The OECD has now two proposals in process: Pillar One addresses the digital economy and Pillar Two sets forth a global minimum tax system; global anti-base erosion (GloBE) proposal. The proposals are linked herein for reference.
Both proposals may have one or more legal entities of a multinational taxed on more than one approach, whether they have a digital business segment, and also dependent on the countries where it is taxed notwithstanding the type of business it operates.
This represents a new era of BEPS, and one that demands attention to as the proposals move forward.
Pillar One summary
- Scope. The approach covers highly digital business models but goes wider – broadly focusing on consumer-facing businesses with further work to be carried out on scope and carve-outs. Extractive industries are assumed to be out of the scope.
- New Nexus. For businesses within the scope, it creates a new nexus, not dependent on physical presence but largely based on sales. The new nexus could have thresholds including country specific sales thresholds calibrated to ensure that jurisdictions with smaller economies can also benefit. It would be designed as a new self-standing treaty provision.
- New Profit Allocation Rule going beyond the Arm’s Length Principle. It creates a new profit allocation rule applicable to taxpayers within the scope, and irrespective of whether they have an in-country marketing or distribution presence (permanent establishment or separate subsidiary) or sell via unrelated distributors. At the same time, the approach largely retains the current transfer pricing rules based on the arm’s length principle but complements them with formula based solutions in areas where tensions in the current system are the highest.
- Increased Tax Certainty delivered via a Three Tier Mechanism. The approach increases tax certainty for taxpayers and tax administrations and consists of a three tier profit allocation mechanism, as follows:
- ‒ Amount A – a share of deemed residual profit6 allocated to market jurisdictions using a formulaic approach, i.e. the new taxing right
- ‒ Amount B – a fixed remuneration for baseline marketing and distribution functions that take place in the market jurisdiction; and
- ‒ Amount C – binding and effective dispute prevention and resolution mechanisms relating to all elements of the proposal, including any additional profit where in-country functions exceed the baseline activity compensated under Amount B.
Pillar Two Summary
Under Pillar Two, the Members of the Inclusive Framework have agreed to explore an approach that leaves jurisdictions free to determine their own tax system, including whether they have a corporate income tax and where they set their tax rates, but considers the right of other jurisdictions to apply the rules explored further below where income is taxed at an effective rate below a minimum rate. Within this context, and on a without prejudice basis, the members of the Inclusive Framework have agreed a programme of work that contains exploration of an inclusion rule, a switch over rule, an undertaxed payment rule, and a subject to tax rule. They have further agreed to explore, as part of this programme of work, issues related to rule co-ordination, simplification, thresholds, compatibility with international obligations and any other issues that may emerge in the course of the work.
Members of the Inclusive Framework agree that any rules developed under this Pillar should not result in taxation where there is no economic profit nor should they result in double taxation.
This part sets out the global anti-base erosion (GloBE) proposal which seeks to address remaining BEPS risk of profit shifting to entities subject to no or very low taxation It first provides background including the proposed rationale for the proposal and then summarises the mechanics of the proposed rules together with a summary of the issues that will be explored as part of the programme of work.
While the measures set out in the BEPS package have further aligned taxation with value creation and closed gaps in the international tax architecture that allowed for double non-taxation, certain members of the Inclusive Framework consider that these measures do not yet provide a comprehensive solution to the risk that continues to arise from structures that shift profit to entities subject to no or very low taxation. These members are of the view that profit shifting is particularly acute in connection with profits relating to intangibles, prevalent in the digital economy, but also in a broader context; for instance group entities that are financed with equity capital and generate profits, from intra-group financing or similar activities, that are subject to no or low taxes in the jurisdictions where those entities are established.
The Platform for Collaboration on Tax – a joint initiative of the IMF, OECD, UN and World Bank Group – has undertaken, at the request of the G20, the development of a series of “Toolkits” to help guide developing countries in the implementation of policy options for issues in international taxation of greatest relevance to these countries.
