USCIB’s Annual OECD Tax Conference Focuses on Pillars One and Two

OECD’s Pascal Saint Amans

Following a landmark OECD/G20 statement and implementation plan announced on October 8, 2021, multinational companies are now facing a global minimum corporate tax on their operations with multilaterally agreed limitations on said tax. The implementation plan at national levels, known as Pillar Two, seeks to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy and was endorsed by G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at their October 2021 meeting.

Such was the backdrop and main focus of USCIB’s 15th annual OECD International Tax Conference at the Four Seasons in Washington DC earlier this week (June 27-28), where more than 200 tax experts, OECD officials, multinational companies, as well as foreign and domestic government representatives gathered for the two-day event to discuss pressing global tax issues and developments, including Pillars One and Two.

“This conference took place at another critical point in the 2022 OECD timeline for designing Pillars One and Two for consensus in the Inclusive Framework and, eventually, implementation at the national level,” said USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Rick Minor.

According to Itai Grinberg, deputy assistant secretary for multilateral tax office of tax policy at the U.S. Treasury, ““Pillar Two helps level the playing field. It will ensure that all U.S. and foreign headquartered MNCs face a common level of minimum taxation. And in doing so, this deal, as it has come to be, really answers the single most frequently heard international tax policy request made by the U.S. multinational business community for the entire course of the 21st century.”

“The stability of the international tax architecture is at stake here,” said Martin Kreienbaum, director general of international taxation at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance. “I think the international tax architecture is the predictability of tax burden for tax payers from a tax payer perspective. But it’s also the avoidance and absence of double and multiple taxation. I think that is the main objective, the main purpose, under which we have the discussions in the inclusive framework.”

Many questions still remain around Pillar One however, especially in terms of better multilateral coordination around multiple and double taxation and how to build trust with tax payers.

“Together with the agreement on October 8, we had a detailed implementation plan with an extremely ambitious political timeline,” reflected Pascal Saint Amans, Director of the OECD Center for Tax Policy and Administration. “Keep in mind that the overall debate and the deal was still concluded against the background of transatlantic tensions with the previous administration and the need to show that we are restoring better relationships among the countries at stake and cooling down on threats of multilateral measures or trade sanctions.”

Other panels during the conference focused on the tax implications of an increased global mobility of workers arising from the pandemic, tax and climate change, a global minimum tax, dispute prevention and resolution, and much more.

USCIB members from Deloitte, Google, Procter & Gamble and Ernst and Young, among others, joined as panelists to contribute their companies’ perspectives on these pressing taxation issues.

More information on the agenda, speakers, and topics of discussion can be found here.

USCIB is the national affiliate of Business at OECD (known as BIAC), the official multi-jurisdictional business advisor the to OECD.

Featured speakers included:

