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Understanding Country-by-Country Reporting for Transfer Pricing

Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS, it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.

The BEPS project is designed to curb tax avoidance. “No single rule or provision is the root cause of base erosion,” the OECD has explained. “It is the interplay among different rules that generate base erosion and profit shifting: domestic laws and rules, international standards, and the lack of data and information.” As part of BEPS, the OECD recommended that jurisdictions adopt CbC reporting by multinational groups to report their business activity for each country where they operate. The U.S. has signed on.

IRS regulations
The IRS issued regulations last year. The “ultimate parent entity” of a multinational entity (MNE) generally must file a CbC report with the IRS. The MNE group must include at least one business entity organized in, or be a tax resident of, a jurisdiction outside the U.S., and must have revenues of $850 million or more for its preceding annual accounting period.

Special form
The IRS is developing a special form for CbC reporting. This is Form 8975, Country-by-Country Report. Currently, Form 8975 is in draft form.

Form 8975 is to be used to report a U.S. MNE group’s income, taxes paid, and other indicators of economic activity on a country-by-country basis. The reporting period covered by Form 8975 is the period of the ultimate parent’s annual applicable financial statement that ends with or within the parent’s tax year, or, if the parent does not prepare an annual applicable financial statement, the ultimate parent’s tax year.

The IRS generally will make the reports available to tax authorities. However, there will be limits on disclosure. The IRS has explained that the data captured by Form 8975 will be used for “high-level assessment of transfer pricing, and other base erosion and profit-shifting tax risks, and for economic and statistical analysis.”

Filing period
As of September 1, 2017, Form 8975 may be filed for a reporting period with the income tax return for the tax year of the ultimate parent of the U.S. MNE with or within which the reporting period ends. In Revenue Procedure 2017-23, the IRS allowed U.S. ultimate parents to file Form 8975 for periods beginning after January 1, 2016, and prior to the required reporting period.

Other developments
Recently, a group of lawmakers in Congress asked the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to look at country-by-country reporting. The lawmakers recommended that FASB “require multinational corporations to disclose their income, assets, number of employees, and taxes paid on an annual, country-by-country basis.”

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