See our latest edition to learn how the BEPS project transcends a rewrite of the global tax framework to become a business transformation issue.
We’ll help you navigate the global tax landscape
The business and tax landscapes have changed dramatically, and the pace and complexity of change continues to increase. Governments are tempering the need for revenue with increased competition for labor and capital. Tax authorities are adapting their enforcement strategies, focus and policies in response to the changing dynamics of business. Companies are balancing competing priorities, ensuring they maintain compliance while adding value.
We can assist you with these critical issues in today's tax environment, including:
Improving large business tax compliance:
Building the balance: Cooperative compliance in practice
The administration of our tax regime is a key factor in the attractiveness of the UK as a place to live and do business. Our report outlines the proposed agreement and offers a view on the most effective way to take it forward. Read more 2.1Mb, March 2016
Engaging with HMRC
255K, July 2015
New measures applicable from April or July 2016
494K, December 2015
Corporate Governance Code meets Tax Code of Practice
203K, July 2015
- Midweek Tax News
A weekly update on tax matters to 28 June 2016
Midweek Tax News provides you with a succinct overview of the key tax developments that have occurred each week to allow you to stay up-to-date on tax issues that may have an impact on your business. If you would like to discuss an article in more detail, please speak to the relevant contact listed at the end of this issue or to your usual EY contact.
Wide-ranging tax effects likely as a result of the UK vote to leave the EU
Following the UK's vote to leave the EU on Thursday, events and discussions continue to move on. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, attended the European Council summit yesterday, after announcing his resignation on Friday. Today leaders of the other 27 Member States are meeting without the UK to decide on how to react to Brexit (following on from smaller meetings that have already taken place). The European Parliament, which must ratify any deal agreed for the UK to leave the EU, has also been debating the challenges involved.
The UK remains subject to all aspects of EU law until it actually leaves. Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union allows up to two years for negotiations but the UK has stated that this will not be triggered before the date David Cameron's successor is appointed, which the Conservative Party has now announced is intended to be 9 September 2016.
Subject to the terms under which the UK leaves the EU, it is unlikely that the UK will be party to some of the tax initiatives currently in train in Brussels such as the anti-tax avoidance directive, public country-by-country reporting and the common consolidated corporate tax base. However, where the UK has supported these initiatives, it may continue to push ahead with similar legislation. In the meantime, the Government will need to consider whether it wants to go ahead with existing proposals in areas such as implementing interest restrictions under BEPS Action 4 or delay them to help provide stability for business during the current period of uncertainty.
Groups may wish to review the effects of the different scenarios for the UK leaving the EU, although it may be some time before it is clear what the most likely exit route is. The most significant drivers of change are expected to be regulatory issues, customs duties and VAT. However, the direct tax consequences of the UK's exit itself and of any changes made to the supply chain will also have to be considered and analysed. Furthermore, tax functions will want to be fully involved in any decisions on restructuring and relocations that result from wider business discussions.
Indirect tax implications of Brexit
Although the EU referendum result has given rise to considerable uncertainty, there are steps that groups can undertake to understand the indirect tax impact on their business. The various potential future trade models all have likely indirect tax results and it is possible to map current and proposed business models against the potential future trade scenarios. For instance, if the UK joined the EEA, it would be unlikely to lead to substantial indirect tax change, whereas bilateral agreements with individual EU Member States could result in UK borders being recognised and tariffs, customs duties and import VAT coming into force.
Nonetheless, overall there is no reason to believe that there will be drastic changes to UK VAT law. At least initially, the UK Government could choose to grandfather interpretations, European Commission decisions and the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union. However, it remains possible that, in the future, UK VAT rules could diverge from the EU VAT regime.
Leaving the EU therefore presents an opportunity to make the case for changes to the current VAT treatment of certain supplies. For instance there has been comment that leaving the EU would allow the Government to cut VAT on domestic fuel from 5% to 0% and to reduce the VAT on ebooks. These are both issues where the UK is currently bound by EU legislation. Conversely, there have been suggestions that the Government could seek to prevent further repayments and interest being paid in respect of cases where UK tax law was found to be incompatible with EU law.
The vote to leave the EU also calls into question the use of existing EU indirect tax simplifications for cross-border transactions, ranging from registration schemes such as the Mini One Stop Shop through to customs simplifications such as the Authorised Economic Operator scheme. Furthermore, from a goods perspective, it is highly likely that customs regulations would also change as the UK negotiates changes to the Customs Union across the EU and pursues trade agreements with third countries.
