After Altera’s victory in Tax Court in 2015,[1] many companies with cost sharing arrangements (“CSA”) ceased sharing stock-based compensation (“SBC”) costs. To address the possibility of a reversal on appeal, many of these companies added reverse claw-back provisions to their CSAs. Under these provisions, in the year a reversal of Altera becomes final, the US participant typically “claws back” from the foreign participants the amount of SBC costs not shared in prior years (the “claw-back true-up”). The effect is a large inclusion of SBC costs into the US participant’s income in the year the reversal becomes final.

These reverse claw-back provisions were revisited by companies in 2019, when the Ninth Circuit reversed the Tax Court, and in 2020, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Altera’s appeal.[2] Companies were concerned about whether the IRS would respect the provisions or insist that adjustments be made year-by-year. Should taxpayers report the claw-back amount in 2020, or amend prior year returns to include the SBC costs in the cost pool for each open year, or modify the CSA to defer or cancel the payment pending IRS guidance? On July 13, 2021, the IRS provided guidance on these questions, in the form of a Chief Counsel Memorandum, AM-2021-004 (the “CCM”).

Continue Reading IRS Memo on 482 Adjustments for CSAs with Reverse Claw-Back Provisions

On July 10, 2021, the G20 endorsed a broad framework to advance Pillars One and Two, which includes an aggressive timetable for bringing the new rules into force in 2023. The endorsement came in a Communiqué, which approved the July 1 statement by the 139-country Inclusive Framework. The G20 agreement represents a political consensus on a substantial revision to global tax policy.

As discussed in our recent article, there is still much work to do to flesh out the details of the framework. Moreover, there is considerable skepticism as to whether a final agreement can be reached, whether it can be implemented legislatively in the United States and abroad, and whether countries that have enacted (or are considering enacting) digital services taxes (DSTs) and similar unilateral measures will find the proposed framework sufficiently revenue-generating to repeal their DSTs.

Click here for the complete article.

On July 15, we will be hosting a webinar to discuss these important developments, together with an analysis of the US President Biden administration’s international tax proposals that complement the G20 agreement.

For over a decade, countries have been looking for ways to tax the digital economy. On July 1, 130 countries announced an agreement that would provide a new taxing right to enable a country to tax a portion of digital profits even in the absence of traditional taxable nexus with the country. This new taxing right is known as “Amount A”. The quantum of Amount A remained a mystery until the publication of the OECD’s “Statement on a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising From the Digitalisation of the Economy” on July 1, 2021 (the “Statement”) which quantified Amount A to be “between 20-30% of residual profit defined as profit in excess of 10% of revenue” for in-scope enterprises. Although this quantum of Amount A represents a political compromise, a solid theoretical basis underlying that compromise is essential to sustaining consensus.

The early proposals to modify profit allocation and nexus rules for the digital economy enterprises, which ultimately produced Amount A, strived to be based on certain subjective criteria, including the concepts of user participation, marketing intangibles and/or the concept of significant economic presence. The contemplated methods for profit allocation were the Modified Residual Profit Split method, Fractional Apportionment method, and Distribution-based approaches, along with the options for business line and regional segmentation. However, the criteria and methods of the early proposals are nowhere to be found to found in the OECD July 2021 Statement, leaving many questions about Amount A still unanswered. While the final compromise on Pillar One eliminates the focus on digital economy and shifts instead to high profitability when defining in-scope MNEs, the “digital essence” still surrounds Amount A. For one thing, the introduction to the Statement continues to refer to the “two-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.” Moreover, a widely accepted assumption in the final Pillar One negotiations is that high profits are generated by intangibles and those are increasingly concentrated with digital businesses. Therefore, an analysis of Amount A cannot be divorced from the analysis of the factors that contribute to the digital economy.

Continue Reading The Elusive “Amount A”

On June 5, 2021, the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7 countries issued a Communiqué announcing their agreement on the conceptual framework for a substantial revision to global tax policy (the “Communiqué”). The Communiqué puts the G7’s stamp of approval on recent efforts by the OECD (supported by a big push by the Biden administration) toward finalizing the broad architecture of the OECD’s Pillar One and Two models. The Communiqué will form the basis of continued negotiations by the Inclusive Framework (IF) on June 30 and July 1, followed by final negotiations by the G20, which meets on July 9 and 10, at which time the G7 hopes that a final agreement will be reached.

But there is still much work to do to flesh out the details of the framework. In our recent article, we unpack the Communique’s discussion on taxes and provide our perspective on what has been agreed to and our observations on what issues remain and whether they can be resolved.

