HIDE

Other Publications

Insights

Publications

India and the Digital Economy – The Emerging P.E. and Attribution Issues

India and the Digital Economy – The Emerging P.E. and Attribution Issues

The exponential expansion of information and communication technology has made it possible for businesses to be conducted in ways that did not exist 15 years ago.  It has given rise to new business models that rely almost exclusively on digital and telecommunication networks, do not require physical presence, and derive substantial value from data collected and transmitted through digital networks.  So how and where should these companies be taxed?  Sunil Agarwal, an advocate and senior tax partner of AZB & Partners New Delhi, evaluates proposals already enacted in India and the U.K. and those under consideration at the level of the European Commission and E.U. member countries Italy, France, and Austria.  Should the digital tax be a consumption tax passed on to the final consumer or a minimum income tax based on global profits or substantial economic presence?  At this point, consensus does not exist.

Read More

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.

Read More

The I.R.S. Approach to the Dependent Agent Concept

The I.R.S. Approach to the Dependent Agent Concept

When foreign corporations have certain limited activities in the U.S., a question that arises is whether a taxable presence exists in the U.S. for Federal income tax purposes.  A foreign corporate taxpayer with direct activities or operations in the U.S. is subject to U.S. corporate income tax and branch profits tax if it conducts a U.S. trade or business generating effectively connected income. Recently, the I.R.S. Large Business and International division published an international practice unit (“I.P.U.”) addressing the creation of a P.E. through the activities of a “dependent agent.” Fanny Karaman and Beate Erwin lead the reader through the I.P.U. and explain the four-step process that is used by the I.R.S. to evaluate whether a permanent establishment exists.

Read More

A New Definition of Permanent Establishment in Italian Domestic Income Tax Law

A New Definition of Permanent Establishment in Italian Domestic Income Tax Law

Italian domestic tax law has adopted the permanent establishment (“P.E.”) concept when determining whether business profits of a nonresident are taxable in the absence of an applicable income tax treaty.  Earlier this year, changes to the definition of the term broadened the scope of activity constituting a P.E.  Effective January 1, 2018, (i) a digital P.E. is treated as a fixed place P.E., (ii) the scope of the specific activity exemption has been scaled back, (iii) an anti-fragmentation rule has been adopted applicable to groups of companies, and (iv) the scope of an agency P.E. has been broadened. Stefano Loconte and Linda Favi of Loconte & Partners, Milan, explain the new rules.

Read More

O.E.C.D. Receives Public Comments on Proposed Changes to the Model Tax Convention

O.E.C.D. Receives Public Comments on Proposed Changes to the Model Tax Convention

In August, the O.E.C.D. released public comments on proposed changes to the Model Tax Convention.  Beate Erwin and Stanley C. Ruchelman examines the suggestions received by the O.E.C.D. and provides observations on the interplay between the O.E.C.D. proposed changes and existing U.S. approaches to these issues.  Areas covered include whether competent authority agreements can define undefined terms thereby removing the interpretation from local courts, whether a limitation on benefits (“L.O.B.”) clause or a principle purpose test (“P.P.T.”) is the better approach to limit treaty shopping, and whether a home that is leased to others can be a permanent home for purposes of applying the residence tiebreaker provision in a treaty. 

Read More

The Changing Face of Service Permanent Establishments

The Changing Face of Service Permanent Establishments

As governments struggle to adapt the old rules of taxable presence within a jurisdiction to economic activities in the digital age, new concepts have been asserted to impose tax on foreign service providers who are based abroad but regularly furnish services within a country.  India is among the global leaders rejecting physical presence in favor of location of the customer.  Neha Rastogi and Stanley C. Ruchelman look at the concept of destination based taxation and a recent case, where an Indian Income Tax Appellate Tribunal held that the physical presence of the foreign taxpayer’s employees is not relevant for determining the existence of a Service P.E. in the source country.

Read More

O.E.C.D. Issues Proposed Changes to Permanent Establishment Provisions Under Model Tax Convention

O.E.C.D. Issues Proposed Changes to Permanent Establishment Provisions Under Model Tax Convention

Earlier this year, the O.E.C.D. proposed amendments to Article 5 (Permanent Establishment) of the Model Tax Convention and Commentary.  The revisions eliminate loopholes that exist for commissionaire arrangements, artificial characterization of core activities as “preparatory,” avoidance of permanent establishment status through artificial fragmentation of contracts, and the use of not-so-independent agents.  Neha Rastogi, Beate Erwin, and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain the replacement provisions.