With so much potential change from an indirect tax perspective, businesses may wish to consider existing and future supply chains now, to understand how the indirect tax landscape might develop and to reflect on the potential tax, commercial, systems and compliance implications.
Government to bring new UK royalty rules into effect from 28 June
HMRC has announced that new rules on the withholding tax on royalties, which were originally to come into force from the Royal Assent of Finance Bill 2016, have been accelerated such that they came into effect for payments made on or after yesterday, 28 June. This is because Royal Assent has been delayed until after the summer recess as a result of the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
The rules that came into force yesterday are intended to widen the definition of the royalties that require the payer to withhold UK income tax to align it more closely with the definition in the OECD model tax treaty. In practice, this is expected to mean that trademark royalties are now included even if they are not ‘pure income profit’.
The new rules also provide that UK-source royalties related to the UK permanent establishment of a non-UK company (as well as royalties from ‘avoided’ permanent establishments for the purposes of diverted profits tax) are subject to UK withholding tax. In practice this could result in a UK withholding tax obligation even where payments are made between two non-UK group companies, if the payment could be in respect of ‘UK activities’.
HMRC has also published an updated technical note including draft clauses. It is intended that these will be introduced at the public bill committee stage of Finance Bill 2016, rather than at report stage as previously planned. There are anti-forestalling provisions in the draft legislation, which seek to disregard payments made before 28 June 2016 which were intended to circumvent the new rules.
These new rules, as well as their interaction with other provisions such as diverted profits tax, are complex. Groups may therefore wish to review their contractual arrangements, the location of their intellectual property, and whether they may have permanent establishments and/or avoided permanent establishments under the diverted profits tax rules.
Directive on the VAT treatment of vouchers adopted
The Council of the European Union has issued a press release announcing that it has adopted a directive aimed at clarifying and harmonising EU rules on the VAT treatment of vouchers.
The directive aims to reduce the risk of mismatches in national tax rules leading to double taxation, non-taxation or other undesired consequences. Narrower in scope than the European Commission's original proposal from 2012, the directive defines single-purpose vouchers and multi-purpose vouchers, and sets rules to determine the taxable value of transactions in both cases.
The UK Treasury has been instrumental in agreeing these EU voucher proposals. The voucher rules within the UK are complex and, arguably, outdated. We would therefore expect the UK to want to implement the actions in the vouchers directive, irrespective of the EU referendum result. HM Treasury is due to meet businesses and advisors on 5 July to discuss the proposals in detail.
Member States will have until 31 December 2018 to transpose the directive into national laws and regulations, before applying its provisions from 1 January 2019. The directive's provisions will only apply to vouchers issued after that date.
It has taken many years to introduce new EU voucher legislation, mainly because of the difference in approaches across the EU, so the adoption of the directive is a significant step forward. Most, if not all, Member States will have to revisit their domestic legislation in relation to vouchers; perhaps most significantly, those countries which do not at present recognise multi-purpose vouchers.
Other UK developments
People functions likely to see impact from Brexit
While the UK will continue to participate in freedom of movement within the EU until it actually leaves, the long term picture will depend on the terms negotiated for the UK's withdrawal. However, it seems unlikely that EU citizens already working in the UK will be required to leave. Please see our mobility alert on the immigration implications for more details.
The UK leaving the EU could also affect the periods for which continued home state coverage is available for posted workers, as well as the ability to access contribution-related benefits (such as child support and retirement benefits) and health care. Please see our mobility alert on the social security considerations of Brexit for further details.
As part of negotiations and depending on what terms of exit are agreed, the UK may be required to continue to accept EU employment law provisions. This, combined with the fact that the UK has gone further than is required under EU law in many situations, means it is unlikely that there will be significant change to employment law in the UK. Please see our employment law alert for details.
Committee of the Whole House considers Finance Bill 2016
The committee of the Whole House of Commons considered various aspects of Finance Bill 2016 on Monday, 27 June and Tuesday, 28 June. The clauses considered included those on employee benefits, capital gains tax, insurance premium tax, the climate change levy, and tax avoidance and evasion. A number of Government amendments were agreed, largely in respect of the new rules on penalties for evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
The committee also debated an amendment with cross-party support to include a public country-by-country report in the tax strategy that large businesses will be required to publish. The amendment was defeated but the Government made clear that it supported public country-by-country reporting if it is implemented through a multilateral agreement.
The rest of the Bill will be considered in a public bill committee and a series of amendments to be considered at that stage have been published, including a number of changes to the patent box rules. The dates for this have yet to be announced, but the committee must conclude its scrutiny by 14 July. It has also now been confirmed that Royal Assent of the Bill will not take place until autumn.
