On April 15, 2020, OECD released the report titled “Tax and Fiscal Policy in Response to the Coronavirus Crisis: Strengthening Confidence and Resilience” (the “COVID-19 Response”). The COVID-19 Response discussed the decisive action many governments have taken to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus and to limit the adverse impacts on their citizens
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…
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…
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
The Pillar One revenue sourcing rules determine the revenue that would be treated as deriving from a particular market jurisdiction. The rules would be relevant in applying the scope rules, the nexus rules and the Amount A formula. The sourcing rules are reflective of particularities of Automated Digital Services (ADS) and Consumer Facing Businesses (CFB) and more broadly were designed to balance the need for accuracy with the ability of in-scope MNEs to comply, without incurring disproportionate compliance costs. This is proposed to be achieved through the articulation of sourcing principles, supported by a range of specific indicators, subject to a defined hierarchy (likely to be of particular importance in connection with third party distribution). This approach of providing a range of possible indicators within the hierarchy recognizes the different ways MNEs currently collect information in the context of their business model, while still providing certainty to MNEs and tax administrations that the defined set of acceptable specified indicators can be relied upon to provide acceptable outcomes.
To source the relevant in-scope revenue to a market jurisdiction, a sourcing principle would be identified for each type of in-scope revenue, accompanied by a list of acceptable specific indicators an MNE will use to apply the principle and identify the jurisdiction of source. For example, for the direct sale of consumer goods, the principle would be to source the revenue based on the jurisdiction of final delivery of the goods to the consumer, and the acceptable indicator would be the jurisdiction of the retail store front where the consumer good is sold or shipping address.
The acceptable indicators would be organized in a hierarchy. The MNE should generally use the indicator that is first in the hierarchy, as this will be the most accurate. However, an MNE may use an alternative indicator that appears second in the hierarchy, if the first indicator was not reasonably available or if the MNE can justify that the first indicator was unreliable, and so on with the remaining indicators. This approach is intended to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to accommodate the different ways that MNEs collect information. Information would be considered unreliable if it is not within the MNE’s possession, and reasonable steps have been taken to obtain it but have been unsuccessful. Information would be considered unreliable if the MNE can justify that the indicator is not a true representation of the principle in the source rule.
The MNE would need to justify and document its approach and include it in the standardized documentation package to be developed as part of the broader work on tax certainty. It is expected that an in-scope MNE would need to retain documentation describing the functioning of its internal control framework related to revenue sourcing, containing aggregate and periodic information on results of applying the indicators for each type of revenue and in each jurisdiction, and explaining the indicator used and, if relevant, why a secondary indicator was applied instead (such as the steps taken to obtain information or why a primary indicator was considered unreliable).Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Revenue Sourcing Rules
The new taxing right established through Amount A of Pillar One only applies to those multinational entity (MNE) groups that fall within the defined scope of Amount A. The scope of Amount A is based on two elements: an activity test and a threshold test.
According to the OECD, the definition of the scope responds to the need to revisit taxing rules in response to a changed economy. The existing international tax rules generally attach a taxing right to profits derived from a physical presence in a jurisdiction. However, given globalization and the digitalization of the economy, the OECD believes that businesses can, with or without the benefit of local operations, participate in an active and sustained manner in the economic life of a market jurisdiction through engagement extending beyond the mere conclusion of sales, in order to increase the value of their products, their sales and their profits.Continue Reading Tax Challenges Arising From Digitalisation, Report on the OECD’S Pillar One Blueprint: Scope of Amount A
Just in time for the holidays, the OECD has published detailed guidance about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transfer pricing. The guidance has useful information for taxpayers and tax administrations alike. It contains general advice on the application of basic transfer pricing principles during the pandemic, as well as specific advice on four issues: (i) comparability analyses, (ii) allocating losses, (iii) government-assistance programs, and (iv) advance pricing arrangements (“APAs”). The OECD guidance is broadly consistent with comments we made in a prior post about the impact of the pandemic on transfer pricing.
Continue Reading OECD Guidance on Pandemic’s Impact on Transfer Pricing
Addressing the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy has been a top priority of the OECD since 2015. In January 2019, the OECD agreed to examine proposals in two pillars. Pillar One is focused on nexus and profit allocation whereas Pillar Two is focused on global minimum tax. In July 2020 the OECD was mandated to produce reports on the Blueprints of Pillar One and Pillar Two by October 2020.
According to the OECD, in an increasingly digital age, businesses are able to generate profits through participation in the economic life of a jurisdiction with or without the benefit of a local physical presence, and this should be reflected in the design of nexus rules. The Pillar One Blueprint proposes to allocate a portion of residual profit of in-scope businesses to market or user jurisdictions (“Amount A”) generally without regard to physical presence.
Continue Reading Tax Challenges Arising from Digitalisation, Report on the OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Executive Summary