Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Posts tagged ‘US’

US int’l tax update

The latest US tax updates are summarized in EY’s Global Tax Alert, with a referenced link

  • Tax Reform 2.0: House is moving forward with three separate bills, hoping at least one will pass, although Senate will not review prior to Nov. midterm elections
  • GILTI: Additional rules re: interaction of Foreign Tax Credit and GILTI by Dec. 31, 2018  (It is hoped that the calculation of Sec. 163(j) interest limitations will be addressed re: application on a separate CFC basis, consolidated basis, or other method)
  • GILTI: Final regulations June 2019
  • IRS plans to establish separate webpages for the major international tax provisions enacted by the 2017 tax reform to provide informal taxpayer guidance. The webpages will follow a similar format that was adopted by the IRS to offer informal information regarding the TCJA’s transition tax.
  • IRS: Restructuring the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement program (APMA) to consolidate resources and improve internal processes, including economists.

There is still significant uncertainty re: Sec. 965 repatriation tax, GILTI, FDII and BEAT provisions by taxpayers.  It is hopeful that meaningful guidance will be issued shortly.      

Click to access 2018G_011226-18Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%2028%20Sept%202018.pdf

GILTI: Proposed Reg’s-partial answers

The proposed Reg’s provide some answers, such as calculating GILT on a consolidated approach, but has punted (subject to later guidance) on GILTI foreign tax credits, the Sec. 250 deduction which also is applicable for the FDII provision, definitive guidance on a separate GILTI basket (although noting its expectation) and application of Sec. 163j  re: interest expense.

Complex rules are set forth to determine a particular US shareholder’s portion of GILTI.  These rules were necessary as the separate shareholder approach was further clarified as a consolidated calculation which does alleviate unnecessary planning to accomplish that result.

Additionally, anti-abuse provisions were included to combat perceived abuse, some of which have already sparked heated controversy.  As an example, a CFC’s tested loss does not represent a loss carryover against future year’s tested income.  “Donut hole” planning initiated by many taxpayers has also been reversed by this guidance.

The guidance further confirms that each controlled foreign corporation (CFC)’s income calculation is to be based on the concept of a US tax return and principles approach.  Additionally, ADS depreciation is to be used regardless of the acquisition date of the foreign tangible property.

Practitioners will be absorbing this new complexity to change their calculations for Q3 Annual ETR calculations, while also finalizing the SAB 118 one-year period to finalize the Sec. 965 deemed repatriation tax provisions effective in Q4 2017 for a calendar-year taxpayer.   

Technical/practical articles and webinars have already started in earnest, as everyone is learning about these new rules simultaneously.

A reference to the proposed Regulations are included for reference.

Click to access reg-104390-18.pdf

US Tax Reform 2.0: Listening framework

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released a listening session framework for “Tax Reform 2.0.” This framework launches the listening sessions that will occur with lawmakers and constituents back home as Ways and Means Republicans work to make our new pro-growth tax code even stronger for our families and Main Street businesses.

Upon releasing this framework, Chairman Brady said:

“Every day, businesses wake up and ask themselves ‘how do we become more competitive, innovative, and better?’ That practice has always been foreign to Washington—that ends now. With this framework, we are taking the first step to change the culture in Washington D.C. where tax reform only happens once a generation. We plan to work off this framework to build on the growing successes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and ensure this energized economy continues moving forward.” 

The listening session framework is attached for reference:

Click to access tax_reform_2.0_house_gop_listening_session_framework_.pdf

US/EU/OECD tax developments

EY’s Global Tax Alert details several important global developments worth watching:

  • Phase 2 US tax reform – individual taxes, what else?
  • OECD’s first peer review reporting on BEPS Action 13: TP Documentation and County-by-Country (CbC) reporting (attached herein for reference)
  • EU Directive on cross-border reportable arrangements, reporting to commence in 2020 although effective date will be June/July 2018.  

The reportable arrangements are a must read for international tax colleagues to understand the impact of arrangements planned for currently that may become a transparent arrangement to be reported in the EU.

The OECD CbC report is also helpful to understand the trend that CbC reports will generate ongoing, and the viewpoint of the countries that administer this process.

The OECD BEPS Actions, including CbC reporting, significantly impact international tax compliance burdens and challenges going forward.  Additionally, US tax reform still has experts deliberating their practical application, notwithstanding future legislation.

Click to access 2018G_03277-181Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%201%20June%202018.pdf

https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/taxation/country-by-country-reporting-compilation-of-peer-review-reports-phase-1_9789264300057-en#page1

Debt/cap review: Finland/US/…

Finland is expanding its rules on interest deductibility, including additional breadth over the OECD/BEPS Actions.  Finland is following many other countries, in disallowing such deductions while not providing a deferral/exemption of interest income in the related jurisdiction for interest income.