First-tier Tribunal finds that the appointment of a receiver limits group relief claims
In the case of Farnborough Airport Properties Company Ltd & Anor, the First-tier Tribunal has held that the appointment of a receiver over the whole of the property of a group company constituted arrangements by which the company concerned ceased to be under the same control as the other group members. As such, the company was unable to surrender group relief to other group companies from the date of the receiver's appointment. HMRC has taken a similar position in the past with respect to a company entering administration and this case, if not appealed, provides further support for HMRC's position in that the Tribunal rejected the suggestion that the ‘arrangements rules’ should be narrowly construed as an anti-avoidance provision.
First-tier Tribunal accepts claim to offset losses of a permanent establishment against separate rental income
In the case of English Holdings Ltd, the First-tier Tribunal has allowed the offsetting by a non-UK resident company of losses arising in its UK permanent establishment against profits from its UK property rental business. The UK property rental business was not carried on by the permanent establishment.
HMRC argued that the income tax provisions were to be disapplied if profits from the trade were chargeable to corporation tax. On a literal reading, the Tribunal disagreed and furthermore found there was no reason for a purposive interpretation of the provisions to lead it to change that conclusion. It did, however, accept that the legislation should be capable of interpretation so as to prevent a ‘double’ claim for loss relief (that is, against corporation tax as well as income tax).
Tax treaty between the UK and Turkmenistan published
A double taxation treaty between the UK and Turkmenistan was signed in Ashgabat on 10 June 2016. It will come into force only once both countries have completed their legislative procedures and exchanged diplomatic notes. Until then, the double taxation convention between the UK and the USSR, which was signed on 31 July 1985, continues to apply to Turkmenistan.
HMRC updates its policy in relation to VAT treatment of transfers of a going concern (TOGCs)
HMRC has issued a Revenue & Customs Brief setting out its position following the Upper Tribunal's decision in the case of Intelligent Managed Services Ltd. The Upper Tribunal had held that the transfer of a business to a member of a VAT group, which made supplies only to another member of the same VAT group, qualified as a TOGC and was thus outside the scope of VAT. In a change of policy following the case, HMRC now accepts that the transfer of a business to a company in a VAT group can be a TOGC, provided the company intends to operate the same kind of business in supplying services to other group members, who in turn make supplies outside of the group. HMRC has also revised its policy on TOGCs involving transfers out of a VAT group.
Any taxpayers who have been refused TOGC treatment for the transfer of a business into (or out of) a VAT group in the circumstances outlined, and who have incurred a VAT (or stamp duty land tax) cost as a result, may wish to consider making a retrospective claim.
Deadline approaches for filing share scheme returns
The deadline for filing annual share schemes returns for 2015/16 is 6 July 2016. Companies must file returns for all schemes, including nil returns for inactive schemes. Companies must also notify HMRC if they have amended a key feature of a company share option plan, save as you earn option scheme or share incentive plan, and state whether the amendment has caused the scheme to cease to meet the legislative requirements.
US and Luxembourg agree to implement a change in respect of permanent establishments in their tax treaty
The US and Luxembourg have announced that, as a part of ongoing negotiations, they have agreed to modify the existing so-called triangular provision in their tax treaty to be consistent with the corresponding provision in the 2016 US Model Treaty. Accordingly, treaty benefits will generally be denied when a resident of one state earns income from the other state through a permanent establishment, and the resident is subject to a significantly lower tax rate on income attributable to the permanent establishment.
The new provision is expected to have effect for amounts paid or credited on or after the third day following publication in the Official Gazette in Luxembourg indicating that it has become law in Luxembourg.
We note that negotiations are continuing on the amendment of a number of other provisions in the tax treaty.
Please see our global tax alert for more details.
European Commission publishes a public version of its decision on grant of State Aid by the Netherlands
The European Commission has published a public version of its decision of 21 October 2015 that the Netherlands had granted unlawful State Aid in respect of an advance pricing agreement given to a Dutch company which was a member of a multinational group. The Dutch Government has since appealed against the decision.
European Parliament's TAXE2 committee adopts recommendations on corporate taxes
Recommendations to make corporate taxation ‘fairer and clearer’ were voted on and adopted by the European Parliament's Special Committee on Tax Rulings II. The committee has called for an EU public register of the beneficial owners of companies, a tax havens blacklist, sanctions against non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, action against the abuse of ‘patent box’ regimes, a code of conduct for banks and tax advisors, tax good governance rules in all EU trade agreements and a withholding tax on profits leaving the EU.
