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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 Michael Peggs and Scott R. Robson review the draft guidance and express disappointment.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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Managing a Transfer Pricing Exam? Wash Your Hands with Soap and Water

Managing a Transfer Pricing Exam? Wash Your Hands with Soap and Water

For management of a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign parent, the process by which the I.R.S. conducts an examination of a tax return creates a heightened stress level.  It begins with the arrival of an information document request ("I.D.R.") for transfer pricing documentation, which often comes as a surprise to a company.  Typically, two or three years have passed since the close of the year under examination and little is recalled about transactions.  From there, the expressed positions of I.R.S. examiners and management often are at odds.  Drawing on many years of experience in defending intercompany transfer pricing policies, Michael Peggs takes a step back from the fray to examine how opposing, pre-conceived notions on both sides combine with the Semmelweis Reflex to exacerbate what should be a straightforward tax examination.

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Can the Arm’s Length Standard Beat the R.A.P.? Transfer Pricing After the T.C.J.A.

Can the Arm’s Length Standard Beat the R.A.P.? Transfer Pricing After the T.C.J.A.

Experienced tax litigators know that Congress often protects the I.R.S. when an important case is lost.  Yes, the taxpayer wins.  But Congress codifies the I.R.S. position by an amendment to the law.  The T.C.J.A. revised Code §482 legislatively, thereby reversing Tax Court decisions in the Amazon and Veritas cases that dismissed two arguments raised by the I.R.S. in transfer pricing litigation – mandatory use of aggregate basis of valuation (grouping of intangibles for valuation purposes) and the realistic alternative principle (challenging the business judgment for the transaction).  Michael Peggs and Sheryl Shah explain this attack on the arm’s length principle of taxation.

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Income Shifting: Common Ownership or Control Under Code §482 in an Inbound Transaction

Income Shifting: Common Ownership or Control Under Code §482 in an Inbound Transaction

The Large Business and International Division of the I.R.S. (“LB&I”) periodically develops international practice units (“I.P.U.’s”) that serve as training material for international examiners.  In November 2017, an I.P.U. entitled “Common Ownership or Control Under IRC 482 – Inbound” was published.  On the same date, the I.R.S. issued a sister I.P.U. for outbound transactions, “Common Ownership or Control Under IRC 482 – Outbound.”  Together, they serve as a primer for determining whether sufficient control exists between two parties to bring the arm’s length transfer pricing rules of Code §482 into play.  Stanley C. Ruchelman explains how the I.R.S. trains its examiners when determining whether a transfer pricing adjustment is appropriate. 

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