Preparing for Country-by-Country Reporting in 2016
Country-by Country (CbC) reporting is on the horizon for large US multi-national enterprises (MNE). As part of the broader Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) project undertaken by the Group of 20 (G20) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States will soon require the parent entity of large US MNE groups to file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a new annual report that requires information regarding income earned and taxes paid by the group on a country-by-country basis. The new reporting requirements would generally apply to US MNE groups with annual revenues of $850 million or more.
Late last December, Treasury published proposed regulations detailing the future reporting process. Recently, Robert Stack, Treasury deputy assistant secretary (international tax affairs) indicated that Treasury anticipates issuing final regulations by June 30, 2016, which would be effective for US MNEs with tax years beginning after that date. (Stack’s comments are available at Tax Notes, here and here.) Because the US reporting requirements will go into effect in the middle of 2016, some US MNE groups have expressed concern that other tax jurisdictions may require subsidiaries to file CbC reports.
Both Treasury and the IRS believe that CbC reporting will assist in better enforcement of the US tax laws, though there is some concern that information collected may be too readily shared with other tax jurisdictions that may not safeguard such information as carefully as the United States. Indeed, the Preamble to the new CbC reporting regulations states that CbC reports filed with the IRS may be exchanged with other reciprocating tax jurisdictions in which the US MNE group has operations, and Treasury expects that the competent authority will enter into competent authority agreements for the automatic exchange of CbC reports under the authority of information agreements to which the US is a party. The Preamble also provides that information exchanged may not be disclosed or used for non-tax purposes.
Mr. Stack recently affirmed the priority of the confidentiality of information gathered through CbC reporting, stating that the United States would have the right to stop sharing information if the other tax jurisdiction were to disclose it. The issue of confidentiality of CbC reporting was recently highlighted by efforts in the European Union to provide for the public disclosure of CbC reporting.