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 EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum recently published a paper illustrating when to use the profit split method (PSM) and how to accomplish the split of profits per the OECD Guidelines. The report is linked as a reference.
The report is a complement to, and supports, the OECD Revised Guidelines on the application of the Transactional Profit Split Method issued in June 2018.
As this method is not simple, and is also a focus on transfer pricing issues in the US, this paper is valuable into the application and concepts of PSM.
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.
The OECD is considering starting two new projects to revise the guidance in Chapter IV (administrative approaches) and Chapter VII (intra-group services) of the Transfer Pricing Guidelines.
OECD has issued scoping papers for public comments addressing transfer pricing disputes and intra-group services, provided for reference herein in addition to Deloitte’s Global TP Alert with insightful comments.
Comments on both subjects are due by June 20, 2018. Both topics are significant, thus a review of the scoping paper focus is recommended, with an opportunity to provide comments.
On 22 June 2017, the “Platform for Collaboration on Tax” (the Platform) – a joint effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) – released a toolkit (the Toolkit) designed to help developing countries address the lack of “comparables” for transfer pricing analyses and better understand mineral product pricing practices.
This Toolkit should also be reviewed by multinationals (MNEs) in developing countries to address the potential lack of comparables to better understand how the tax authorities will approach a transfer pricing audit. The mining supplement is required reading for those working in that industry.
Additional toolkits will be forthcoming:
Indirect transfer of assets
Base eroding payments
Tax treaty negotiation capacity
Supply chain management
BEPS risk assessment
As the first edition of the Toolkit has now been published, it will be interesting to watch developing countries apply the tools prescribed, providing a baseline going forward. All international tax practitioners should be familiar with this latest joint endeavor, as it is an indication of the shared resource approach that is now our future.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details, and the OECD Toolkit are referenced for review.
OECD has issued its latest discussion draft on hard-to-value intangibles; comments are due by June 30, 2017.
OECD’s press release states: The Final Report on Actions 8-10 of the BEPS Action Plan (“Aligning Transfer Pricing Outcomes with Value Creation”) mandated the development of guidance on the implementation of the approach to pricing hard-to-value intangibles (“HTVI”) contained in Section D.4 of Chapter VI of the Transfer Pricing Guidelines.
This discussion draft, which does not yet represent a consensus position of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs or its subsidiary bodies, presents the principles that should underline the implementation of the approach to HTVI, provides examples illustrating the application of this approach, and addresses the interaction between the approach to HTVI and the mutual agreement procedure under an applicable treaty.
As intangibles are one of the most contested issues in transfer pricing, also fact specific with subjectivity, this discussion draft merits a review by all international tax practitioners to view the current thinking by the OECD, as well as a chance to provide comments in reaction.
EY’s Global Tax Alert and the Discussion Draft references are provided:
The Council of the European Union has proposed a draft EU Directive, to be in effect by June 30 2019, that would resolve double taxation disputes between Member States. A summary of the Draft Directive is provided, as well as referenced herein.
This proposal is based upon the foundation of the Union Arbitration Convention (90/436/EEC) re: cross-border tax disputes.
3 years, from first notification, to file a complaint by the taxpayer
Each competent authority (CA) acknowledges receipt within 2 months
Additional 3 months by CA’s to request additional information, by which the taxpayer has 3 months to provide
Approx. 6 months later, CA’s decide to accept or reject the complaint; or a CA can decide to resolve unilaterally by which the Directive is terminated
Taxpayer may appeal per national rules a rejection of the complaint
CA’s try to resolve issue within 2 years, which may be extended by 1 year
Upon taxpayer’s request, an Advisory Commission shall be established where the complaint is rejected by not all of the relevant CA’s, or a failure by CA’s to reach agreement. This request can be denied by a Member State on a case by case basis where a question of dispute does not involve double taxation.