The recommendations will be put to the European Parliament as a whole next month.
Other global tax alerts
Please see links to a selection of our tax alerts in respect of the following developments. Additional articles are available in our global tax alert library.
The Netherlands: The Government has issued a consultation on widening the scope of existing rules on restrictions to interest deductibility.
The Philippines: The Bureau of Internal Revenue is granting the automatic application of treaty rates of withholding tax to non-residents.
Austria: The Government has published a bill to implement transfer pricing local and master files, as well as country-by-country reporting.
Issue 16 of Tax Insights, EY's flagship global tax publication, is now available. This issue focuses on ‘BEPS and business’, including how the effects of the BEPS agenda transcend tax and require C-Suite attention. BEPS continues to be a significant topic for many groups and the UK remains fully committed to the process, notwithstanding the EU referendum.
Our booklet UK/EU: Working through uncertainty: Practical considerations for Financial Institutions looks at the way that the UK leaving the EU is likely to affect financial services groups
Please speak to your usual EY contact, or email us at email@example.com, if you would like to receive a copy of our regular indirect tax newsletter or our employment, reward and mobility newsletter, as well as information about our other publications.
If you would like to discuss any of the articles in this week's edition of Midweek Tax News, please contact the individuals listed below, Claire Hooper (+ 44 20 7951 2486), or your usual EY contact.
Wide-ranging tax effects likely as a result of the UK vote to leave the EU
+ 44 20 7951 2486
Indirect tax implications of Brexit
+ 44 20 7951 4963
Government to bring new UK royalty rules into effect from 28 June
+ 44 20 7980 9060
Directive on the VAT treatment of vouchers adopted
+ 44 20 7951 1662
For other queries or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Operating in a shifting tax landscape
The global tax landscape continues to change in a dramatic fashion, with near-constant news hitting the headlines regarding shifting tax policy, increasing levels of enforcement and the growing potential of reputational risk.
Multinational companies now have to balance more competing priorities than ever before, ensuring they protect their business by monitoring and responding to changes in policy, legislation and tax enforcement, while at the same time ensuring they not only maintain the highest levels of compliance but also add value from the tax function.
Governments work to secure each tax dollar they're due
From a policy perspective, all governments want their country to be viewed as an attractive place to do business, to attract jobs and capital in an increasingly competitive globalized arena.
At the same time, they want to increase the amount of revenue they bring in. Governments are treading a fine line, constantly assessing how to secure the tax revenues they see as rightly theirs, while at the same time being in direct competition with other nations, making sure they do not scare off mobile capital.
Tax administrations for their part are adapting their enforcement strategies, focus and policies in response to the changing dynamics of business. They are working to ensure that their resources are being applied to the right issues and taxpayers. They share more leading practices and taxpayer information with their foreign counterparts, to help them collect every dollar due.
Disputes are on the rise
The result has been more frequent, complex and higher value disputes between taxpayers and taxing authorities — a trend that is only increasing as countries collaborate together and as emerging markets gain in stature and influence, taking a more sophisticated approach to taxation. Penalties are becoming more stringent and the threat of reputational risk has risen significantly in recent months.
We can help you to navigate a route through this complex landscape.
We can help you monitor and react to quickly-changing tax policy and assess the economic and fiscal impact.
Where tax policies might create an impediment to your business that is unintended by policy makers, we can help you to collaborate – either solely, or as part of a broader grouping of companies who share a common objective – with government to:
- Explain the impediment
- Develop alternative policy choices which are logical and well thought out
- Model the potential outcomes
- Deliver an alternative choice to the government in a form with which policy makers can comfortably work
We also help you address your global tax controversy, enforcement and disclosure needs.
We focus on pre-filing controversy management to help you properly and consistently file your returns and prepare the relevant back-up documentation.
Where a controversy has already occurred, our professionals leverage the network's collective knowledge of how tax authorities operate, and increasingly work together, to help resolve difficult or sensitive tax disputes. To ensure that continuous performance improvements are instigated after a controversy, we work with EY's other tax professionals to ensure that similar events are less likely to occur.
Below you can access our views and analysis of some of the substantial policy and enforcement trends and issues at play today.
- Seizing the opportunity in Global Compliance and Reporting
Global Compliance and Reporting (GCR) is at a tipping point, with risks on the rise. Many companies distribute responsibility for GCR processes throughout their organization, creating a patchwork. Local jurisdictions are rewriting regulations, focusing more intently on the collection of tax revenues and sharing more taxpayer information across borders.