Additionally, US tax reform has also introduced new interest limitation rules, based upon a 30% tax adjusted EBITDA concept.

This is the ideal time to review one’s capital structure worldwide; is it achieving the economic interests that were in place?  Most MNE’s will be affected in one or more countries from the BEPS, and expanded BEPS, actions by many countries.  The expanded legislative framework dictates a new review of global capital structures.

https://home.kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2018/01/tnf-finland-proposed-changes-to-interest-deduction-limitation-rules.html

US Tax Bill

The House Ways and Means Committee published the initial draft of their bill on Nov. 2, 2017, a far-reaching document that had a few surprises.

Apart from the expected provisions, albeit different tax rates for the transition tax to a (quasi) territorial system than was expected, the double dip corporate interest provisions (worst of either rule) added a base erosion principle for most large multinationals in addition to a 30% tax based limitation.  This new limitation was based on the premise that debt was being used in the US, receiving a tax benefit therefrom, while such proceeds have been transferred offshore resulting in a non-symmetrical base erosion assumption.

Additionally, a new 20% excise tax on payments to foreign affiliates from the US that are deductible, includable in cost of goods sold/inventory or as fixed assets are subject to a non-deductible 20% excise tax.  This provision raises $155 billion.  Most importantly, this does not have an export offset that was present in the now extinct Business Activities Tax provision, and is not limited to US headquartered multinationals.  Knowing this provision would be challenging for most organizations to react quickly thereto, the effective date is 2019 whereas most of the provisions have an effective date of 2018.

Both of these “surprise” provisions already have many decrying the present draft, while the House Ways and Means Subcommittee is already in process of revising this document.

Aside from the formal bill, the House comments of each section should be reviewed, as it underscores the intent of the writers for such provision.

For the political process, this bill will be changed by the House Ways and Means prior to a vote by the House, another version will be produced by the Senate and a final reconciliation bill will need to be passed by both the House and Senate prior to forwarding to President Trump for signature.

The effective enactment date is being pushed for the end of this year, although it may easily drift into the first quarter of 2018.

A link to the bill is provided, which should serve as a baseline followed by legislative changes as it flows through the process, potentially becoming the largest tax code change since the 1986 provisions.

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/tax-cuts-jobs-act-resources/

US Tax Framework in print

The US Tax Framework was published Sept. 27, a notable date as this date is also used to mark the timeframe for expensing investments.

The main corporate tax points, and subtleties, include:

  • 20% corporate tax rate, but the tax rate and differential for one-time foreign earnings/cash is not specified.
  • Minimum tax on foreign profits to “level the playing field”
  • Territoriality system, exempting 100% of dividends (although the KPMG linked notes include the point that this is not equivalent to “distributions” thus a complicated Earnings and Profits tracking system may still apply)
  • Interest expense will be “limited” (EBITDA/other?)
  • R&D credit remains, although Sec. 199 US manufacturing incentive deduction is lost
  • Pass-through structures tax rate of 25%
  • Corporate AMT is gone.

The President has formally and forcefully announced his continued message for tax reform, as both the House and Senate Committees are now drafting language that will hopefully result in legislation enacted late 2017 or early 2018 with the political complexities / process.

Upon enactment, the US GAAP tax accounting will be complex and required results for public companies in the quarter of enactment.  Additionally, the timing for state enactment is also a separate complex issue that will need analysis.

The US Framework is repeatedly attempting to “level the playing field,” now the politicians, journalists, advisors and tax practitioners will all work with a little bit of fact to create a cocoon of fiction by which the impending tax reform can be measured.  

Click to access 2017G_05589-171Gbl_US%20tax%20reform%20-%20corporate%20and%20international%20provisions.pdf

Click to access Tax-Framework.pdf

US developments: BAT still alive?

EY’s Global Tax Alert highlights the heightened uncertainty around the proposed Business Activity Tax (BAT) by the House and interested parties.

The BAT is a revenue raising proposal, thus the revenues from this plan would help to move a bill towards passage via the political complexities and processes required.  It is very important to monitor, as the death of this proposal would mean deriving that lost revenue from another initiative (i.e. raising the tax rate, etc.).  

Click to access 2017G_03417-171Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%2025%20May%202017.pdf

US int’l developments: CbC exchange

EY’s Global Tax Alert, referenced herein, provides a summary of the latest US international tax developments, including the exchange of BEPS related information.

