New CAAs on Exchange of CbC Reports Pushes Total to 20

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August 24, 2017

The IRS has concluded competent authority arrangements (“CAAs”) for the exchange of country-by-country (“CbC”) reports with Australia and the United Kingdom.  The CAA with Australia was signed in Australia on July 14 and by the United States on August 1.  The CAA with the United Kingdom was signed on August 16.  The new arrangements bring the number of CAAs for the exchange of CbC reports to 20. The CAAs for the exchange of CbC reports generally require the competent authorities of the foreign country and the United States to exchange annually, on an automatic basis, CbC reports received from each reporting entity that is a tax resident in its jurisdiction, provided that one or more constituent entities of the reporting entity’s group is a tax resident in the other jurisdiction, or is subject to tax with respect to the business carried out through a permanent establishment in the other jurisdiction.

In the United States, CbC reporting is required for U.S. persons that are the ultimate parent entity of a multinational enterprise (“MNE”) with revenue of $850 million or more in the preceding accounting year, for reporting years beginning on or after June 30, 2016, under the IRS’s final regulations issued last summer (see prior coverage).  Reporting entities must file a new Form 8975 (“Country by Country Report”) and Schedule A to Form 8975 (“Tax Jurisdiction and Constituent Entity Information”).  In Revenue Procedure 2017-23, the IRS announced that U.S. MNEs may voluntarily file Form 8975 with the IRS for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2016, and before June 30, 2016.  U.S. MNEs that do not voluntarily file with the IRS may be subject to CbC reporting in foreign jurisdictions in which they have constituent entities.

A CAA generally must be in force with a foreign jurisdiction for CbC reports filed with the IRS by a U.S. MNE to satisfy the CbC reporting requirements under foreign law.  This has raised concerns about the pace at which the IRS has concluded CAA negotiations with foreign jurisdictions.  Many foreign jurisdictions that have adopted CbC reporting requirements under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action 13 have done so with respect to reporting years beginning on or after January 1, 2016.  Most of those countries have signed a multilateral CAA, but the United States has chosen instead to pursue bilateral CAAs with each foreign jurisdiction—likely due to U.S. concerns regarding the use of the information contained in the CbC reports and potential public disclosure of the information.  The U.S. CAAs are substantially similar to the multilateral CAA, but numerous foreign jurisdictions have not yet signed a bilateral CAA with the IRS, including China, France, Germany, Mexico, and Japan.

The IRS maintains a status table of foreign jurisdictions on its CbC Reporting page.  With voluntary reporting for early reporting periods set to begin on September 1, U.S. MNEs should monitor continuing developments to determine whether delays in the U.S. CAA process may necessitate the filing of CbC reports in foreign jurisdictions.

IRS Releases Five CbC Reporting Agreements

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June 9, 2017

The IRS has released the first set of competent authority arrangements (CAAs) for the automatic exchange of country-by-country (CbC) reports, with Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa.  These CAAs are implemented under Action 13 of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, requiring jurisdictions to exchange standardized CbC reports beginning in 2018.  Specifically, under the OECD’s Guidance (see prior coverage regarding recent updates), multinational enterprise (MNE) groups with $750 million Euros or a near equivalent amount in domestic currency must report revenue, profit or loss, capital and accumulated earnings, and number of employees for each country in which they operate.  These CbC reports will assist each jurisdiction’s tax authorities to identify the bases of economic activity for each of these companies, in order to combat tax base erosion and profit shifting.

The CAAs are substantially similar, and each requires the competent authorities of the foreign country and the United States to exchange annually, on an automatic basis, CbC reports received from each reporting entity that is a tax resident in its jurisdiction, provided that one or more constituent entities of the reporting entity’s group is a tax resident in the other jurisdiction, or is subject to tax with respect to the business carried out through a permanent establishment in the other jurisdiction.  Each competent authority is to notify the other competent authority when it has reason to believe that CbC reporting is incorrect or incomplete or the reporting entity did not comply with its CbC reporting obligations under domestic law.

The CAAs provide an aggressive implementation schedule.  Generally, a CbC report is intended to be first exchanged with respect to fiscal years of MNEs commencing on or after January 1, 2016 (or January 1, 2017 in the case of Iceland).  This CbC report is intended to be exchanged as soon as possible and no later than 18 months after the last day of the MNE’s fiscal year to which the report relates.  For fiscal years of MNEs commencing on or after January 1, 2017 (or January 1, 2018 in the case of Iceland), the CbC reports are intended to be exchanged as soon as possible and no later than 15 months after the last day of the fiscal year.

In the United States, CbC reporting is required for U.S. persons that are the ultimate parent entity of a MNE with revenue of $850 million or more in the preceding accounting year, for taxable years beginning on or after June 30, 2016, under the IRS’s final regulations issued last summer (see prior coverage).  Reporting entities must file a new Form 8975, the “Country by Country Report,” which the IRS is currently developing.

We will provide updates upon the release of additional CAAs, the Form 8975, and OECD guidance on CbC reporting.

OECD Issues Array of Guidance on Country-by-Country Reporting and Automatic Exchange of Tax Information

In an effort to help jurisdictions implement consistent domestic rules that align with recent guidance issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the OECD issued a series of guidance to further explain its country-by-country (CbC) reporting, most importantly by clarifying certain terms and defining the accounting standards that apply under the regime.  Each of these efforts relate to Action 13 of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, which applies to tax information reporting of multinational enterprise (MNE) groups.  CbC reporting aims to eliminate tax avoidance by multinational companies by requiring MNE groups to report certain indicators of the MNE group’s economic activity in each country and allowing the tax authorities to share that information with one another.  For additional background on CbC reporting, please see our prior coverage.