Advisory Commission = Chair, 1-2 representatives of each CA, and 1-2 independent persons by each CA
Advisory Commission to adopt a decisions within 6 months
CA’s may, alternatively, set up an Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission instead of the Advisory Commission; this commission has freedom of techniques to settle
Professional secrecy standards are prescribed
Advisory or Alternative Commission opines in 3-6 months
CA’s shall agree within 6 months of the opinion on how to resolve the complaint; they can decide on a decision that deviates from the opinion or be bound by the opinion
Final decision does not constitute a precedent
(Redacted) decision is published and maintained in an online central repository
Evaluation of process by June 30, 2024 and issue a report
As the key point summary infers, there are many provisions in the Draft Directive, requiring a proactive effort by the taxpayer and relevant CA’s. The Directive can be reviewed via the attached link:
The UN has published the second edition (First edition in 2013) of a transfer pricing manual for developing countries.
The world has changed considerably since 2013, notably affected by BEPS and the OECD’s actions, including collaborating with developing countries. However, the UN notes developing countries may not have the sophistication as other developed countries, and this manual provides valuable insight into the trends in this area.
The transfer pricing practices of Mexico, China and Brazil are also summarized in this edition.
The TP Manual is a “must read” for international tax practitioners to fully understand today’s complex dynamics that do not lead to global consistency or simplification.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have put forth additional recommended disclosures and requirements for the Accounting Directive of public Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting, prior to enactment of the original proposal.
The Accounting Directive allows a simple majority for passage, and involves additional complexities and cost as the OECD model is now just a starting point for new information.
The Parliament would also like to extend the proposal to include the following information in company reports:
The geographical location of the activities
The number of employees employed on a full-time equivalent basis
The value of assets and annual cost of maintaining those assets
Sales and purchases
The value of investments broken down by tax jurisdiction
The amount of the net turnover, including a distinction between the turnover made with related parties and the turnover made with unrelated parties
Tangible assets other than cash or cash equivalents
Public subsidies received
The list of subsidiaries operating in each tax jurisdiction both inside and outside the EU and data for those subsidiaries corresponding to the data requirements on the parent undertaking
All payments made to governments on an annual basis as defined in the Directive, including production entitlements, income taxes, royalties and dividends
The report shall not only be published on the website of the company in at least one of the official languages of the EU, but the undertaking shall also file the report in a public registry managed by the Commission
EY’s Global Tax Alert, referenced herein, provides the relevant details, although it appears the CbC report is not being construed as one tool for total transfer pricing assessment, but a public tool to determine one’s fair share of tax irrespective of the legal laws and limitations in each country.
An alternative approach would be to design a standard (transfer pricing) audit template for the tax authorities that would include some, or all, of the above factors to the extent deemed important to assess a company’s tax liability in that relevant jurisdiction. However, this non-public and Best Practice audit tool is not the focus in this post-BEPS world, to date.
The attached link provides access to an invaluable transfer pricing (TP) handbook which is an excellent resource for all international tax practitioners/advisors.
With the advent of the BEPS era and new/novel approaches to arms’s-length pricing are voiced, this resource is a great desktop reference with experience gained by the authors in both applying TP principles as well as teaching those principles to tax administrations in developing economies.
Examples and “boxes” of summary content are provided in the handbook, in addition to a discussion on TP disputes that is inevitable with BEPS Actions and unilateral actions (both legislative and “soft law”) being applied across the world.
A summary of the chapter titles provides a summary of the details therein:
TP, Corporate strategy, and the Investment Climate
The International Legal Framework
Drafting a TP Legislation
Applying the Arm’s-Length Principle
Selected Issues in TP
Promoting Taxpayer Compliance through Communication, Disclosure Requirements, TP Documentation, and Penalties
The 2016 draft of the UN TP Manual includes India’s latest expression of alignment, as well as differing views from the OECD BEPS Actions 8-10 and 13.