US recently finalized two model competent authority agreements that will be used for exchanging country-by-country (CbC) reports. One model will apply to information exchanged under US tax treaties, the other will be used with US tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs). A tax treaty or TIEA serves as the legal basis for the exchange of tax information in the CbC reports.

Most importantly, the US has two requirements for countries exchanging CbC reports under OECD’s Action 13: (1) a legal instrument authorizing the exchange, and (2) adequate data security.  With respect to the security prerequisite, this presents uncertainty as to which countries are not considered to have the requisite security.  However, will this “list” be communicated in advance so MNE’s are in compliance with that country’s laws requiring the submission of CbC data?  This should be a forethought, rather than an afterthought, to the process.

Click to access 2017G_01247-171Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%2017%20March%202017.pdf

US update: Tax reform is near

With the (unexpected) victory for President-elect Trump, coupled with a majority in both the House and Senate, it is highly likely US tax reform is near.  There is a close correlation with Trump’s Plan and the Republican’s Blueprint tax reform initiative, although transitional details (Foreign Tax Credits, Earnings & Profits, etc.) still need to be completed.  The US tax rate may no longer be one of the highest in the world, and the tax economics of moving business initiatives, and repatriating cash, to the US are welcome thoughts for US based multinationals.  However, attention needs to be focused on the details, including Q4 2016 actions that may provide more efficiencies for the expected 2017 US tax reform.

EY’s Global Tax Alert, and the Blueprint are included for reference.

http://www.ey.com/gl/en/services/tax/international-tax/alert–us-election-2016-and-the-tax-landscape

Click to access ABetterWay-Tax-PolicyPaper.pdf

US: BEPS Action 5 sharing

 

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.

Click to access 2016US_03632-161US_TP_US%20IRS%20will%20follow%20BEPS%20Action%205%20rec%20by%20exchanging%20summs%20of%20unilateral%20APAs.pdf

US: international developments

The US Treasury and IRS released the 2016-2017 Priority Guidance Plan, which highlights intended final regulations re: Sec. 956 for loans to foreign partnerships, and Sec. 367(d) transfers of intangible property to foreign corporations.

Treasury has stated its acknowledgment of concerns re: 385 rules, and intends to address them in rules still going forward for release in several weeks.  These rules are far-reaching (per the current proposed Regulations) and merit immediate attention by tax and treasury practitioners in all MNE’s.  Most importantly, the Sec. 385 rules re: loans/distributions are in addition to the current subjective debt/equity subjective rules and a long history of case law.  Accordingly the impact on documentation should be completed within the next 3 months by all MNE’s.

EY’s Global Tax Alert provides further details on the US international developments.

Click to access EY-are-you-ready-for-your-close-up.pdf

US update: 385 rules still in play

The controversial final Section 385 regulations are still being debated, with Treasury focusing on earnings stripping issues, although seemingly has heard valuable comments as to its detrimental effect on physical or notional cash pooling.  Every MNE should have read the proposed Reg’s and educated their treasury and finance functions accordingly, which should be an immediate priority due to its expansive potential effect on treasury, legal and tax structures going forward.  

The US House is set to release its tax blueprint next week, which may become more important if a Republican president is elected with potential reforms again in play.

EY’s Global Tax Alert discusses these topics and some BEPS updates.

Click to access 2016G_01618-161Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%2017%20June%202016.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.

US & BEPS conformity: (Un)certainty

The attached letter from the Congressional tax-writing Committees to US Treasury sets the stage for future US BEPS conformity and policy approach.  This letter is especially revealing after the US has declined an invitation to be a member of the ad-hoc group for creating a BEPS Multilateral Instrument, of which over 80 countries have signaled their positive intent.

The letter also questions the positive verbal nods from the US that it has relevant legislative authority to collect the Country-by-Country report, and disseminate it, in accordance with OECD’s intent.

Additionally, the letter confirms that the US strongly adheres to the arm’s length transfer pricing principle, which was in clear evidence during the BEPS proceedings.

Only time will reveal the final answers, however the inward US focus is clearly evident as has been the case for other countries that have already adopted BEPS incentivized legislation that may not conform with OECD’s final guidelines.
The letter is attached for reference, with my highlights for emphasis.