  • Grace Perez-Navarro – Deputy Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • John Peterson – Head of Unit, Aggressive Tax Planning, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
  • Achim Pross – Head of International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Pascal Saint-Amans – Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Rick Minor – Vice President & International Tax Counsel, USCIB
  • Itai Grinberg – Deputy Assistant Secretary (International Tax Affairs), U.S. Treasury
  • John Hughes – Director of Field Operations, Northeastern Compliance Practice Area (Mid-Atlantic) (LB&I), IRS
  • Rebecca Kysar – Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, U.S. Treasury
  • Michael Plowgian – Co-Chair, OECD Task Force on the Digital Economy and Counsellor, Office of Tax Policy, US Treasury
  • Isaac Wood – Attorney-Advisor, Office of Tax Policy, US Treasury
  • Martin Kreienbaum – Director General, International Taxation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany
  • Fabrizia Lapecorella – Director General of Finance of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and Chair of OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs
  • Gaël Perraud – Co–Chair, OECD Task Force on the Digital Economy; Director of International Taxation and European Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Finance, France
  • Mike Williams – Director, Business and International Tax, HM Treasury, United Kingdom
  • Barbara Angus – Global Tax Policy Leader, Ernst & Young LLP
  • Mary Bennett – Senior Counsel, Baker & McKenzie
  • Ryan Bowen – Senior Manager, Washington National Tax Office, Deloitte
  • Nate Carden – Partner, Skadden
  • Liz Chien – Global Head of Tax and Chief Tax Counsel, Protocol Labs Inc.
  • Tracee Fultz – Global Transfer Pricing Leader, Ernst & Young LLP
  • John Harrington – Partner, Dentons US LLP
  • Hannah Hawkins – Principal, KPMG Washington National Tax, KPMG
  • Harris Horowitz – Managing Director, Global Head of Tax Policy & Innovation, BlackRock, Inc.
  • Tom Hutchinson – Vice President, Finance, Google
  • Mark Martin – Principal, Washington National Tax, KPMG
  • Tim McDonald – Chairperson, USCIB Tax Committee and Senior Vice President, Finance & Accounting, Global Taxes, The Procter & Gamble Company
  • Alan McLean – Chairperson, Business at OECD Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs and Executive Vice President, Tax and Controller, Shell International Limited
  • Will Morris – Deputy Global Tax Policy Leader, PwC
  • Loren Ponds – Member and Co-Lead of the Tax Policy Practice, Miller & Chevalier
  • Tom Roesser – GM, Tax Policy Counsel, Microsoft
  • Danielle Rolfes – Co-Partner in Charge, Washington National Tax-International Tax, KPMG
  • Sonja Schiller – Head of Global Tax Controversy, Netflix
  • Daniel Smith – Director, International Tax Planning & Policy, Google
  • Liz Stevens – Member, Caplin & Drysdale
  • Bret Weaver – Partner, KPMG
  • Louise Weingrod – Vice Chairperson, USCIB Tax Committee and Vice President, Global Taxation, Johnson & Johnson
  • Lisa Wolski – Head of Government Affairs and Senior Executive Counsel, General Electric

USCIB Tax Committee Work Featured in Bloomberg, Tax Notes International

USCIB and the USCIB Taxation Committee appeared prominently in the tax press this week—Tax Notes International and Bloomberg Tax—with coverage of a USCIB letter filed with the U.S. Treasury Department on April 25.  According to USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Rick Minor, this was a unilateral consultation and not a letter related to a public consultation that USCIB’s Tax Committee is currently working on.

Bloomberg Tax quoted Minor and excerpts of USCIB’s letter in its article, Amount B Could Involve Routine Function List, Treasury Told. “Our members consider Amount B to be, as it has been described in the 2020 Pillar One blueprint, one of the key benefits of a Pillar One solution,” he said. “The concept is directly related to one of the fundamental goals of Pillar One, improved tax certainty.”

Click here for the Tax Notes International story. Below is the Bloomberg Tax coverage with quotes from Minor and excerpts from the USCIB letter to the Treasury Department.

Bloomberg Tax: Amount B Could Involve Routine Function List, Treasury Told

By Natalie Olivo · Apr 26, 2022, 8:01 PM EDT ·  Listen to article

An approach for determining Amount B — the routine portion of profits subject to allocation under a global corporate tax plan — could include an agreed list of functions related to these earnings, a U.S. business association told the U.S. Treasury Department.

The U.S. Council for International Business sent Treasury a letter Monday that listed marketing and distribution functions that relate to normal, or routine, returns that fall under Amount B of a tax agreement reached in October by an inclusive framework of nearly 140 jurisdictions. Amount B would simplify and streamline the application of the arm’s-length principle to in-country baseline marketing and distribution activities, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which led negotiations on the tax rewrite.

Amount B falls under the overhaul’s first pillar alongside Amount A — a separate provision that involves a narrow departure from traditional arm’s-length transfer pricing rules, which divide intercompany profits based on how unrelated parties would behave. Under Amount A, large companies would reallocate a portion of their above-normal returns to market jurisdictions where they have customers but not a physical presence.