Accordingly, the Indian tax administration is of the view that the guidance flowing from the final report of the BEPS project on Actions 8-10 should be utilized by both the transfer pricing officers (TPOs) and taxpayers in situations of ambiguity in interpretation of the law. However, India has not endorsed the guidance in the BEPS report pertaining to low value adding intra group services under Action 10 and has not opted for the simplified approach. Further, India has endorsed the recommendations contained in the BEPS final report on Action 13, which supported the three-tiered documentation regime comprising a Local File, a Master File and a Country-by-Country Report and has already carried out legislative changes in its domestic law.
India is known for its creativity, non-technical aggressive positions, and the number of years required to appeal initial assessments. Some of these positions, currently in litigation and dispute, have been reiterated as a further stance in their hard line position on transfer pricing to enhance its economic fisc. Accordingly, interested international tax practitioners should be cognizant of these positions, as other countries will surely “look and see” if such positions could also benefit their economic fisc similarly.
The IRS has indicated its willingness to share unilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) information to align with BEPS Action 5 re: transparency and substance.
As other jurisdictions have provided taxpayers to submit summary information that will be shared in such exchange, the IRS has not yet indicated such procedures. Thus, it is advised that any multinational with such rulings attempt to obtain a copy of the information to be shared, prior to the automatic sharing process, to ensure its accuracy.
The EY Global Alert provides additional details of this new development.
Most importantly, any taxpayer with tax rulings should already be looking at the information that could be shared to address potential questions/issues by other tax authorities, especially if there are different transfer pricing arrangements in place.
The draft country-by-country (CbC) law has been forwarded to Parliament, in alignment with the EU Directive for 2016 tax year reporting.
A surrogate parent entity should file a CbC report with the Luxembourg tax authorities in one of the following cases:
The ultimate parent entity (UPE) is not obliged to file a CbC report in its country of residence,
The UPE is obliged to submit a CbC report, but there is no automatic exchange of CbC reports between Luxembourg and the country of residence of the UPE or
The UPE is obliged to submit a CbC report,and there is automatic exchange of CbC reports, but due to systematic failure, no effective exchange of information takes place.
As the terminology includes “obliged” vs. voluntary filings in some countries, the filing entity and disclosure rules should be reviewed. Additionally, there are significant penalties for late/non-filing.
The EY Global Tax Alert, linked for reference, provides additional details.
The OECD, in its June release of country-by-country (CbC) guidance, sets forth guidance of BEPS Action 13 re: parent-surrogate reporting that includes the US, Japan and tentatively Switzerland, for which there are no obligatory filing requirements for the calendar tax year 2016.
However, several countries have previously enacted legislation that may not literally accommodate such rules (i.e. voluntary filing to a parent surrogate). To the extent there is this possibility, will the parent surrogate country indemnify such taxpayers for non-filing penalties, etc. imposed by another country for failing to file according to its specific legislation? Alternatively, a detailed review of the specific legislation of all countries adopting CbC is in order. Simplification of CbC filing is the intent of the OECD Guidelines, however additional assurance would be welcome by the parent surrogate countries to support this presumption.
OECD has released discussion drafts on Action 7, attribution of profit to permanent establishments (PEs) and Actions 8-10 (profit splits).
It also requested public review of the document containing conforming changes to Chapter IX (business restructurings) of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines (TPG).
The PE Discussion Draft is not restricted to issues related to PEs that will result from the changes made by the Action 7 Final Report, but also takes into account the results of the work on other parts of the BEPS Action Plan dealing with transfer pricing, in particular the work related to intangibles, risk and capital. This factor is especially important if countries do not adopt the new Action 5 PE Guidelines in a bilateral tax treaty or via the pending multilateral instrument. Thus, this section will be all-encompassing and important to understand the drivers, such as key people functions, behind this issue.
The profit split guidance is indicia of a trend for some governments to apply this standard, albeit not from a pure economic/technical perspective. Therefore, this complex guidance will enhance knowledge of those being asked the question from tax authorities, as well as in developing transfer pricing guidance.
EY’s Global Tax Alert describes these developments in greater detail.