Monday, 15 May 2017

US Country‐by‐Country Reporting

The US Treasury and the IRS implemented country-by-country (CbC) reporting requirements to ensure that US multinational enterprises (MNEs) are not subject to CbC filing obligations in multiple foreign tax jurisdictions. US CbC reporting requires the ultimate parent entity to annually file IRS form 8975, “Country-by-Country Report,” including schedule A, “Tax Jurisdiction and Constituent Entity Information.” The reporting period is for the ultimate parent’s annual financial statement that ends with or within its taxable year; if the parent entity does not prepare an annual financial statement, the reporting period is its taxable year.

Regulation section 1.60384( h) says that the reporting threshold is US$850 million. That amount is equivalent to the €750 million agreed to on January 1, 2015 under the OECD's BEPS Action 13: Guidance on the Implementation of Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting. The July 18, 2016 Internal Revenue Bulletin (TD 9773) says that Treasury and the IRS expect other countries to acknowledge that the final BEPS report is inconsistent with a country's requiring local filing by the constituent entity of a US MNE whose revenue is less than US$850 million (paragraph 14). This is consistent with Canada's position. (See "Country-by-Country Reporting Is Here," Canadian Tax Highlights, March 2017: "The CRA administratively offers a Canadian filing exemption if the ultimate parent entity's jurisdiction 'has implemented a reporting threshold that is a near equivalent of €750 million in its domestic currency as it was at January 2015.'")

Fifty-seven countries had signed the OECD Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Exchange of Country by Country Reports as of January 26, 2017. The United States is not a signatory to that agreement but has implemented CbC reporting. The preamble to the final regulations to Code section 6038 says that without the US implementation of CbC reporting, US MNEs would have been required to comply with the varying CbC filing rules applicable in foreign jurisdictions—for example, the cumbersome requirement to use local currency or language in filing. Treasury said the following in TD 9773:
In addition, CbC reports filed with the IRS and exchanged pursuant to a competent authority arrangement benefit from the confidentiality requirements, data safeguards, and appropriate use restrictions in the competent authority arrangement. If a foreign tax jurisdiction fails to meet the confidentiality requirements, data safeguards, and appropriate use restrictions set forth in the competent authority arrangement, the United States will pause exchanges of all reports with that tax jurisdiction. Moreover, if such tax jurisdiction has adopted CbC reporting rules that are consistent with the 2015 Final Report for Action 13 (Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Group of Twenty (G20) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project (Final BEPS Report), the tax jurisdiction will not be able to require any constituent entity of the U.S. MNE group in the tax jurisdiction to file a CbC report. The ability of the United States to pause exchange creates an additional incentive for foreign tax jurisdictions to uphold the confidentiality requirements, data safeguards, and appropriate use restrictions in the competent authority arrangement.
The preamble to regulation 1.6038-4 discloses that the United States intends to enter into a competent authority arrangement to automatically exchange CbC reports with a jurisdiction with which it has an income tax treaty or tax information exchange agreement. According to TD 9773, Treasury and the IRS anticipate that information about the existence of competent authority arrangements for CbC reports will be made publicly available, in an as yet undetermined manner (paragraph 16).

Form 8975 is still draft: this is troublesome for US MNEs because most signatory countries require CbC reports in 2016. OECD guidelines say that a foreign subsidiary may be required to file a CbC report if its home country does not require reporting before 2017 (article 2(2) of action 13 of the BEPS report Action 13: Country-by-Country Reporting Implementation Package). In response, Revenue procedure 2017-23 was recently released to allow draft form 8975 to be filed as of September 1, 2017 for an earlier reporting period. The ultimate parent entity must file (or have filed) an income tax return for a taxable year that includes an earlier reporting period, but without a form 8975: procedures for filing an amended income tax return must be followed, and form 8975 attached, within 12 months of the end of the taxable year that includes the earlier reporting period. Ultimate parent entities are encouraged to file returns and forms 8975 electronically. The Revenue procedure says that the IRS will provide the software industry with specific electronic filing information on form 8975 in early 2017, with the intention of making the form available before the September 1, 2017 implementation date.

Sunita Doobay, TaxChambers LLP, Toronto, Canadian Tax Highlights. Volume 24, Number 4, April 2017 ©2017, Canadian Tax Foundation.

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