Other Publications



Is an E.U. Financial Transactions Tax Coming in 2016?

Although the origins of the Financial Transactions Tax (“F.T.T.”) date back to the 1970’s, the European Commission first proposed a European Union-wide financial transactions tax in 2011. The proposal came at a time when many Europeans were concerned about the bad behavior of large banks and several E.U. countries were spending billions of dollars to bail out failing banks, while imposing austerity measures to counterbalance the impact on their budgets. Elizabeth V. Zanet and John Chown ponder whether the E.U. will adopt an F.T.T. now that 11 states have agreed to work on its implementation. Open issues exist.

Read More

U.K. Implements 25% “Google Tax” on Diverted Profits

Read Publication

The U.K. has implemented the controversial diverted profits tax on the profits of multinational companies that are “artificially diverted” from activity within the country. This 25% levy became effective on profits arising on or after April 1, 2015. At this point, it is unclear whether the outcome of the Parliamentary election on May 7 will impact the enforcement of the diverted profits tax, which was enacted without thorough examination by Parliament.

U.K. officials claim multinational corporations are manipulating the tax system and have imposed the 25% levy to prevent companies from avoiding a taxable presence in the U.K. This corporate diversions tax is aimed at entities that transfer profits to lower tax jurisdictions, away from the U.K. The diverted profits tax is being called the “Google tax” because it addresses the practices of well-known international entities such as Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Starbucks Corp. that have used the U.K.’s permanent establishment and economic substance rules to craft tax advantages within the bounds of the law. Legislators have held hearings within the last year on how these three companies in particular have been able to generate billions of dollars in revenue in the U.K. but report little or no taxable profits.

The U.K. tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (“H.M.R.C.”), introduced a draft of the diverted profits tax last fall and quickly implemented the legislation ahead of the May 7 election. There is great concern about the legislation’s complexity and that its hasty enactment will only result in future revisions, which will further complicate the matter. On the whole, the government is targeting transactions that it does not favor even though they are legal, and the tax itself is being criticized for undermining the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project executed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Deoffshorization in Russia: C.F.C. Legislation Comes into Effect

Read Publication

Federal law No. 376 of November 24, 2014, On Amendments to Part One and Part Two of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation (concerning the taxation of controlled foreign companies and foreign organizations), and commonly referred to as the “C.F.C. Law,” came into force on January 1, 2015. It marks the beginning of deoffshorization of the Russian economy and introduces entirely new tax rules for Russian businesses having affiliates based outside Russia.

The C.F.C. Law introduces the following three new legal concepts, previously nonexistent in Russian tax legislation:

  • Controlled foreign company (“C.F.C.”),
  • Russian tax residence for foreign companies, and
  • Beneficial owner of income.

The C.F.C. Law establishes the obligation of taxpayers to notify the tax authorities of their participation in foreign entities. It also establishes rules for computing and taxing C.F.C. profit and share transactions of companies that own real estate in Russia. It provides for recognition of foreign non-corporate structures (such as trusts, private foundations, partnerships, etc.) as separate taxpayers.

Following the O.E.C.D. lead in the B.E.P.S. proposals, these amendments have two broad goals: (i) they ensure business transparency and (ii) they combat the use of low-tax jurisdictions to obtain unjustified tax benefits.


A controlled foreign company is a foreign entity (or non-corporate structure) that is:

  1. Not a tax resident of the Russian Federation and
  2. Controlled by Russian tax residents, either legal entities or individuals (“Controlling Persons”).

The Proposed United Kingdom "Diverted Profits Tax"

Read Publication


The United Kingdom proposes to introduce, on profits arising as of April 1, 2015, a “Diverted Profits Tax.” This is intended to override the normal international tax arrangements when H.M.R.C. (the U.K. tax authority) does not like the outcome. Domestic laws, O.E.C.D. practice, and a network of Double Tax Agreements provide a definition of “Permanent Establishment” defining what income is or is not taxable within the country of operation. Similarly, “Transfer Pricing” rules should enable the tax authorities to ensure that the price used for transactions between related entities is appropriate for calculating proper division of taxable revenue between the countries concerned. While many believe that these are not working as well as they should, the problems need a more subtle and sophisticated solution rather than a blunderbuss approach.

The “Diverted Profits Tax,” at a rate of 25% (mildly penal, compared with the Corporation Tax rate of 21%), is to be imposed if H.M.R.C. does not like the answer produced by these well-established procedures and succeeds in claiming, under this new law, that profits have, nevertheless, been “diverted.” The draft legislation sets out very detailed rules. These are available on the H.M.R.C. website, but those who follow matters very closely would be well-advised to continue to examine the extensive comments that are being made. The draft legislation gets very close to giving H.M.R.C. the power to determine unilaterally the level of taxable income. “Tax by administrative discretion” is a policy normally associated with authoritarian or left-wing governments. The United Kingdom may well, post-election, have a leftwing government who will be delighted to be presented with what, to them, is a very attractive measure.


What do those affected by the draft legislation and their advisers need to do or know? The provisions will not apply to S.M.E.’s, i.e., groups with less than £10 million of annual sales within the U.K. Others will need to consider their position very carefully and make contingency plans on the assumption that the provisions will be enacted, although perhaps in a substantially amended form. H.M.R.C. forecasts that the measure will eventually bring in £350 million per annum, but goes on to say that it “is not expected to have a significant economic impact.” American readers in particular will be well aware that there is a huge gap between the initially-forecast yield of a tax avoidance measure and the outcome. Hastily proposed and badly designed tax legislation is often more successful at creating economic damage than producing revenue or desirable changes in activities.

Foreign Correspondence: Notes from Abroad

Read Publication


By Michael Peggs

When people think of massive transfer pricing cases, the driver typically is the diversion of profits to a low-tax jurisdiction. But transfer pricing issues are now filtering down to the level of retail shoppers facing retail price disparity in adjacent jurisdictions. A typical case is the premium that Canadian purchasers generally pay over prices charged in the U.S. for comparable products.

Before the internet, it was customary for Canadians to receive flyers in the mail from U.S. grocery and department stores. The flyers offered bargains for the holidays. The internet now allows instant price comparisons and greater choice for Canadian consumers. Disregarding sub rosa impediments to competition that permeate many areas of the Canadian economy – think of cultural preferences – Canadians have complained loudly that retail prices are unfairly high when compared with exchange-adjusted U.S. prices. A typical example is print media where the premium for pricing the Canadian edition was not reduced over the period in which the Canadian dollar reached parity with its U.S. counterpart.

The Canadian government is now preparing to give the Competition Bureau new powers to persuade U.S. multinationals with Canadian retail operations to lower prices or to achieve retail price parity, as will be determined. One hopes that Industry Canada will intervene with the Canada Revenue Agency (“C.R.A.”) before drafting legislation, as an unintended consequence may be a new round of Canadian transfer pricing controversy.