Friday, 9 October 2015

OECD releases final BEPS report

There is nothing like coming back to work after a long weekend and being hit with reams of OECD analysis on BEPS. Released right on schedule in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the BEPS package is comprehensive and historic. This body of work will make a significant contribution to the equity and coherence of our international tax rules and it is important that Australia remains in step with these measures.

There are a great number of recommendations in the package, some of which can now be considered at a domestic level. For example, the OECD's recommendations on Controlled Foreign Company rules have now been released, meaning that reform of these rules at home, which has been on the cards for some time, may now warrant further attention.

The OECD's recommendation on the definition of permanent establishment is not entirely consistent with the approach taken in the Bill that is currently before our parliament. In our view it is vital that this domestic measure is consistent with the OECD measure and that a multilateral approach is taken.

We strongly support the OECD's comment that one of the measures of success of the BEPS project will be if businesses do not have to comply with many different disclosure requirements or anti-avoidance measures, thereby reducing compliance costs. The measures currently on the table domestically are not consistent with this objective and in fact will likely contribute to an increase in compliance costs. Our submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, which is due to be lodged next week, will say as much.

The BEPS package is being presented to the G20 Finance Ministers in Lima, Peru today. We understand that Australia is being represented at these discussions by brand new Assistant Treasurer, The Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP. The package will then be presented to the G20 leaders in Antalya, Turkey on the 15 and 16 November.

Let's hope the BEPS package receives the endorsement it deserves, and that all our papers jams on Tuesday morning were not in vain.


Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI is a Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.