On July 19, 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“O.E.C.D.”) released its full Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (the “B.E.P.S. Action Plan”), with expectations to roll out specific items over the subsequent two years. According to the O.E.C.D., the B.E.P.S. Action Plan will allow countries to draft coordinated, comprehensive, and transparent standards that governments need to prevent B.E.P.S., while at the same time updating the current rules to reflect modern business practices. Of the 15 action items listed in the B.E.P.S. Action Plan, four relate specifically to transfer pricing and several others indirectly address this area, as well. The four with direct impact on transfer pricing are Action Items 8, 9, 10, and 13:
- Action Items 8, 9, and 10 (Assure that Transfer Pricing Outcomes are in Line with Value Creation) develop rules to prevent B.E.P.S. by (i) adopting a broad and clearly delineated definition of intangibles; (ii) ensuring that profits associated with the transfer and use of intangibles, capital, or other high-risk transactions are appropriately allocated in accordance with value creation; (iii) developing transfer pricing rules for transfers of hard-to-value intangibles; and (iv) updating the guidance on cost contribution arrangements.
- Action Item 13 (Re-examine Transfer Pricing Documentation) develops rules regarding transfer pricing documentation to enhance transparency for tax administrations, taking into consideration the compliance costs for multinationals.
With these and the 11 other Action Items, the O.E.C.D. aims to foster (i) coherence of corporate income taxation at the national level; (ii) enhanced substance, through bilateral tax treaties an in transfer pricing; and (iii) transparency and consistency of requirements.