The Rise of Reform

2013 saw the G20 & the OECD join forces to create a set of rules to help governments clamp down on tax avoidance strategies. Recommendations to reform the global tax system, prioritising the notion of substance and driving greater transparency on a global level.

15 action points were included in the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project released in 2015. Such reforms are now being utilised by authorities around the world. However, it is important to note that several actions are having greater importance placed upon them. In addition, certain countries are pushing ahead with their implementation at a faster rate than many others.

Action 1

Tax challenges arising from digitalisation

Action 2

Neutralising the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements

Action 3

Controlled Foreign Company

Action 4

Limitation on interest deductions

Action 5

Harmful tax practices

Action 6

Prevention of tax treaty abuse

Action 7

Permanent establishment status

Action 8-10

Transfer Pricing

Action 11

BEPS data analysis

Action 12

Mandatory Disclosure Rules

Action 13

Country-by-Country Reporting

Action 14

Mutual Agreement Procedure

Action 15

Multilateral Instrument

Action 13 has received the most attention. The OECD has recommended that all multinationals must adopt greater transparency through the creation of country-by-country reports with aggregate data on the global allocation of income, profit, taxes paid and economic activity across the markets they serve.

Research has shown that there is a link between GDP and the countries who are adopting these strategies, with the US, China and much of Western Europe leading from the front.

Several of the South American countries and much of Asia have been slower in implementing reforms. Their involvement in the OECD’s “inclusive framework” agreement does, however, request they meet the minimum standards set (Actions 5, 6, 13 & 14).

The tax landscape is continually evolving, which brings a fresh set of challenges for today’s senior tax leaders, especially when considering the release of BEPS 2.0 earlier this year (January 29th). Globalisation, digitalisation and the increased media scrutiny placed on companies means controversy is ever-present. The evolution of local rules is continual, and we expect 2020 to be no different with numerous reforms taking place. Ensuring the function is best prepared to meet the increased demands of authorities is a continual challenge.

Tax functions must, therefore, consider their current tax strategy whilst ensuring they have developed a sustainable framework to ensure a cooperative relationship is in place with authorities. In addition, ensuring the function has a blend of skills, notably those with digital experience, who can understand and produce real-time data will help safeguard the function for the year ahead.

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