets and risks for which transfer pricing should be based in the relevant jurisdiction.

The UK proposal, and similar initiatives, may indeed erode the trust for which the tax authorities are seeking.  It would be a novel concept to include the business community in discussions around these proposals prior to drafting, a welcome initiative that would better represent a win-win opportunity.  Additionally, all audits should begin with a formal understanding of the transfer pricing practices of the MNE in that jurisdiction to focus tax queries accordingly and efficiently.      

As the UK Diverted Profits Tax model has strayed from the OECD’s intent re: the BEPS Action Items, it has nonetheless been followed by other countries.  This proposal may have a similar result, magnifying the concern of MNE’s and merits a detailed review by all MNE’s irrespective of UK business presence.

UK Diverted Profits Tax: Australia/G20 – Who’s next?

UK and Australia have formed a joint working group to develop initiatives re: “diverted profits” by MNE’s.

A copy of the press release is attached for reference:

http://jbh.ministers.treasury.gov.au/media-release/030-2015/

The press release cites the urgency of such legislation, while also stating that such initiatives will be consistent with the OECD BEPS Actions.

The UK’s new tax still has more questions than answers, and it is hopeful that Australia and members of the G20 will await OECD’s final guidance on BEPS initiatives and align any new tax with comprehensive documentation prior to issuance.  Additionally, it will be interesting to note the trend away from citation of the well recognized arm’s length principle toward a concept of economic value and significant people functions.

UK Diverted Profits Tax: Accounting implications

The PwC summary, referenced herein, summarizes the UK Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) proposal.  Additionally, it highlights the effect upon the current year tax provision, including the relevant deferred tax adjustment that includes the date of enactment (26 March 2015).

Click to access pwc-financial-reporting-implications-new-uk-diverted-profits-tax.pdf

US GAAP / IFRS considerations:

  • Align with the auditor if the DPT qualifies as an “income tax” subject to US GAAP ASC 740 and IAS 12, Income Taxes under IFRS.
  • Determine if DPT is applicable (although such notification for DPT to HMRC is not due for six months).
  • Review adjustments for deferred taxes.
  • Calculate any effect for the current year effective tax rate.
  • Determine if tax reserves should be established.
  • Review footnote disclosures for DPT impact.
  • For new APAs, note that the DPT position will be considered first.  This will require extensive documentation for the DPT position as well as the APA submission.

As this controversial legislation was passed less than 30 days ago, there will be a time constraint for determination of the tax accounting impact since any DPT notification and preparation of extensive documentation relevant for HMRC review is now commencing.

Note the tax accounting considerations apply to any new tax legislation, thus the above considerations will apply for similar measures related to new income tax legislation, including BEPS proposals and possibly the Australian DPT equivalent.

BEPS Update / Australia’s DPT timing

EY’s Global Tax Alert of 13 April 2015 sets forth the latest summary of OECD BEPS developments, including the recent discussion drafts under BEPS Actions 3 and 12.

Additionally, the Alert also notes the copycat tactics of Australia re: the UK Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) that went into effect 1 April 2015.  More news on this development should be forthcoming  in the 2015-16 Australian Budget expected mid-May.

Click to access 2015G_CM5365_The%20Latest%20on%20BEPS%20-%2013%20April%202015.pdf

The recent BEPS discussion drafts, Action 3 re: CFC rules and Action 12 re: Aggressive tax planning arrangements, are of paramount importance for all MNE’s and tax administrations.

Australia’s tactics re: a UK DPT mechanism also highlights the controversial manner in which each jurisdiction is fighting for its fisc to the detriment of other tax administrations.  However, what is not transparent in the rules provided to date for the UK DPT is the intent to avoid double taxation.  It is hopeful that Australia will provide a balanced approach to this newfound mechanism for gaining tax revenues in a scheme that asks for full payment by a MNE prior to relevant appeals being filed and discussed.

