OECD Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB): Update
The OECD’s TIWB program’s trial phase ended in December, 2014, with a launch scheduled in 2015, subsequent to a review process. (Refer to the 9 June, 2013 post).
The TIWB’s objective is to enable sharing of tax audit knowledge and skills with tax administrators in developing countries through a targeted, real-time “learning by doing” approach. The program encompasses transfer pricing, thin capitalization, APA’s, anti-avoidance rules, pre-audit risk / case selection, and VAT, although customs is excluded. Links to the program summary and the Toolkit (published in Nov. 2014) are included for reference:
Click to access tax-inspectors-without-borders-toolkit.pdf
The Toolkit details the role of a TIWB Secretariat as a Facilitator, and roles and responsibilities of the parties to this shared arrangement. Eligible individuals must meet a 5-year minimum audit experience requirement, and they can be currently working or recently retired. Most importantly, the Toolkit addresses legal liability considerations and confidentiality restrictions during, and after, their assistance. T
his initiative should be monitored closely, as there do not seem to be prescribed transparency rules for the company under audit. Therefore, a question for the opening audit could be an inquiry as to the tax administration’s expectations for outside expert assistance from TIWB. Additionally, an expert with limited experience, coupled with the lack of familiarity with subjective jurisdictional rules for GAAR assessments, for example, may place additional burdens on an expert and the host country in assessing inherently complex rules.
This initiative has a strong likelihood for implementation that further reinforces the OECD’s intent to provide additional guidance for developing countries as complex BEPS Actions are implemented on a domestic level. Accordingly, it is imperative to review the Toolkit for current familiarity with this program and follow its developments in the near future.