The OECD released its first recommendations for a co-ordinated international approach to combat tax avoidance by multinational enterprises, under the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project designed to create a single set of international tax rules to end the erosion of tax bases and the artificial shifting of profits to jurisdictions to avoid paying tax.
Presenting the OECD’s recommendations, Secretary-General Angel Gurría said: “The G20 has identified base erosion and profit shifting as a serious risk to tax revenues, sovereignty and fair tax systems worldwide. Our recommendations constitute the building blocks for an internationally agreed and co-ordinated response to corporate tax planning strategies that exploit the gaps and loopholes of the current system to artificially shift profits to locations where they are subject to more favourable tax treatment.”
At the request of the G20 Leaders, the OECD’s work is based on a BEPS Action Plan setting out the 15 key elements to be addressed by 2015. The project aims to help governments protect their tax bases and offer increased certainty and predictability to taxpayers, while guarding against new domestic rules that result in double taxation, unwarranted compliance burdens or restrictions to legitimate cross-border activity.
The first 7 elements of the Action Plan released today focus on helping countries to:
- ensure the coherence of corporate income taxation at the international level, through new model tax and treaty provisions to neutralise hybrid mismatch arrangements (Action 2);
- realign taxation and relevant substance to restore the intended benefits of international standards and to prevent the abuse of tax treaties (Action 6);
- assure that transfer pricing outcomes are in line with value creation, through actions to address transfer pricing issues in the key area of intangibles (Action 8);
- improve transparency for tax administrations and increase certainty and predictability for taxpayers through improved transfer pricing documentation and a template for country-by-country reporting (Action 13);
- address the challenges of the digital economy (Action 1);
- facilitate swift implementation of the BEPS actions through a report on the feasibility of developing a multilateral instrument to amend bilateral tax treaties (Action 15); and
- counter harmful tax practices (Action 5).
The OECD recommendations will be a key item on the agenda when G20 finance ministers next convene at a meeting hosted by Australia’s Finance Minister Joe Hockey on 20-21 September in Cairns, Australia. The proposed measures were agreed after a transparent and intensive consultation process between OECD, G20 and developing countries and stakeholders from business, labour, academia and civil society organisations. These recommendations may be impacted by decisions taken with respect to the remaining elements of the BEPS Action Plan, which are scheduled to be presented to G20 Governments for final approval in 2015. At that point Governments will also address implementation measures for the Action Plan as a whole (OECD).