UK Diverted Profits Tax (DPT): Start your engines

Clifford Chance has provided an excellent primer discerning the objectives, framework and challenges of the UK DPT that await MNE’s with a commencement date of 1 April, 2015.  The most recent guidelines were set forth in the latest UK Finance Bill, including a narrowing of the notification requirement while expanding the permanent establishment (PE) threshold.  A link to the summary and related PDF detail, as well as recently issued guidance from HMRC, are included for reference:

http://www.cliffordchance.com/briefings/2015/03/the_uk_diverted_profitstaxfinallegislatio.html

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/diverted-profits-tax-guidance/summary-of-amendments-following-the-technical-consultation

This new “tax” is controversial, although its tentacles have already spread to Australia and other countries for similar consideration and implementation.  Additionally, it is worth noting that the OECD is closely watching these actions, remembering the viral discussions that ensued after UK and Germany jointly endorsed the “substantial nexus” approach for intangibles.

MNE’s will need to understand this new initiative and design a course of action, starting with documentation of its actions directly / indirectly in the UK and deciding if it is beneficial, and how, to discuss such conclusions with HMRC.  Apart from potential double taxation, there are many uncertainties introduced by this legislation.

Only time will tell how aggressively HMRC will pursue this “tax,” especially with its commencement on the heels of an upcoming election for which politics and taxes are always intertwined.

UK Diverted Profits Tax: Conference notes

The UK Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) Conference on 13 January, sponsored by the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, was presented to a packed audience.  Attendees represented news agencies, advisors, tax executives as well as other countries, including Australia.

The speaker panel was inclusive of the following presenters that provided excellent thoughts for discussion:

  • Philip Baker QC, a barrister and QC practising from Field Court Tax Chambers.
  • Michael Devereux, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, Professor of Business Taxation and Professorial Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford.
  • Paul Morton, Head of Group Tax at Reed Elsevier Group plc.
  • Heather Self, Partner at Pinsent Masons.
  • Mike Williams, Director of Business and International Tax at HMRC.

A few statements from the panelists offer some background on this debatable issue:

Philip Baker: The DPT is a Targeted Anti-Avoidance Measure.

Michael Devereux: This may represent an overlay of economic substance over existing international tax rules, and there is a debatable point if the UK treatment should depend on the incidence of income / tax inclusion somewhere else.

Paul Morton: A very real, and complex, set of facts were presented showing that countries’ initiatives may result in a tax burden that exceeds 100% of the income without adequate recourse to avoid double taxation.

Heather Self: Practical aspects, from a MNE perspective, of the proposal were presented, supplemented by comments in her 19 December article of Tax Journal.  One of the conclusions in her article states: “This measure will make BEPS more difficult to achieve, and it risks a whole raft of unilateral measures being introduced by other countries.”

Mike Williams: The DPT proposal has alot of political commitment; it is consistent with EU law and treaty obligations; the UK is trying not to tax beyond its fair share of profits; loan exclusions probably do not go far enough and to combat aggressive tax planning, why wait another year.

Comments also addressed the aggressive effective date of April 2015, noting this timeline is in advance of the final OECD BEPS guidelines and there is very little time for reasoned comments and review between now and April.

This initiative has drawn the attention of many countries, anxious to examine the potential benefits it would add to their economy.  Accordingly, it is imperative to track this proposal, its effective date, implementation and a “Follow the Leader” approach in other jurisdictions.

UK Diverted Profits Tax: Parliamentary debate

The UK Diverted Profits Tax proposal (refer to 12 December 2014 post) will become effective in April, 2015.  The Parliament debate sheds light on the intentions for such tax, as well as the assumptions (true or false) underlying this initiative.

The debate clarifies that such “tax” is not meant to be a tax that meets the definition of a tax for double tax treaty purposes, therefore it is subject to domestic legislation and not overridden by its treaty network.  This rationale therefore leads to the premise that it may not qualify as a tax subject to a US Foreign Tax Credit, resulting in a double “tax” situation regardless of the nomenclature.  Additionally, the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) provided for in a double tax treaty would not be available for recourse.