This toolkit, in draft version, is intended to provide an analysis of policy options and a “source book” of guidance and examples to assist low capacity countries in implementing efficient and effective transfer pricing documentation regimes.
This first part of the Toolkit provides information on the background, context and objectives of transfer pricing documentation regimes.
Part II then discusses a number of general policy options and legislative approaches relevant to all types of documentation requirements.
PART II. OPTIONS FOR COUNTRIES TO IMPLEMENT TRANSFER PRICING DOCUMENTATION
This section discusses various policy considerations and options relevant to designing a regime for transfer pricing documentation. These include:
- The regulatory framework, through a combination of primary legislation, secondary legislation and guidance;
- Confidentiality of taxpayers’ documentation and information;
- Timing issues concerning when documentation must be in place and when it is required to be submitted to the tax administration;
- Enforcement, including penalties and measures to assist and promote voluntary compliance;
- Dealing with access to information outside the jurisdiction; and
- Simplification and exemptions.
Part III focuses more specifically at each kind of documentation in turn, and examines the specific policy choices that are relevant to each, as well as providing a number of examples of country practices.
The final part sets out a number of conclusions.
As the French digital services tax (DST) is in effect from 1/1/2019, with the first payment due in November, there is considerable uncertainty how this tax will be repealed/refunded when/if an OECD DST model takes its place.
The politicians see this as a potential remedy to put out the fire which started with implementation of this tax. However, this issue becomes more complex from an international tax perspective as to how a refund/repeal would be treated: prospectively, retroactively, or some other method.
As this tax, similar to other provisions, was enacted unilaterally by the French administration anxious to improve their fisc, it is now shown to be disingenuous timing at the expense of multinationals which now have to pay this tax. Hopefully, other countries do not follow this lead in advance of the OECD DST proposals.
The recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit continues to endorse the OECD’s digital project, which includes future debates on nexus allocations, profit allocations and minimum tax.
EY’s Global Tax Alert highlights these developments, as well as remind international tax colleagues to continually monitor these important developments.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have enacted new economic substance requirements that entered into force at the end of April 2019.
In response to EU Code of Conduct Group (COCG) initiatives, the governments of Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius and Seychelles introduced economic substance rules with effect from 1 January 2019. The rules are based on the guidance and requirements issued by the EU and the OECD, and are designed to ensure that companies operating in a low or no corporate tax jurisdiction have a substantial purpose other than tax reduction and an economic outcome that is aligned with value creation. To align with the international standards, the UAE has now enacted substance rules.
To meet the economic substance requirement, companies will generally need to satisfy the following three tests:
- The company should be directed and managed in the UAE for the specific activity.
- The company’s CIGA should be performed in the UAE.
- The company should have an adequate level of qualified employees, premises and annual operating expenditures.
Companies with UAE operations, especially without adequate substance, should review the new rules or administrative penalties or reregistration.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details for reference.
Not awaiting the OECD’s proposals for which a Workplace will be delivered in 2020, implementation following that several years later, New Zealand seeks to propose a 2-3% Digital Services Tax (DST) in the interim. Public comments will be accepted by July 18th. The Government discussion document and EY’s Global Tax Alert provide details, as referenced herein.
Discussion document highlights:
The Government is committed to ensuring everyone pays their fair share of tax, including digital multinationals. Achieving this will require changes to the current tax rules. There are two options for this:
- The first option is to apply a separate digital services tax (DST) to certain digital transactions. A DST taxes at a low rate (for example, 2% to 3%) the gross turnover of certain highly digitalised businesses that are attributable to the country.
- The other option is to change the current international income tax rules, which have been agreed to by countries (usually referred to as “the international tax framework”).
In summary, New Zealand is not patient to wait for OECD rules, wishes to implement a transition tax in the interim and plans to repeal this tax with the OECD solution when it becomes effective.