BEPS Approaches Key Milestone

Riga, Latvia, September 17, 2014, 10:00 / Industry News / Jurisdiction: OECD, Source: tax-news.com

On July 3, 2014, New Zealand’s Revenue Minister Todd McClay revealed that the OECD has agreed the final recommendations for the first set of actions to tackle base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) by multinational enterprises, which are due to be finalised in September. So as the BEPS project approaches a crucial juncture, this feature summarises key developments in its brief history.

Although the “Addressing BEPS” report acknowledged that cross-border businesses may suffer as a result of badly constructed international tax rules which can result in the double taxation of income, the BEPS Action Plan produced by the OECD in July 2013 for the G20 dealt more with the question of how to stop the double non-taxation of multinationals’ income occurring in the future.

The Action Plan contained 15 specific actions designed to give governments the domestic and international mechanisms to prevent corporations from paying little or no taxes, as follows:

  • Action 1: Address the challenges of the digital economy
  • Action 2: Neutralize the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements
  • Action 3: Strengthen controlled foreign company rules
  • Action 4: Limit base erosion via interest deductions and other financial payments
  • Action 5: Counter harmful tax practices more effectively, taking into account transparency and substance
  • Action 6: Prevent treaty abuse
  • Action 7: Prevent the artificial avoidance of PE status
  • Action 8: Assure that transfer pricing outcomes are in line with value creation/intangibles
  • Action 9: Assure that transfer pricing outcomes are in line with value creation/risks and capital
  • Action 10: Assure that transfer pricing outcomes are in line with value creation/risks and capital
  • Action 11: Establish methodologies to collect and analyze data on BEPS and the actions to address it
  • Action 12: Require taxpayers to disclose their aggressive tax planning arrangements
  • Action 13: Re-examine transfer pricing documentation
  • Action 14: Make dispute resolution mechanisms more effective
  • Action 15: Develop a multilateral instrument

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said that the Action Plan "marks a turning point in the history of international tax co-operation. It will allow countries to draw up the coordinated, comprehensive and transparent standards they need to prevent BEPS. International tax rules, many of them dating from the 1920s, ensure that businesses don't pay taxes in two countries - double taxation. This is laudable, but unfortunately these rules are now being abused to permit double non-taxation. The Action Plan aims to remedy this, so multinationals also pay their fair share of taxes."

The Action Plan’s timetable is extremely tight. The OECD anticipates that the 15 actions will be finalised in three stages: September 2014, September 2015 and December 2015. Since the OECD wants the BEPS project wrapped up by the end of next year, this will leave just over a year for some potentially fundamental tax changes to be implemented across the world.

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