The tax is aggressive in its timing, ahead of the final OECD proposals and in contrast to other initiatives for which the UK is awaiting final BEPS guidance.  The debate highlights the cynicism about the OECD process, thus providing a rationale for unilateral legislation sooner vs. later.  Additionally, this proposal was discussed as a Targeted Anti-Avoidance Rule (TAAR), which is in addition to the EU and UK General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR).

Most importantly, a diverted profit tax situation involves an initial recharacterization assessment by HMRC, requiring payment by the taxpayer, with appeals to follow later – a “Pay Now, Talk Later” approach.

The clock is ticking and time is winding down with alot of questions remaining unanswered.  The debate is provided for reference:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150107/halltext/150107h0001.htm

It is very useful to review the Intent of new laws to form a better understanding for the formation of such initiatives, as well as comprehension into the foresight of drafters re: possible appeals by the European Commission and/or European Court of Justice.

UK: Diverted Profits Tax & CbC reporting

HMRC is taking a unilateral proactive lead in devising measures based on OECD BEPS initiatives that introduce a diverted profits tax, as well as country by country (CbC) reporting for UK headquartered MNE’s.  A Tax Journal summary provides a summary of the diverted profits tax, which is linked herein, in addition to the HMRC source articles for application of the diverted profits tax and CbC reporting.

http://www.taxjournal.com/tj/articles/google-tax-sends-clear-message-multinationals-divert-profits-10122014

Click to access Diverted_Profits_Tax.pdf

Click to access TIIN_2150.pdf

Diverted Profits Tax:

This measure will introduce a new 25% tax (regular tax rate plus a punitive component) on diverted profits. The diverted profits tax will operate through two basic rules. The first rule counteracts arrangements by which foreign companies exploit the permanent establishment rules. The second rule prevents companies from creating tax advantages by using transactions or entities that lack economic substance.  The proposal will be effective as of 01 April 2015.

The main objective of the diverted profits tax is to counteract contrived arrangements used by large groups (typically multinational enterprises) that result in the erosion of the UK tax base.

CbC reporting:

The publication allows regulations to be issued re: CbC reporting for UK-based companies after the OECD publishes guidance on how the reports should be filed and how the information in them may be shared between relevant countries, and after a period of consultation in the UK.

After issuance of the hybrid mismatch rules (post of 7 December 2014) that patiently await the final OECD guidelines for consensus in its guidelines, the diverted profits tax mechanism will be in effect next year prior to final OECD guidelines and subject to other countries following a similar early unilateral lead as incentivized by the BEPS initiatives.

The CbC reporting is addressed at UK-based MNE’s, while presumably non-UK based MNE guidance for such reporting will be also be issued in the near future.

These initiatives may target legal mechanisms that the taxpayer will need to defend aggressively, while advancing preparation for timely compliance for CbC reporting.  Additionally, other countries may use this information via automatic exchange of information to assist in transfer pricing risk assessment.  The initiatives should be reviewed in detail to better understand the rules, and trends, for these proposals.

OECD BEPS: EY update

EY’s recent tax alert highlights the recent developments and trends of the OECD BEPS initiatives:

OECD
The OECD has announced another in its series of webcasts providing updates on developments with respect to the BEPS project. The webcast is scheduled for 15 December 2014 and will feature senior members of the OECD secretariat.

Asia-Pacific region
On 24-27 November 2014, the creation of a new task force was announced at a meeting of the Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) in Sydney. The task force is to be made up of SGATAR members and be designed to, among other things, enable the Asia-Pacific region to discuss and to keep abreast of international developments and issues including base erosion, profit shifting, and tax transparency. According to the announcement, there is already unprecedented and powerful global collaboration on these issues and the creation of the task force will give all SGATAR members a platform to play a role, including relaying their views to international forums. The task force also is intended to enable cooperation and support for the development of robust, cohesive tax systems in each jurisdiction. According to the announcement, SGATAR members will be able to use the task force to coordinate sharing of best practices and experience and to seek assistance on implementing initiatives such as exchange of information. Current SGATAR members include Australia, 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.

