OECD Releases Final Measures on Tax Avoidance

The final package of base erosion and profit-shifting measures includes new minimum standards on country-by-country reporting.
Katie Kuehner-HebertOctober 5, 2015
OECD Releases Final Measures on Tax Avoidance

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Monday released 15 recommendations for combating corporate tax avoidance as part of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project. The measures included instituting country-by-country reporting, clamping down on “treaty shopping,” and putting an end to “double non-taxation.”

“BEPS is depriving countries of precious resources to jump-start growth, tackle the effects of the global economic crisis, and create more and better opportunities for all,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said in a press release. “But beyond this, BEPS has been also eroding the trust of citizens in the fairness of tax systems worldwide. The measures we are presenting today represent the most fundamental changes to international tax rules in almost a century: they will put an end to double non-taxation, facilitate a better alignment of taxation with economic activity and value creation, and when fully implemented, these measures will render BEPS-inspired tax planning structures ineffective.”

The final package of BEPS measures includes new minimum standards on country-by-country reporting, which for the first time will give tax administrations a global picture of the operations of multinational enterprises; treaty shopping, to put an end to the use of conduit companies to channel investments; curbing harmful tax practices, in particular in the area of intellectual property and through automatic exchange of tax rulings; and effective mutual agreement procedures, to ensure that the fight against double non-taxation does not result in double taxation.

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The OECD on Thursday will present the BEPS measures to G20 Finance Ministers during the meeting hosted by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Cevdet Yilmaz in Lima, Peru.

Pascal Saint-Amans, the director of the OECD’s tax policy center, told reporters at a press conference on Friday in advance of the plan’s release that his group’s proposals were largely consistent with American efforts to overhaul its corporate tax system, according to The Hill. Saint-Amans said that many members of Congress also have a problem with the U.S. tax code’s “major international loopholes.”

“But both Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan have said they’re worried about the BEPS project,” The Hill wrote. “The two chairmen have questioned whether [the] Treasury [department] has the authority to implement the country-by-country reporting methods, and say they’re concerned that other countries will simply use BEPS to grab revenue from U.S. multinationals.”

KPMG’s national leader of international tax Manal Corwin on Monday issued a statement that multinational companies should now “shift into high gear” to prepare for the OECD recommendations becoming compliance requirements.

“Companies throughout the world will need to pay close attention to how the demand for increased tax transparency and reporting and other BEPS recommendations will impact their organizations, particularly with regard to their reputation, financial reporting, and operations,” Corwin said.

“The consequences of the rule changes will present a wide range of challenges for businesses. Putting BEPS considerations high on an organization’s agenda should place it in the best position to prepare for change, help mitigate risk, and respond to the multi-year impact of the OECD initiative.”

Shee also expressed concern that the final recommendations may not be implemented in a way that would be consistent with “the intended consensus.”

“Near term, there is a significant risk of greater uncertainty and potential for increased controversy,” Corwin said. “In this regard, meaningful progress on Action Item 14, which focuses on improving access to and effectiveness of dispute resolution, will be essential. In particular, securing broad-based support for mandatory binding arbitration to resolve disputes would be a monumental and important achievement of the overall initiative.”