The most substantial piece of the OECD’s new guidance is an update to the OECD’s “Guidance on the Implementation of Country-by-Country Reporting–BEPS Action 13.”  The update clarifies: (1) the definition of the term “revenues”; (2) the accounting principles and standards for determining the existence of and membership in a “group”; (3) the definition of “total consolidated group revenue”; (4); the treatment of major shareholdings; and (5) the definition of the term “related parties.”  Specifically with respect to accounting standards, if equity interests of the ultimate parent entity of the group are traded on a public securities exchange, domestic jurisdictions should require that the MNE group be determined using the consolidation rules of the accounting standards already used by the group.  However, if equity interests of the ultimate parent entity of the group are not traded on a public securities exchange, domestic jurisdictions may allow the group to choose to use either (i) local generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) of the ultimate parent entity’s jurisdiction or (ii) international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

To further define its Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for exchanging tax information, the OECD also issued twelve new frequently asked questions on the application of the standard.

Finally, the OECD issued a second edition of its Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, which contains an expanded XML Schema (see prior coverage for additional information), used to electronically report MNE group information in a standardized format.

IRS Negotiating CbC Information Exchange Agreements

The IRS is engaging in negotiations with individual countries to implement country-by-country (CbC) reporting according to Douglas O’Donnell, Commissioner of IRS’s Large Business and International Division.  In a March 10 speech at the Pacific Rim Tax Institute that, he clarified that the IRS is only negotiating with jurisdictions that have both an information exchange instrument and adequate information safeguards.  Mr. O’Donnell did not provide a definitive timeline for those negotiations, but he said that they would be completed in a timely manner.  The IRS’s approach to negotiating information exchange agreements is consistent with the United States’ existing approach to negotiating IGAs and related agreements under FATCA.

Companies are anxiously awaiting the agreements, as they could face reporting obligations in certain jurisdictions with which the United States does not have agreements in place, causing them to potentially prepare multiple CbC reports. Companies are also urging the IRS to release information on the expected scope of the U.S. information exchange network, as lack of knowledge on the scope could negatively impact companies’ ability to do business in certain countries if the companies do not comply with local filing requirements.

These information exchange agreements arise from recent recommendations provided by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) (additional information on OECD guidance on CbC reporting available here) on jurisdictions with respect to information on multinational corporations, requiring jurisdictions to exchange such information in a standardized format beginning in 2018 (please see prior post for additional background).  The IRS released final regulations in June 2016 imposing CbC reporting on U.S. persons that are the ultimate parent entity of a multinational enterprise group with revenue exceeding $850 million in the preceding accounting year (prior coverage).

OECD Seeks Additional Proposals on Treaty Benefits for Non-CIV Funds

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March 25, 2016

On March 24, 2016, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a consultation document soliciting public comments regarding treaty entitlement of non-collective investment vehicle (non-CIV) funds. While collective investment vehicle funds are defined under the 2010 OECD Report and are entitled to treaty benefits subject to specific rules, commenters have sought treaty benefits for non-CIVs, which have yet to be defined.

The consultation document states that the OECD will continue to examine policy considerations regarding treaty entitlement of non-CIV funds. Further, the OECD plans to address two key concerns of OECD members about granting treaty benefits with respect to non-CIV funds. In particular, these concerns are that non-CIV funds should not be used to obtain treaty benefits for investors not otherwise entitled to such benefits and that investors should not be able to defer recognition of income on treaty benefits that have been granted.

The consultation document also asks commenters to clarify how non-CIV funds work, e.g., what types of vehicles would be defined as non-CIV funds; whether these funds are able to determine the identities and tax-residences of the beneficial owners; what is the intermediary-level tax; and at what point would taxation occur. In particular, the consultation document focuses on proposals concerning the impact on non-CIV funds of new limitation on benefits (LOB) rules, the principal purpose test, anti-conduit rules, and special tax regimes. Regarding the LOB rules, the document raised questions to commenters’ requests that: (a) treaty benefits be granted to regulated and/or widely-held non-CIV funds; (b) non-CIV funds be allowed to elect treatment as fiscally transparent entities for treaty purposes; (c) certain non-CIV funds be granted treaty benefits where a large proportion of the investors would be entitled to the same or better benefits; (d) the LOB rules not deny benefits to a non-CIV resident of a State with which the non-CIV has a sufficiently substantial connection; and (e) a “Global Streamed Fund” regime be adopted.

Fundamental objectives of the OECD include combating international tax avoidance and evasion by preventing multinationals from artificially shifting profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions and developing and encouraging the promulgation of clear guidance that identifies which country’s tax should apply under particular arrangements. The OECD’s analysis of how non-CIV funds should be taxed is part and parcel of this core mission.

Need for Increased Understanding of Multinational Corporate Structures Leads to Electronic Country-by-Country Reporting

In order to increase understanding of the ways in which multinational corporations structure their operations, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) will require jurisdictions to exchange such information in a standardized format beginning in 2018.  Specifically, multinational corporations must report revenue, profit or loss, capital and accumulated earnings, and number of employees for each country in which they operate.  Each jurisdiction’s tax administration uses these reports to identify the bases of economic activity for each of these companies, with the goal being to limit tax base erosion and profit shifting.  The tax administrations then exchange the reports, a process that the OECD hopes to streamline through use of this standardized format.

The new reporting template, named the “CbC XML Schema,” applies to corporations with annual consolidated revenue of at least €750 million (US$842 million) in the immediately preceding fiscal year.  The template will apply to all countries that have adopted the multilateral competent authority agreement (MCAA) on the exchange of country-by-country reports, which currently includes thirty-two countries.  Notably, the United States has not signed the agreement, but it intends to implement country-by-country reporting through bilateral agreements.  Although the primary purpose of the reports will be inter-jurisdictional, corporations may also rely on the report for domestic reporting purposes, so long as the report is mandated domestically.