Click here for the complete article.

Also, on July 15, we will be hosting a webinar to discuss these developments and an analysis of the Biden administration’s international tax proposals that complement some of the G7 proposals.

As discussed in prior blog posts, Amount A will apply as an overlay to the existing profit allocation rules. As the profit of an MNE group is already allocated under the existing profit allocation rules, a mechanism to reconcile the new taxing right (calculated at the level of a group or segment) and the existing profit allocation rules (calculated at an entity basis) is necessary to prevent double taxation.  This is the purpose of the mechanism to eliminate double taxation from Amount A. To reconcile the two profit allocation systems, it identifies which entity or entities within an MNE group bears the Amount A tax liability, which effectively determines which jurisdiction or jurisdictions need to relieve the double taxation arising from Amount A. This mechanism is based on two components: (i) the identification of the paying entity or entities within an MNE group or segment; and (ii) the methods to eliminate double taxation.

Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Elimination of Double Taxation

In the dawn years of transfer pricing, when the bulk of international trade focused on tangible goods, relatively little attention was devoted to the analysis of transactions involving services.  The 1968 U.S. Treasury Regulations governing intercompany services focused on the allocation and apportionment of costs with respect to services undertaken for the benefit of the related parties, roughly in line with the current Services Cost Method, and provided a high level discussion of the services that were an integral part of the business activity of a member of a controlled group without elaborating on the methods to be used to test compliance with the arm’s length standard (Section 1.482-2(b) (1968)).  In the 1995 Transfer Pricing Guidelines from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”), the analysis of pricing of intracompany services occupied a mere 15 pages.  In the mid-2000s, there was a renewed focus on the pricing of intercompany services.  First to the stage were the U.S. Treasury Regulations in Section 1.482-9 promulgated in August of 2009, followed by several International Practice Units in 2014 through 2017, and then by the OECD with a revised Chapter VII in the 2017 OECD Guidelines.  The increased attention is not surprising:  over the last 20 years, from 1999 to 2019, the growth of trade in services far outpaced that of tangible goods (215% vs 137% for exports and 199% vs 143% for imports), with particularly robust performance in maintenance and repair, financial, and business services. Continue Reading Intercompany Services: The Next Frontier of Transfer Pricing Disputes

Assume the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is auditing your company’s transfer pricing. The administrative process is starting to break down, and it looks as if the IRS might assert a sizeable income adjustment. What is your duty to save documents for a potential upcoming court case?

Continue Reading Document Preservation for Transfer Pricing Litigation: What You Need to Know

In February 2021, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) issued a handbook linked with the official roll-out of its International Compliance Assurance Programme (“ICAP”). ICAP was first  introduced as a pilot in January 2018 (“ICAP 1.0”) as a voluntary program where MNE groups may receive “comfort and assurance” from multiple tax administrations as to the veracity of the MNE group’s transfer pricing allocations and numerous types of international transactions. While some notable countries did not participate in ICAP 1.0 (for example, Germany), the pilot program received positive reviews by a number of MNE groups. In March 2020, the OECD enhanced the pilot program (“ICAP 2.0”) to encourage more countries to join. On March 22, 2021, the OECD announced an initial list of twenty countries that are participating in the official program.[1]

Continue Reading ICAP, a New Tool in the Multiverse of Multinational Tax Dispute Management

The headline news about the U.S. Tax Court’s decision on the value of Michael Jackson’s estate might have been a shock to some – or, perhaps, to many. The King of Pop’s inflation-adjusted earnings since his death in 2009, according to the Forbes magazine, were $2.1 billion. His annual earnings in 2016 were $825 million, the highest single-year payday ever recorded by a front-of-camera celebrity. And yet his image and likeness at the time of his death was valued at a meager $4 million by the U.S. Tax Court.

Continue Reading What Are You Worth?

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) has issued transfer pricing guidance for centralized activities of multinational enterprise (“MNE”) groups in Singapore to assist taxpayers in analysing such activities between related parties and identifying factors that may affect transfer prices for these activities and the transfer pricing methods that may be appropriate.

The guidance (in the form of a so called e-Tax Guide, which the IRAS issues from time to time in order to express its views and policies on certain matters to taxpayers) is important considering that Singapore is being adopted as a destination by a significant number of MNEs for housing their global as well as regional headquarters (“HQ”). The e-Tax Guide aims to analyse potential inter-company transactions that may be carried out by MNEs through their Singapore-based HQ and discusses the approach to determine the arm’s length price in respect of such transactions.

Continue Reading Singapore’s Transfer Pricing Guidance for Centralized Activities of MNEs