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.
As time for implementation of the Multilateral Instrument (“MLI”) draws near, it may be time to refresh the history and current status of this instrument.
Reference links are provided for The Multilateral Convention, Guidance for the Development of Synthesised Texts published by the OECD in November 2018, and Status of the Parties to a MLI as of December 21, 2018. An extract from the
An extract from the Synthesized Texts is provided as context:
This Guidance has been prepared to provide suggestions to Parties to the MLI for the development of documents they could produce to help users of the MLI to understand its effects on tax agreements it covers and modifies (the “Covered Tax Agreements”). The objective is to present in a single document and for each covered tax agreement: the text of a Covered Tax Agreement, including the text of relevant amending instruments; the elements of the MLI that have an effect on the Covered Tax Agreement as a result of the interaction of the MLI positions of its Contracting Jurisdictions; and information on the dates on which the provisions of the MLI have effect in each Contracting Jurisdiction for the Covered Tax Agreement. Such documents would be referred to as “synthesised texts”.
To ensure clarity and transparency for the application of the MLI, Parties that intend to develop documents setting out the impact of the MLI on their Covered Tax Agreements should be as consistent as possible. This Guidance sets out a suggested approach for the development of synthesised texts. The Guidance also suggests sample language that could be included in the synthesised texts. At this stage, the sample language includes: a sample general disclaimer on the synthesised texts; a sample disclaimer on the entry into effect of the provisions of the MLI; for each MLI Article, “sample boxes” of the provisions of the MLI that could modify the covered tax agreements; and sample footnote texts on the entry into effect of the provisions of the MLI.
As the New Year draws near from a personal perspective, it is also a New Year for birth of the MLI and its impact on worldwide tax treaties.
OECD has updated guidelines for several aspects of Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting, including:
- Dividends included in pre-tax book income
- Definition of revenues and taxes paid
- Aggregate data in one jurisdiction/eliminations
- Accumulated earnings/loss
- Treatment of major shareholdings / ownership by multiple groups
- Short accounting periods
- Parent surrogate filing
As the 2017 CbC report is almost due for US calendar-year taxpayers, it is imperative to review the OECD guidelines to ensure year-to-year consistency, with relevant statements attached for transparency.
A link to the guidelines is attached for reference.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on 30 August released a fourth round of stage 1 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action 14 peer reports on improving tax dispute resolution mechanisms. The reports assess each country’s efforts to implement the Action 14 minimum standard.
Valuable insights from these reports can be gained, especially if a taxpayer is under audit where some of these questions/uncertainties may arise. The peer reports are performed on a desk audit basis, with other parties comments considered by OECD.
Some insights are APA rollbacks, granting of MAP in all/certain transfer pricing cases, etc. Reference links are provided.
Reports covering Australia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand and Portugalwere published.
Under the mandate of the Report on Actions 8-10 of the BEPS Action Plan (“Aligning Transfer Pricing Outcomes with Value Creation”), Working Party No. 6 (“WP6”) has produced a non-consensus discussion draft on financial transactions.
Comments are due by September 7, 2018. The treasury function, guarantees, intra-group loans, cash pooling transactions and captive insurance are the broad agendas discussed.
The guidance is not intended to prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under domestic legislation, nor does it seek to mandate accurate delineation under Chapter I as the only approach for determining whether purported debt should be respected as debt.
As this guidance is critical for establishing if an instrument is true debt, as well as transfer pricing implications for financial relationships, this discussion draft is critical to review and provide relevant comments.
The OECD’s discussion draft is referenced herein for review.
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.
Tax Executives Institute (TEI) recently submitted a letter in response to requested comments by the OECD re: revisions to its transfer pricing guidelines. The submission is well drafted and articulate, generally urging OECD to improve current practices rather than adopting new complex mechanisms.
An example of several suggestions is provided:
TEI suggests a number of elements should be included in future guidance to improve transfer pricing compliance practices. First, tax authorities should share their risk assessments with taxpayers so taxpayers can improve their compliance processes where appropriate, or engage in a discussion with tax authorities regarding their view of the taxpayer’s compliance risk. Second, to avoid transfer pricing disputes, Chapter IV should urge tax authorities to focus audit activity on transactions that are more likely to be tax motivated (i.e., between high and low tax jurisdictions), rather than simple intercompany transactions where the taxpayer makes reasonable efforts to price the transactions and where the possibility of a tax motivation is remote. For example, head office cost allocations between countries with relatively comparable tax rates should be viewed as low risk. Finally, the OECD should encourage countries to consider halting interest and penalties if dispute resolution takes longer than two years and if the country does not have a mandatory arbitration procedure.
TEI’s submission should be read in its entirety to further understand the direction of OECD and possible remedies in the complex world of transfer pricing.