The European Commission has repeatedly expressed its ambition to implement the Two-Pillar agreement in a coherent and consistent way across Member States. On December 22, 2021, a mere two days after the Inclusive Framework released its Pillar Two package, the EC proposed a Directive to implement Pillar Two for large multinational groups operating in the European Union. The Directive would implement the GloBe Model rules only, leaving Pillar One for another time.

The proposal sets out how the effective tax rate will be calculated per jurisdiction, and includes binding rules that will ensure large groups in the EU pay a 15% minimum rate in every jurisdiction in which they operate. The design elements of the Directive consist of the OECD Model rules and the -still to be released-Commentary and detailed implementation guidance. The Commission proposes that the Directive be finalized by the middle of 2022 and transposed into national law in Member States and effective on January 1 ,2023. The timetable envisaged by the Commission is ambitious and raises an issue with regard to the OECD process. Indeed the explanatory Commentary is not scheduled to be released by the OECD before January or February and the implementation guidance will not be available until then end of 2022 or even early 2023.

It remains to be seen whether the EU is overly ambitious particularly in light of the fact that the US legislation that would implement Pillar Two is delayed and uncertain.

Continue Reading EU Sets Pillar Two In Motion

On December 20, 2021, the OECD released the Model Rules for Pillar Two or the “Global Anti-Base Erosion” (GloBE) Rules.[1] The GloBE Rules are the first step towards implementing the groundbreaking international agreement reached by more than 135 countries announced by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework in October 2021.[2] Pillar Two provides for a minimum 15% tax on corporate profits for multinational enterprises (MNEs) with more than EUR 750 million in consolidated revenues. Continue Reading The OECD’s Pillar Two Model Rules Have Arrived

In ancient Rome, a college of “augurs” would predict the future by observing the flight patterns of birds, examining the entrails of animal sacrifices, or interpreting natural phenomena. While perhaps less colorful, our method of divination will hopefully be a little more precise. To develop this blog post, we have consulted our own augurs and have summarized all our predictions for transfer pricing developments in the coming year.

Continue Reading Looking Forward: Predictions for 2022

Pillar Two, which ensures that an MNE’s in-scope income will be subject to a minimum tax rate of 15%, is ready to go. On December 2, the Model Rules were agreed upon within the OECD Inclusive Framework and the EU is willing to speed up Pillar Two implementation. The formal endorsement by the Inclusive Framework (IF) and release of the Model Rules to the public are expected next week. A week later, on December 22, the draft EU Directive should be available and a EU Council discussion is already planned during the first week of January 2022. With respect to the primary rule of Pillar Two, the Income Inclusion Rule (IIR), the contemplated EU directive would apply when an Ultimate Parent entity (UPE), an Intermediate Parent Entity (IPE) or a Partially Owned Parent Entity (POPE) is located in a EU Member State.

Continue Reading OECD Pillar Two: The EU Implementation on Its (Express) Way

On October 13, 2021, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors issued a Communiqué formally endorsing the political agreement reached by 136 countries of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (IF) on a two-pillar framework to dramatically change the taxation of multinational enterprises (MNEs). The  Communiqué calls on the IF “to swiftly develop the model rules and multilateral instruments. . .with a view to ensure that the new rules will come into effect at global level in 2023.” The Finance Ministers’ endorsement is an intermediate step concluded in anticipation of the G20’s full approval of the agreement to be considered at the next G20 meeting in Rome at the end of October.

As discussed in our recent Legal Update, the IF had announced the landmark 136-country agreement just five days earlier on October 8, 2021. Importantly, the agreement would reallocate $125 billion of annual profit to countries that would not otherwise tax such profits under current international tax norms and require that all profits be subject to a global minimum tax rate of 15%. To reallocate such profits, the agreement relies in large part on a new formulary taxing right called “Amount A.” Specifically, Amount A reallocates 25% of the residual profits (i.e., profits in excess of a 10% margin) of approximately 100 of the world’s largest and most profitable MNEs from the jurisdictions that currently earn the residual profits to the MNE’s market jurisdictions. While Amount A is an explicitly non-arm’s length allocation, it operates as an overlay rather than an override to the existing transfer pricing rules. This will likely create complex interactions between the new and existing rules that will put additional pressure on existing transfer pricing methodologies and create the potential for double taxation. This in turn will put added pressure on the new multilateral mandatory dispute resolution mechanism that the agreement contemplates will be put in place to resolve Amount A-related disputes.

Click here for the complete Legal Update.