Hatch, Ryan Call on Treasury to Engage Congress on OECD International Tax Project
Lawmakers Push to Ensure Global Tax Law Recommendations Benefit U.S. Interests
June 9, 2015 – PRESS RELEASE
Ryan: BRENDAN BUCK (202) 226-4774
Hatch: JULIA LAWLESS (202) 224-4515

WASHINGTON — In advance of the 2015 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) taking place this week in the nation’s capital, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) called on Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to work with Congress to ensure the international tax proposals being considered under the BEPS project are beneficial to American workers and job creators.
“As your BEPS discussions continue and proposals are considered, we strongly encourage you to continue engagement with us and to solicit input from the tax-writing committees,” wrote Hatch and Ryan in a letter today. “We have been monitoring, and continue to monitor, the BEPS project, and we understand the significance it carries in the global community and its potential impact on U.S. workers and their multinational employers. We stand ready to work with you as the BEPS discussions conclude and final reports are issued this year so that we reach good outcomes for the United States and U.S. companies and provide an atmosphere within which we can continue to work towards U.S. tax reform.”

The text of the letter is a below and a signed copy can be found here.

June 9, 2015

The Honorable Jacob Lew

Secretary of the Treasury

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

As the leaders of the Congressional tax-writing committees, we are writing to you about the need for the Treasury Department to remain engaged with Congress as you and your colleagues negotiate and develop proposals with member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others on fundamental changes in international tax rules under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project.

Congress is tasked with writing the tax laws of the United States, including those associated with cross-border activities of U.S. companies. Regardless of what the Treasury Department agrees to as part of the BEPS project, Congress will craft the tax rules that it believes work best for U.S. companies and the U.S. economy. Close consultation between Congress and the Treasury Department should inform the BEPS discussions. We expect that as we move forward on U.S. tax reform, U.S. tax policy will not be constrained by any concessions to other nations in the BEPS project to which Congress has not agreed.

As your BEPS discussions continue and proposals are considered, we strongly encourage you to continue engagement with us and to solicit input from the tax-writing committees. We have been monitoring, and continue to monitor, the BEPS project, and we understand the significance it carries in the global community and its potential impact on U.S. workers and their multinational employers. We stand ready to work with you as the BEPS discussions conclude and final reports are issued this year so that we reach good outcomes for the United States and U.S. companies and provide an atmosphere within which we can continue to work towards U.S. tax reform.

We appreciate some of the work that your team has done as part of the OECDs BEPS project, especially efforts to defend and advocate certain long-standing tax principles, such as the arms-length transfer-pricing standard. However, we are troubled by some positions the Treasury Department appears to be agreeing to as part of this project. For example, we are concerned about the country-by-country (CbC) reporting standards that will contain sensitive information related to a U.S. multinational’s group operations. We are also concerned that Treasury has appeared to agree that foreign governments will be able to collect the so-called “master file” information directly from U.S. multinationals without any assurances of confidentiality or that the information collection is needed. The master file contains information well beyond what could be obtained in public filings and that is even more sensitive for privately-held multinational companies. We are also concerned about interest-deductibility limitation proposals on the basis of questionable empirics and metrics.

Some recent press reports have indicated that the Treasury Department believes it currently has the authority under the Internal Revenue Code to require CbC reporting by certain U.S. companies and that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance on this reporting will be released later this year. We believe the authority to request, collect, and share this information with foreign governments is questionable. In addition, the benefits to the U.S. government from agreeing to these new reporting requirements are unclear, particularly since the IRS already has access to much of this information to administer U.S. tax laws. Therefore, we request that, before finalizing any decisions, the Treasury Department and IRS provide the tax-writing committees with a legal memorandum detailing its authority for requesting and collecting this CbC information from certain U.S. multinationals and master file information from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinationals. We also request that you provide a document: (i) identifying how the CbC reporting and other transfer pricing documentation obtained by the IRS on foreign multinationals operating in the United States will be utilized, and; (ii) providing the justification for agreeing that sensitive master file information on U.S. multinationals can be collected directly by foreign governments. In the event we do not receive such information, Congress will consider whether to take action to prevent the collection of the CbC and master file information.

We also have significant concerns about many of the provisions included in several other proposals of the BEPS project, including, among others, modifying the permanent establishment (PE) rules, using subjective general anti-abuse rules (GAAR) in tax treaties, and collecting even more sensitive data from U.S. companies to analyze and measure base erosion and profit shifting. These are but a few of the areas where we recommend that we work together to find consensus and identify a path forward for consideration as part of the BEPS negotiations and, if necessary, Congressional actions.

In the coming months, we look forward to working with you with respect to the BEPS project. In the interim, we want to remind the Treasury Department that it has the ability to refrain from signing on to the BEPS final reports, and we expect you to do just that if doing so protects the interests of the United States and of U.S. persons. Many of the OECD’s BEPS project objectives are sound, and international cooperation – as well as competition – in tax policies is desirable. We trust that you agree, however, that precipitous decisions to impose constraints on U.S. tax policy and added burdens on U.S. companies, especially on the basis of weak empirics and metrics, are not desirable.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters.

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