See EY Global Tax Alert, Asia Pacific tax administrations create task force as next step in greater regional cooperation, dated 2 December 2014.

European Union
On 1 December 2014, according to several media outlets, the Finance Ministers of Germany, France and Italy sent a joint letter to Pierre Moscovici, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. According to the reports, the letter calls upon the EU to rapidly develop a new EU Directive on anti-base erosion and profit-shifting measures, which should be presented for consideration before the end of 2014, with a view to EU Member States adopting the measures therein by the end of 2015. According to the reports, the ministers noted that the G20 and the OECD are already one year through a two year long comprehensive BEPS initiative, but further noted that it is important that the EU should also adopt a common set of binding rules that go beyond greater transparency and company registries, to a “general principle of effective taxation” to compensate for the EU’s lack of “tax harmonization.” According to the letter, these rules should include mandatory and automatic exchange of information on cross-border tax rulings (including Advance Pricing Agreements in the field of transfer pricing), a register identifying beneficiaries of trusts, shell companies and other non-transparent entities, and measures against tax havens.

See EY Global Tax Alert, Finance Ministers of France, Germany and Italy ask European Commission to rapidly develop a new Directive addressing tax avoidance and tax evasion issues, dated 2 December 2014.

France
On 5 December 2014, during the debates on the Draft Amended Finance Bill for 2014, the French Assemblée Nationale incorporated a provision addressing inbound hybrid payments. The rule would deny the participation exemption on income from shares (i) if the income was tax deductible for the distributing entity (in implementation of the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive as amended on 8 July 2014) or (ii) if such income was paid out of profits from a non-taxable activity. The rule would apply to fiscal years that begin on or after 1 January 2015. The Bill is still in draft form, and final enactment is expected by the end of December.

See EY Global Tax Alert, French Parliament to implement recent EU rule on hybrid mismatches, dated 8 December 2014.

Netherlands
On 1 December 2014, the Dutch State Secretary of Finance provided input on previously raised parliamentary questions regarding the future of the innovation box regime. Generally, the Dutch State Secretary supports the discussions around substance requirements, but also wants to safeguard the position of innovative small and medium sized entities. The Dutch State Secretary has stated that the Netherlands plans to continue to promote innovation through tax and other incentives and expressed the view that, in light of the strong substance requirements that are in place for the Dutch innovation box, the regime should not be vulnerable for abuse. Based on this, it is not expected that the Dutch government will propose major changes to the Dutch innovation regime at this time.

See EY Global Tax Alert, Dutch State Secretary of Finance provides input on innovation box regime, dated 5 December 2014.

New Zealand
On 27 November 2014, New Zealand’s Minister of Revenue released two officials’ reports regarding BEPS. They outline officials’ current views on the BEPS project and the timetable for action. They show strong support for the OECD’s approach to BEPS and commit to no unilateral measures in advance of final OECD recommendations, which should reduce risks of incoherence and double taxation. They also show that tax authorities are using BEPS concerns to justify certain measures with respect to foreign trusts, non-resident withholding taxes, and tax compliance for large corporations. The reports provide a detailed timetable, which should give business some measure of short-term certainty.