On August 13, 2021, the IRS released a Chief Counsel Advice (“CCA”) (CCA 202132009) addressing the tax treatment of intercompany reimbursements of the Branded Prescription Drug (“BPD”) fee, a non-deductible excise tax imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on entities that manufacture or import branded prescription drugs for sale to specified government programs. The CCA concludes that intercompany reimbursements of the BPD fee are not per se excludable from gross income, but rather, the inclusion or exclusion of the reimbursement depends on whether the entity paying the fee was the beneficiary of the payment under the facts and circumstances. For pharmaceutical companies subject to the BPD fee, the CCA stops short of providing certainty that reimbursements of the fee are per se excludable, but nevertheless, offers useful guidance on how the reimbursements might be structured to support exclusion in many cases. Outside of the pharmaceutical industry, companies in other industries that pay and receive intercompany reimbursements of other material non-deductible costs may also find the CCA’s guidance to be instructive by analogy.

Continue Reading IRS CCA Addresses Intercompany Reimbursements of Branded Prescription Drug Fee: Guidance May be Relevant to Taxpayers Across Industries with Material Non-Deductible Expenses

On September 9, 2021, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued its Priority Guidance Plan for 2021-2022. The Priority Guidance Plan gives the public a sense of what regulations and other guidance the Treasury Department and the IRS might develop over the following 12 months. Among dozens of other pending and potential guidance projects, the Priority Guidance Plan lists the following two new potential section 482 regulations projects:

  • Regulations under §482 clarifying the effects of group membership (e.g., passive association) in determining arm’s length pricing, including specifically with respect to financial transactions.
  • Regulations under §482 further clarifying certain aspects of the arm’s length standard, including (1) coordination of the best method rule with guidance on specified methods for different categories of transactions, (2) discretion to determine the allocation of risk based on the facts and circumstances of transactions and arrangements, and (3) periodic adjustments.

Continue Reading Priority Guidance Plan Portends New Transfer Pricing Guidance

A recent Tax Notes article analyzes the “standard of review” that the Tax Court will apply to the IRS’s transfer pricing adjustments. In transfer pricing cases, the Tax Court determines whether the IRS has abused its discretion by proposing an adjustment that is “arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.” Although courts often describe this standard as a “heavy” burden for the taxpayer to prove, the Tax Notes article concludes that “recent experience suggest[s] that taxpayers and the IRS are on mostly even ground in transfer pricing litigation.”

We won’t comment on that conclusion in this blog post, although we encourage anyone interested in the intersection between transfer pricing and court procedure to read the article.

We do, however, want to point out that there is at least one area where our experience tells us that the standard of review really might matter: in dealings with IRS personnel. While the IRS has indeed lost many transfer pricing cases, the IRS has always had considerable leverage at administrative levels (e.g., in audit or before Appeals) and in settlement discussions in litigation. No matter whether a court practically puts the IRS and taxpayers “on mostly even ground,” the IRS continues to believe (or at least argue) that the abuse-of-discretion standard of review gives the government the advantage. This could in some cases make IRS agents, Appeals officers, and IRS trial counsel less willing to resolve transfer pricing controversies on terms that are favorable to the taxpayer. It could also mean that IRS personnel will make arguments about the standard of review, which the taxpayer will need to address. Even if IRS personnel are not justified in their thinking, the standard of review does have practical significance in that sense, at least in our experience.

On August 5, 2021, the OECD released updated Peer Review Results for preferential tax regimes reviewed by the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (“FHTP”) in connection with BEPS Action 5. Of particular interest to Multinational Enterprises (“MNEs”), the Peer Review Results report that the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) regime is already “in the process of being eliminated” and that “the United States has committed to abolish this regime.”

The possibility that FDII might be repealed should come as no surprise given the Biden Administration’s Green Book proposal to eliminate FDII. And in any event, the repeal cannot actually take effect until and unless FDII is repealed by legislation. Nevertheless, for MNEs that would be adversely affected by the possible repeal, the references in the Peer Review Results send a strong signal that FDII repeal may be a key priority in future tax reform negotiations.

Continue Reading Whither FDII — OECD Discusses FDII in Harmful Tax Practices Update

Many taxpayers are familiar with information document requests where taxpayers are notified that taxing authorities are inquiring into certain transactions based on their receipt of the request. But today, many types of foreign tax information exchanges occur without the taxpayer’s knowledge. Moreover, tax administrations around the world are expanding tax information exchange programs. For example, on May 19, 2021, the European Union (“EU”) approved a measure to spend an additional € 270 million to improve national information exchange programs with a particular emphasis on upgrading information technology systems and financing joint audits.

Taxpayers should: 1) refresh themselves on the major types of tax information exchanges, 2) know how that information is used, and 3) be prepared that anything they provide to one tax administration could likely end up in the hands of another. Continue Reading No Secrets are Safe in an Era of Global Tax Information Exchange