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O.E.C.D. Discussion Draft on Financial Transactions – A Listing of Sins, Little Practical Guidance

O.E.C.D. Discussion Draft on Financial Transactions – A Listing of Sins, Little Practical Guidance

In July, the O.E.C.D. Centre for Tax Policy and Administration released Public Discussion Draft on B.E.P.S. Actions 8-10: Financial transactions (the “Discussion Draft”) addressing financial transactions (e.g., loans, guarantees, cash pools, captive insurance, and hedging). Michael Peggs and Scott R. Robson review the draft guidance and express disappointment. The Discussion Draft is not a thought leader, as tax authorities have successfully litigated the issues inherent in intercompany loans. Decided cases generally reflect a “not in my back yard” approach to deductions for interest expense. The Discussion Draft makes statements regarding allocation of risks in financial transactions that are inconsistent with arm’s length evidence. It also promotes decisions based on 20-20 hindsight. All these lead to several unanswered questions: What is the ultimate meaning of the term “arm’s length” when used in a cross-border financial transaction? Is it the terms and conditions that exist in actuality among lenders and borrowers, or is it the terms and conditions that should exist in the mindset of the tax authorities?

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German Anti-Treaty Shopping Rule Infringes on E.U. Law

German Anti-Treaty Shopping Rule Infringes on E.U. Law

When do attacks on cross-border tax planning move from enough to too much? The European Court of Justice (“E.C.J.”) provided an answer in connection with German tax rules limiting access to the E.U. Parent Subsidiary Directive for dividends leaving Germany. For many years, German law provided an irrebuttable presumption of fraudulent or abusive tax planning when a multinational structure failed to meet a “one size fits all” set of factual parameters. The provision was struck down by the E.C.J. last year, modified slightly in response, and struck down again in July of this year. Pia Dorfmueller of P+P Pollath explains why the German tax law was found to violate European law – it provided a response that was not proportional to the alleged wrong-doing.

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Joint Audits: A New Tool for Cross-Border Tax Evasion

Joint Audits: A New Tool for Cross-Border Tax Evasion

When a large corporate taxpayer receives an audit notification letter from the tax authority in its country of residence, the taxpayer typically knows what to expect: a lengthy process of documenting and defending its tax position. It also knows the process under domestic law for appealing adverse tax adjustments, and if cross-border issues are raised, it knows how to take advantage of Mutual Agreement Procedures between competent authorities under an income tax treaty. The full process can take years to resolve. Now, however, a pilot program between German and Italian tax authorities empowers a joint cross-border audit team to conduct a single joint audit of cross-border operations between the two countries. The joint audit is intended to be more effective for resolving issues of double taxation in cases involving complex facts related to (i) transfer pricing issues, (ii) residency or permanent establishment issues, and (iii) aggressive tax planning schemes. Marco Orlandi of Ludovici Piccone & Partners, Milan, examines the actual process followed in the pilot program and comments on whether the goals of the joint audit have been achieved.

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Coming to the U.S. After Tax Reform

Coming to the U.S. After Tax Reform

Now, more than six months after enactment of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, many tax advisers have achieved a level of comfort with the brave new world of Transition Tax, F.D.I.I., G.I.L.T.I., B.E.A.T., and incredibly low corporate tax rates. However, sleeper provisions in the new law can have drastic adverse tax consequences in the realm of cross-border transactions and investments: (i) the threshold for becoming a C.F.C. has been reduced significantly by several changes in U.S. tax law and (ii) the 10.5% tax rate for G.I.L.T.I. is limited to corporations so that individuals face ordinary income treatment for G.I.L.T.I. inclusions from foreign corporations that were not C.F.C’s. prior to the new law. Jeanne Goulet of Byrum River Consulting L.L.C., New York, addresses these problems and suggests several planning opportunities.

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Israeli Court Case First to Interpret Ten-Year Exemption

Israeli Court Case First to Interpret Ten-Year Exemption

Effective in 2007, Israel’s New Immigrant Benefits rules are intended to promote immigration through the grant of substantial tax benefits: (i) a ten-year tax exemption for foreign-source income produced or accrued outside Israel or income stemming from assets located outside Israel and (ii) an exemption for all tax reporting requirements related to exempt income. Over the years, the Israeli tax authorities applied strict rules in determining (i) whether a specific item of income should be considered to be foreign source income and (ii) the portion that is properly treated as foreign in circumstances of mixed income – part foreign and part domestic. Now, eleven years after the New Immigrant Benefits rules became effective, the first case addressing these open questions has been decided, Talmi v. Kfar Saba Tax Assessor. Daniel Paserman and Inbar Barak-Bilu of Gorntizky & Co., Tel Aviv, report on the holding. In brief, the taxpayer won on principles but lost on the basis of his facts.

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