On the heels of the discussion drafts issued in March, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“O.E.C.D.”) released the initial components of its plan to fight base erosion and profit shifting (the “B.E.P.S. Action Plan”). Action Item 2 addresses the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements and proposes plans to neutralize the tax deficits caused.
These responses aim to tackle the following issues created by the hybrid mismatch arrangements:
- Reduction in overall tax revenue,
- Unfair advantage given to multinational taxpayers with access to sophisticated tax-planning expertise, and
- Increased expense often incurred in setting up hybrid arrangements compared to domestic structures.
This article introduces the different hybrid arrangements, looks at the proposed changes in both domestic law and international tax treaties, and discusses the ripple effect this could have if implemented.
A hybrid mismatch arrangement is one that exploits a difference in the way an entity or instrument is taxed under different jurisdictions to yield a mismatch in total tax liability incurred by the parties. The two possible mismatches that could result are either a “double deduction” (“DD”) or a deduction that is not offset in any jurisdiction by ordinary income (“D/NI”). These mismatches are brought about by the different interpretations afforded to the entities and transactions in relevantjurisdictions. The root cause of the hybrid mismatch is that an entity may be a “hybrid entity” and an instrument may be a “hybrid instrument.” Understanding the different hybrid arrangements is instrumental to understanding the plan proposed by the O.E.C.D.