As part of continuing efforts to improve the international tax framework, the OECD has released the first analysis of individual country efforts to improve dispute resolution mechanisms.
The six peer review reports represent the first evaluation of how countries are implementing new minimum standards agreed in the OECD/G20 BEPS Project. The BEPS Project sets out 15 key actions to reform the international tax framework, by ensuring that profits are reported where economic activities are carried out and value is created.
A key pillar of the project focused on improving the mutual agreement procedure (MAP), which resulted in a new minimum standard to ensure that tax treaty related disputes are resolved in a timely, effective and efficient manner (Action 14). This minimum standard is complemented by a set of best practices. In addition to implementing the Action 14 minimum standard, countries committed to have their compliance with this standard reviewed and monitored by their peers. (For further information about the OECD’s work on Action 14, see: www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-action-14-peer-review-and-monitoring.htm.)
The first six peer review reports relate to implementation by Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. A document addressing the implementation of best practices is also available on each jurisdiction. The six reports include over 110 recommendations relating to the minimum standard. In stage 2 of the peer review process, each jurisdiction’s efforts to address any shortcomings identified in its stage 1 peer review report will be monitored. The six assessed jurisdictions performed well in various MAP areas:
- All provide for roll-back of bilateral APAs with a view to preventing disputes from arising;
- MAP is available and access to MAP is granted in the situations required by the minimum standard;
- The competent authority function is adequately resourced, and takes a pragmatic and principled approach for the resolution of MAP cases; and
- MAP agreements reached so far have been implemented on time.
The main areas where improvements are necessary concern:
- Resolution of MAP cases within the pursued average of 24 months is a challenge for some jurisdictions, especially concerning transfer pricing cases;
- MAP guidance is generally clear and accessible, however, improvements for some jurisdictions are necessary and already under way; and
- Each of the six jurisdictions was given recommendations to align their tax treaty MAP provisions with the Action 14 minimum standard. For a number of those treaties, such alignment will already be realised via the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS.
These first peer review reports represent an important step forward to turn the political commitments made by members of the Inclusive Framework into measureable, tangible progress. The six jurisdictions concerned are already working to address deficiencies identified in their respective reports. The OECD will continue to publish stage 1 peer review reports in accordance with the Action 14 peer review assessment schedule.
News source: OECD