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More Permanent Establishments: The Dwindling Preparatory and Auxiliary Activities Exception

More Permanent Establishments: The Dwindling Preparatory and Auxiliary Activities Exception

Nothing is certain in this world, except death and taxes – and even taxes are subject to change.  The ever-expanding definition of a permanent establishment (“P.E.”) and ever diminishing exceptions to a P.E. under the O.E.C.D.’s B.E.P.S. Project has made one thing clear – the restrictions local jurisdictions put on activities by foreign taxpayers to trigger taxation are tightening.  The dwindling preparatory and auxiliary activities exception is a prime example.  Neha Rastogi and Beate Erwin explain.

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O.E.C.D. on Digital Business – Seriously?!

O.E.C.D. on Digital Business – Seriously?!

On February 13, 2019, the O.E.C.D. issued a discussion draft addressing the tax challenges of the dig- italization of the economy and asked for feedback in a shockingly brief time- frame. Is the discussion draft – which, in many respects, mimics G.I.L.T.I.provisions and highlights the value of a market as a key determiner of profitallocation – a move away from value of functions? In a stealth way, it may be a precursor to a global B.E.A.T. Christian Shoppe of Deloitte Deutschland, Frankfurt, cautions that the ultimate destination of B.E.P.S. may be added complexity in tax laws and expanded opportunity for double taxation. Bad news for taxpayers; more work for tax advisers.

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Alta Energy Affirms Treaty Benefits: A Canadian Case Study for Applying the M.L.I.

Alta Energy Affirms Treaty Benefits: A Canadian Case Study for Applying the M.L.I.

As part of its attack on B.E.P.S., the O.E.C.D. published its Multilateral Instrument, a device that revised more than 1,200 income tax treaties. One of the provisions of the M.L.I. targets treaty shopping by the adoption of, among other things, a principal purpose test ("P.P.T."). In simple terms, the P.P.T. disallows a treaty benefit when a principal purpose of a transaction is to obtain that benefit. Transactions in accordance with the object and purpose of the provisions of a treaty are not affected by the P.P.T. Many North American tax advisers know that the P.P.T. is based on a provision of Canadian law known as the General Anti-Avoidance Rule or G.A.A.R. A recent decision of the Tax Court of Canada addresses the application of G.A.A.R. to a cross-border tax plan set up by a U.S. financial institution designed specifically to obtain enhanced Canadian tax benefits by rechanneling a U.S. investment in Canada into a U.S. investment into Luxembourg that was then invested into Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency ("C.R.A.") attacked the Luxembourg company's entitlement to treaty benefits relying heavily on G.A.A.R. Kristy J. Balkwill and Benjamin Mann of Miller Thomson L.L.P., Toronto, explain the decision and its potential impact on the P.P.T. The case has been appealed by C.R.A.

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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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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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