South Africa
On 19 November 2014, National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) made presentations on transfer pricing during a meeting of Parliament’s Mineral Resources and Finance Committees. SARS informed the committees that specific legislation is being considered for transfer pricing documentation and for country-by-country reporting and that a legislative framework for Advance Pricing Agreements is also being considered. While tighter legislation may be needed, SARS recognizes the importance of a balanced approach in line with domestic and international law, which does not pose a deterrent to foreign direct investment. The date when such legislation will be drafted (or implemented) is unclear. SARS also informed Parliament of the results of transfer pricing audits performed over the last three years. The SARS Transfer Pricing Unit has audited more than 30 cases and made transfer pricing adjustments of over R 20billion (at a conservative estimate) with an income tax impact of R 5billion. A similar number of cases are currently in progress and other cases are in the process of risk assessment. This underscores the importance for South African taxpayers of making sure that their transfer pricing policies are compliant with the arm’s length principle and South African transfer pricing regulations.

See EY Global Tax Alert, South African authorities address transfer pricing and OECD’s BEPS Action Plan, dated 8 December 2014.

Spain
On 28 November 2014, Laws enacting a Spanish tax reform were published in the Spanish Official Gazette. Most rules will enter into force as of 1 January 2015 (subject to specific transition rules). Among many other measures, the new Laws address matters that are focus areas in the OECD BEPS project. Anti-hybrid arrangement rules are introduced under which: (i) expenses corresponding to related party transactions will no longer be tax deductible if, as a result of a different tax characterization, no income is generated or, if generated, the income is tax exempt or subject to a nominal tax rate lower than 10%; and (ii) the participation exemption will no longer apply to dividend or profits distributions that are derived from a tax deductible expense in the source country. Intra-group profit sharing loans, currently characterized as debt instruments for Spanish tax purposes, are treated as equity instruments. An additional limitation is introduced that caps deductible interest on loans financing the purchase of purchase of shares at 30% of the operating profit of the acquiring entity (including where the acquired and acquiring entities are merged or join the same tax unity), subject to an escape clause. The Spanish controlled foreign company (CFC) rules are strengthened, including additional substance requirements for the CFC in order to avoid imputation of foreign low-taxed income. Anti-abuse rules regarding EU dividend and royalty payments are amended.

See EY Global Tax Alert, Spain enacts tax reform, dated 5 December 2014.

United Kingdom
On 2 December 2014, the UK Government issued an update on likely changes required to the UK patent box following the work being done on preferential, intellectual-property (IP) tax regimes as part of the OECD BEPS project. The UK announcement indicates that the joint UK and German proposal on a new modified nexus approach was welcomed by both the G20 and the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices as well as the EU’s Code of Conduct Group in recent meetings. The proposal will now form the basis of continuing work by the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices to determine how the approach will work in practice. As part of this work, the OECD will carry out an informal consultation with countries and other stakeholders. Under the proposal, countries with existing preferential IP regimes would be required to agree to close these to new IP by 30 June 2016 and to eliminate them by 30 June 2021, after which all countries would be required to operate only regimes that are compliant with the modified nexus approach. The UK has confirmed its commitment to retaining a patent box. It will consult on changes to the existing patent box once the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices has completed work on the detail of the new rules.

See EY Global Tax Alert, Update on UK Patent Box and other preferential IP regimes, dated 3 December 2014.

On 3 December 2014, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his Autumn Statement. Key announcements from a BEPS perspective include the introduction of a “diverted profits tax” on profits earned as a result of substantial UK activity (e.g., sales) where those profits are considered to be diverted abroad. The tax charge will be 25% of the diverted profits and will come into effect from 1 April 2015. At present there is no further information on the rules but draft legislation and a technical note are expected to be available on 10 December. Also, a consultation document was released on the implementation of the OECD’s recommendations to prevent hybrid mismatches under BEPS Action 2. The new rules are proposed to apply to payments made after 1 January 2017. The rules proposed in the consultation document are directionally similar to the existing UK anti-arbitrage rules, but the motive test would be removed. This would mean that, from 2017, any structure involving hybrid mismatches would potentially be subject to higher UK taxation, regardless of whether the mismatch was for the purposes of avoiding UK tax. The consultation document largely mirrors the latest Action 2 report issued by the OECD in September.

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