Tag Archive for OECD

Australia’s G20 Presidency To Target Transnational Enterprise Profit Shifting

A spokeswoman for Australia’s Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos has indicated that tax-base erosion and profit shifting will be a key focus of the G20 during Australia’s Presidency.

In this connection, speaking before he left for this week’s Davos conference, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “We want to … try to ensure we have less leaky national taxation systems”.

Commentators have variously encouraged the Prime Minister to push for the publication of taxable incomes of transnational companies by local tax authorities, seek a global solution to the perceived problem and to work within the OECD tax treaty framework to Read more

The United States Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC Rules): An Introduction

Commentators and practitioners often refer to the United States controlled foreign corporation statute (“CFC”) as extremely complex and Byzantine in their construction and application. I would agree with this assessment to a point; if someone is simply trying to learn the pure mechanics of the statute then, yes, it is very difficult to fathom. However, when one looks at the rules after understanding the underlying policy for their implementation and overall effect, the statutory scheme becomes easier to comprehend. So, let’s begin with an explanation of why the United States (and other developed, OECD countries) put these types of rules into place.

To begin we will need to know a few definitions from section 7701. A domestic corporation is Read more

The OECD v. Tax Havens: Part IV – The Digital Economy

The current tax rules underpinning practically every tax code around the globe are derived from a “bricks and mortar” or manufacturing based economy. What this means is the underlying concepts were developed when all world economies were based on building physical products that were bought and sold (think industrial revolution). For example, the tax treaty phrase “permanent establishment” was actually developed by League of Nation’s negotiators during their preliminary discussions to develop a working tax treaty framework. Compare this to today’s digital economy where “products” are actually multiple lines of computer code that exist in cyber-space (or a trademark or patented item) or where a “store front” (the old “permanent establishment”) is in fact a web site located halfway around the globe on a server in a tax haven. This mismatch between the underlying concepts of the old Read more

The OECD v. Tax Havens: Part III – New Concerns

On July 13, the OECD issued a new paper titled, Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The purpose of this paper was to outline the OECD’s new round of concerns regarding tax havens and their use in international tax planning. It is important to understand first what is behind the issuing of this new report:

Over time, the current rules have also revealed weaknesses that create opportunities for BEPS. BEPS relates chiefly to instances where the interaction of different tax rules leads to double non-taxation or less than single taxation.

One of the central purposes of the OECD’s original tax treaty was to divide taxing rights and Read more

The OECD v. Tax Havens, Part II: Initial Recommendations

As discussed in Part I, “What Is A Tax Haven“, the OECD originally went after tax havens in a 1998 document titled, Harmful Tax Competition, An Emerging Global Issue. They defined a tax haven as a low or no tax jurisdiction that employs secrecy and does not exchange information with other taxing officials. To counter-act the effect of havens, the OECD proposed a number of options. There are several that stand out.

Recommendation concerning Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFC) or equivalent rules: that countries that do not have such rules consider adopting them and that countries that have such rules ensure that they apply in a fashion consistent with the desirability of curbing harmful tax practices. Read more

OECD vs. Tax Havens, Part I: What Is A Tax Haven?

Recently, the OECD ramped up its conflict with tax havens by issuing a report titled, Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing. Obviously, the purpose of this report is to provide a set of options that OECD countries can enact to counter the negative impact of tax base erosion, or the shifting of tax revenue away from developed/higher tax countries to lower tax/tax havens. But before I get to the report, a bit of background is necessary to provide some context to the conflict.

First, how did tax havens develop? As I noted in a post I wrote on my economic blog about the Cyprus situation:

Read more

OECD Model Treaty Post Series – Permanent Establishment & Agents, Part II

Yesterday we looked at dependent agents and their ability on the treaty to create a permanent establishment for an enterprise. Today I’ll be looking at independent agents, which do not lead to the determination of a permanent establishment for tax purposes and hence do not create a tax presence.

The commentaries provide this general definition to begin the discussion:

37. A person will come within the scope of paragraph 6, i.e. he will not constitute a permanent establishment of the enterprise on whose behalf he acts only if

a) he is independent of the enterprise both legally and economically, and Read more

OECD Model Treaty Post Series – Agents – Part I

The permanent establishment section in the OECD Model Tax Treaty is a remarkably complete section; it anticipates the work-arounds that most attorney’s would consider to avoid PE status. Case in point: the agent rules.

Remember that a permanent establishment is “a fixed place of business through which the business of an enterprise is wholly or partly carried out. In seeing that definition, an attorney would start to think,” what if, instead of a bricks and mortar establishment, we contract with a person?” Well, the treaty has that covered as well.

5. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2, where a person — other than an Read more

OECD Model Treaty Post Series: Permanent Establishment, Part III

Continuing the look at the OECD Model Treaty’s definition of permanent establishment, we find the treaty specifically stating the following are PEs in Article 5, Section 2:

2. The term “permanent establishment” includes especially
a) a place of management;
b) a branch;
c) an office;
d) a factory;
e) a workshop, and
f) a mine, an oil or gas well, a quarry or any other place of extraction of natural resources. Read more

The OECD Model Tax Treaty – Permanent Establishment – Part II

Today I’m going to continue looking at the OECD model tax treaty’s definition of permanent establishment. Let me start with, Article 5, Section 2, which states:

2. The term “permanent establishment” includes especially:

a) a place of management;
b) a branch;
c) an office;
d) a factory;
e) a workshop, and
f) a mine, an oil or gas well, a quarry or any other place of extraction of natural resources. Read more

OECD Model Treaty Post Series – Permanent Establishment Part I

Today, I’m going to move forward and look at the OECD Model Treaty’s rules on permanent establishment. This is important for a simple reason: in order to exert its taxing rights over a transaction or individual, a jurisdiction must either prove the person/business is a resident (which we covered over the last few weeks) or prove the transaction took place within the jurisdiction’s borders. A permanent establishment is where a transaction occurs; hence the determination of a permanent establishment is of vital importance.

Let’s start with the basic definition: “For the purposes of this Convention, the term “permanent establishment” means a fixed place of business through which the business of an enterprise is wholly or partly carried on.” The commentary adds important, further clarification. Read more

OECD Model Treaty Post Series – Residence, Part II

Last week, I looked at the residence provisions of the OECD Model Tax Treaty for individuals. This week, I’ll take a look at the provisions for non-individuals.

Before moving forward, however, it is important to briefly diverge into an area of academic discussion: partnerships, and how the OECD treaty deals with these business entities. Under Article 1, the treaty applies to “persons who are residents of one or both of the contracting states.” This leads to the question of, “how does the treaty deal with a pass-through entity?” Is the entity actually a separate company or is the entity a collection of its partners? If the latter, how do we deal with that? While this might seem like an academic debate, in reality it’s not, as some jurisdictions treat these business entities in a very different manner. The debate went so far as to have the OECD issue a paper on this Read more

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