Due to the combination of evolving business models, transforming finance functions and an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, there are new opportunities to better optimize efficiency, control and value, to help mitigate risk and improve performance.
What is Global Compliance and Reporting?
GCR comprises the key elements of a company's finance and tax processes that prepare statutory financial and tax filings as required in countries around the world. These duties include:
- Statutory accounting and reporting
- Tax accounting and provisions
- Income tax compliance
- Indirect tax compliance
- Governance and control of the above processes
GCR activities reside in the middle of a broader set of record-to-report (R2R) processes. R2R is the intersection between any company's finance and tax departments and is used to capture, process and store information that is essential to statutory accounting, tax compliance and reporting. Any change to R2R processes, information, finance systems, roles and responsibilities will have a direct impact on GCR processes.
Helping you meet the new GCR demands
Fast changing compliance and reporting requirements are more demanding on tax and finance functions today than ever before. So how do you improve control and quality, manage risk, create efficiency and drive value?
Our market-leading approach combines standard and efficient processes, highly effective tools and an extensive network of local tax and accounting subject matter professionals.
- Building effective supply chains
As multinational companies seek to reach new markets and compete more effectively in mature markets, they are adapting and differentiating their supply chains. Companies’ operating models need to cater for efficiency and scale in mature markets, while having the flexibility and local ability to support growth in emerging markets. Consequently, driving true shareholder value requires an operating model that combines global and regionally differentiated processes, and integrates these with local striking power and operational excellence.
Leading companies recognize the need for integrating tax in their business planning and decision processes
Whether companies seek to enter new markets or drive efficiencies in mature markets, leading companies understand the complexities of the international tax systems. The impact of both direct taxes and indirect taxes needs to be carefully considered and integrated to drive the effectiveness of the operating model while complying with all applicable local and international tax laws and effectively manage all tax risks. Operating model effectiveness is becoming one of the cornerstones of successful competition and differentiation.
The EY TESCM offering helps ensure you do just that. Our advisory and tax professionals operate as one team to assist our clients with developing and implementing operating model optimization where business needs and requirements are the driver while making sure that tax is an integrated part of the design of the operating model architecture.
- Managing mobile workforce risk
In today's globally integrated, tightly regulated and increasingly competitive business environment, one critical success factor stands out: people. It’s no wonder that leading companies are focusing their efforts on:
- Attracting and retaining the right people
- Global talent deployment and mobility
- HR and payroll effectiveness
- Risk, governance and compliance
Managing the risks of mobile employees
While optimizing the competitive advantage of your people has long been a core objective, a more recent set of trends in the tax landscape means that large companies with an internationally mobile workforce are at a higher risk of tax noncompliance and resulting controversy than ever before.
Fortunately, an increasing number of organizations are currently either planning or embracing a wider process of change for their mobility teams.
Unintended tax compliance obligations
These travelers are increasingly creating unintended tax compliance obligations, and the resulting risks are not just personal. They are felt at the corporate level, with the corporate tax function often unaware of the extent of the spreading problem. Tax administrations are becoming increasingly aware of the issue, however, and are very effectively using new technology to identify where a tax obligation has arisen. In a rising tax enforcement landscape, this issue has significant potential to grow.
Managing these risks should be a burning platform issue for multinational companies.
Will your tax risks prompt a tax audit?
What may start as a relatively simple personal income tax compliance issue can quickly create a ripple effect, with risks such as the creation of a permanent establishment, an employment tax audit or the payment of a significant related penalty all occurring at the corporate level.
Companies, recognizing the spectrum of reputational, personal and financial risks related to tax, are making strong efforts to be compliant. There is an increasing acceptance that such issues are becoming increasingly urgent from both a reputational and a financial perspective.
How we are helping companies
Our Human Capital network embeds processes and technology that will help companies to identify and manage short-term business traveler-related risks before they occur. Where controversy has already arisen, our global Tax Controversy network can use our insights into the culture and processes and relationships with each key tax administration to remediate issues. With prior year issues being rapidly unearthed, and with tax administrations focusing on this issue more than ever before, the time to act is now.
Find your nearest Tax contact:
Find out about our Law services.
Tax guides and resources
Connect with us
Stay connected with us through social media, email alerts or webcasts. Or download our EY Insights app for mobile devices.
Striking a balance
Our new report asks how far HMRC should dictate how businesses should operate, and whether tax administrators should use compliance rather than legislative change to achieve their objectives. It’s about striking the right balance between enabling and mandating 1.5Mb.
Read all our commentary, thought leadership and insight into Budget 2016.
Mobile Tax Insights