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Fundación IC: BEPS Project

General approach

The Fundación Impuestos y Competitividad is of the view that close monitoring is required of the measures proposed in the various documents published within the framework of the OECD’s Action Plan on BEPS, aimed at combating so-called “Aggressive Tax Planning” (hereinafter ATP”).

The Action Plan on BEPS, as we all know, is made up of 15 actions intended to address different aspects which the OECD considers important in combating Aggressive Tax Planning (ATP), which is understood to refer primarily to operations which, without being “illegal” as such, give rise to structures which fail to meet the taxation standards which administrations consider appropriate or desirable.

The BEPS project is establishing a new paradigm in taxation and, in particular, a new approach to international taxation, in which the emphasis is on putting a stop to situations of non-taxation and untaxed income and, naturally, to set-ups aimed at tax evasion/avoidance. In this new scenario, it is probably multi-national groups which are most affected by the Action Plan on BEPS, although any structure involving cross-border transactions and investments, and a great many domestic operations too, will fall within the scope of the 15 actions on BEPS or several of such actions.

The recent publication by the European Union Commission of its Anti-Tax Avoidance Package (ATAP), which has already given rise to the approval of the Tax Evasion Directive, is an attempt by the EU to ensure that the BEPS measures are implemented within the EU in an orderly manner.

The measures proposed by the EU Commission to combat ATP coincide to a great extent with those contained in the Action Plan on BEPS. In any case, since it is quite clear that both sets of measures have the same objective, it is appropriate that both should be referred to as BEPS actions or BEPS measures.

Fundación IC’s BEPS Project

The new fiscal paradigm which the BEPS actions seek to establish will have an impact on the capacity of companies to compete in the market and on the competitiveness of the Spanish economy in relation to the economies of other states, as a result of which its analysis falls well within the remit of the Fundación IC.

The Board of Trustees has therefore commissioned a working group made up of professionals from the eight Fundación IC member firms to undertake a project consisting of the analysis and monitoring of these BEPS measures. The objective of this BEPS Project is essentially as follows:

  • Identify the aspects of the Action Plan on BEPS which are causing most concern in the business world (legal security, retroactive application of new rules and/interpretative criteria, co-operative relationship with the tax administration, poorly coordinated or disorderly implementation of BEPS measures in different jurisdictions, etc.).
  • Similarly, identify those aspects of the Action Plan on BEPS which provide an opportunity to improve our tax system and the way in which it functions, through more transparent bi-directional measures between the administration and taxpayers which reinforce collaboration between the main players in international taxation: taxpayers, tax consultants, and the administration.
  • Identify which aspects of Spanish tax legislation have already been affected or could be affected in the future by the implementation of BEPS measures.
  • Identify the criteria being adhered to in the interpretation and application of tax rules by the Spanish tax agency in line with the current BEPS trend which are likely to have a particular impact on the competitiveness of Spanish companies.
  • Draw up specific proposals on ways in which the BEPS measures can be implemented, under both the domestic and the European Union plans, including, where appropriate, possible legislative proposals.

Project results and timeline

With the project having been thus defined in general terms, it will take form, specifically, through a series of papers analysing the different actions under the Plan and under the Directive, the timing of publication of which will depend on the speed at which the various actions and related recommendations are developed – which will undoubtedly differ from one to another – and the internal organization of the working group which is to undertake this project. The aim is nevertheless to consider all the actions and come up with an approach which is technically sound and, at the same time, practical, and, above all, to present proposals for Spain’s adaptation to the BEPS model which, while respecting our country’s international commitments and the interests of the Public Treasury, do not have a serious adverse impact on the competitiveness of our economy.

The approach adopted should be one of maximum respect for the work of the legislature and tax administration, but at the same time, the project should be aimed at finding the best possible solutions for the Spanish tax system, which should be based systematically on an open dialogue with all social stakeholders who play a part in the management and application of such system.

BEPS Action Plan: A must-do reflection

Como lógico colofón del proyecto desarrollado, en el mes de junio de 2017 se editó por la Fundación Impuestos y Competitividad el libro que recoge el documento final del proyecto. Acogiendo y actualizando las ponencias individuales elaboradas entre septiembre de 2016 y mayo de 2017, y completando las mismas con algunas reflexiones de carácter general, presentadas como introducción y conclusiones del trabajo.

De las mismas cabe entresacar estas líneas:

El Proyecto BEPS establece las reglas del nuevo escenario en el que administraciones, grupos multinacionales y el resto de contribuyentes deberán convivir de la manera más ordenada posible. Los principios que deben regir parecen claros: prevalencia de la sustancia sobre la forma e imposibilidad de una planificación fiscal ajena al negocio y a la realidad económica. Preocupa, no obstante, que la proliferación de normas complejas y descoordinadas entre las distintas jurisdicciones puedan resultar en un incremento de la inseguridad jurídica y, por ende, de la litigiosidad en el ámbito tributario.

Ojalá que este trabajo ayude a limitar los riesgos que se apuntan y estimule en ese sentido el celo de los distintos interlocutores sociales con protagonismo en la delimitación y aplicación del nuevo modelo de sistema tributario, que pretende implantar los postulados del plan de acción BEPS.