Read More

Proposed Directive on the E.U. Common (Consolidated) Corporate Tax Base – A Primer

Proposed Directive on the E.U. Common (Consolidated) Corporate Tax Base – A Primer

For decades, European bureaucrats looked with disdain at the way the various states within the U.S. compute state tax.  The arm’s length principle within Europe trumped state apportionment.  Now, however, the European Commission has issued three proposal directives that deal with (i) the Common Corporate Tax Base (“C.C.T.B.”) and the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (“C.C.C.T.B.”), (ii) resolution of double tax disputes, and (iii) mismatches with non-E.U. countries. To the surprise of many, the C.C.C.T.B. includes a three-factor apportionment rule for the sharing of global income by the members of a corporate group operating throughout the E.U.  Stefano Grilli of Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners, Milan, explains proposals that have been introduced.

Read More

B.E.P.S. Action 7 – O.E.C.D. Calls for Improved International Coordination on the Allocation of Branch Profit

One of three releases on July 4, the O.E.C.D.’s Additional Guidance on the Attribution of Profits to Permanent Establishments addresses the imponderable question – how much profit should be attributed to a P.E.?  The answer will make tax advisers quite happy: It depends on the facts, and the O.E.C.D. suggests that a coordinated global approach is required to avoid double taxation.  Stakeholders are invited to comment.  Michael Peggs examines five examples in the additional guidance.

Read More

2016 Model Treaty – B.E.P.S. and Expatriated Entities

On February 17, 2016, the Treasury Department released its 2016 Model Treaty. The model serves as the baseline from which the U.S. initiates treaty negotiations. Various provisions are discussed in detail in this month’s Insights.

The 2016 Model Treaty adopts certain B.E.P.S. provisions, including those that eliminate double non-taxation through a splintered operation which divides a long-term project among several related parties and each party maintains the project for a limited time. That type of planning no longer works. Other B.E.P.S.-related revisions are missing. Sheryl Shah and Elizabeth V. Zanet explain what is out and what is in. They also address the way payments from expatriated entities are treated. It is not all bad news.

Read More

U.S. Treasury Announces New U.S. Model Income Tax Treaty

On February 17, 2016, the Treasury Department released its 2016 Model Treaty. The model serves as the baseline from which the U.S. initiates treaty negotiations. Various provisions are discussed in detail in this month’s Insights.

Read More

B.E.P.S. Initiative Spawns Unfavorable Permanent Establishment Court Decisions

Two court cases in different parts of the world attack tax plans premised on the absence of a permanent establishment. Pertinent U.S. income tax treaties, with Japan and India respectively, were effectively ignored in each case. Taketsugu Osada, Christine Long, and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain.

Read More

Indian MAT Exemption

Following months of debate, the Indian Finance Ministry recently clarified that the Minimum Alternate Tax (M.A.T.) will not apply to foreign companies that do not have a permanent establishment and/or place of business in India.  Shibani Bakshi and Sheryl Shah discuss why the announcement is an affirmation of India’s positive attitude towards foreign investment.  The next move is up to the Indian Revenue.

Read More

Tax Planning for Indian Businesses Investing in the US – Part II

Published in Taxsutra: September 2015.

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.

Tax 101: Tax Planning and Compliance for Foreign Businesses with U.S. Activity

Read Publication

I. INTRODUCTION

The U.S. tax laws affecting foreign businesses with activity in the U.S. contain some of the more complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Examples include:

  • Effectively connected income,
  • Allocation of expenses to that income,
  • Income tax treaties,
  • Arm’s length transfer pricing rules,
  • Permanent establishments under income tax treaties,
  • Limitation on benefits provisions in income tax treaties that are designed to prevent “treaty shopping,”
  • State tax apportionment,
  • F.I.R.P.T.A. withholding tax for transactions categorized as real property transfers,
  • Fixed and determinable annual and periodical income, and
  • Interest on items of portfolio debt.

One can imagine that it is no easy task to identify income that is subject to tax, to identify the tax regime applicable to the income, and to quantify gross income, net income, and income subject to withholding tax. Nonetheless, the I.R.S. has identified withholding tax obligations of U.S. payers as a Tier I audit issue.