The USCIB told Treasury in its letter that Amount B must be anchored in the arm’s-length principle. The group included a list of entrepreneurial functions — which commonly generate residual returns that would fall under Amount A — and a list of routine marketing and distribution functions that would relate to normal returns under Amount B.

“These two categories cover a significant volume of the transfer pricing controversies of our members which we understand Pillar One is intended to largely eliminate,” the USCIB wrote.

The group’s list of entrepreneurial functions included final decision-making on large discounts and nonstandard contracts and setting global or regional branding, marketing, pricing and promotional strategies. As for routine marketing and distribution functions, the group’s list included bearing limited market and business risks, as the profits of routine distributors are fixed, in addition to not owning any high-value intangible property.

These lists were compiled by the USCIB’s members from company transfer pricing files, meaning they represent “functions that are audit tested and generally represent clear distinctions between entrepreneurial and routine functions,” according to the group’s letter.

Rick Minor, vice president and international tax counsel at the USCIB, told Law360 on Tuesday that his group wanted to be helpful in the absence of a formal consultation to offer timely guidance on Amount B to delegates of the inclusive framework.

“Our members consider Amount B to be, as it has been described in the 2020 Pillar One blueprint, one of the key benefits of a Pillar One solution,” he said. “The concept is directly related to one of the fundamental goals of Pillar One, improved tax certainty.”

So far, the OECD has only released draft rules aimed at helping countries implement Amount A in addition to the overhaul’s second pillar, which involves minimum tax rules. The organization has also released public feedback on its Amount A draft rules, including calls for guidance that would let multinational corporations seek advance certainty on how tax administrations would apply the new rules, including a proposed anti-abuse provision.

Meanwhile, KPMG issued a proposal for Amount A that was released Tuesday by Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy. According to the firm, the proposal involves identifying entities to fund Amount A and determining the share of Amount A that would be allocated to each payer entity.

This proposal would use a formulaic approach that approximates a “market-connection” test without the need to look at transfer pricing documentation or make factual judgment calls, according to KPMG.

Treasury didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

USCIB Leads Business Policy Roundtable as Part of Brazil’s Accession to OECD 

The Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtable brought together U.S. and Brazilian government officials, the OECD and industry representatives in early November to discuss taxation reform and best practices as Brazil seeks to accede to the OECD.  According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, this is the latest of the several forums held by the Brazil Roundtable to explore changes to policy and practice – in line with OECD standards and best practices – that benefit businesses and employees while driving inclusive economic growth in Brazil.

Isaias Coelho, special advisor to Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, and Sandro de Vargas Serpa, undersecretary of Taxation and Litigation at the Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB), detailed the regulations and legislative proposals under consideration that would simplify taxes at the state, federal and municipal levels, reforming consumption, income and international taxation practices.

“Brazil is currently undertaking significant regulatory reforms consistent with OECD guidelines including Recommendations of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance,” said Coelho. The ultimate hope, according to Mario Sergio Carraro Telles, executive manager of Economics for the Brazil Industry Association, is to adopt laws that simplify the tax system and reduce costs and uncertainty for companies.

Brazil has been working since 2018 in a dialogue with OECD on transfer pricing, which has evolved into a project aimed at aligning the existing transfer pricing regime with the OECD standard.  This joint project was made possible with the support of UK Prosperity Fund and other OECD countries who share their experience and best practices with Brazil. The United States has bolstered this process through technical assistance and training, asserted John Hughes, director of Advanced Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

According to OECD Senior Advisor Tomas Balco, current policies in Brazil end up double taxing multinationals, deterring foreign investment and preventing Brazil from participating fully in global value chains. Luiz de Medeiros, Brazil country manager for IBM and a USCIB member, provided details from an industry perspective, expressing “great hope” that Brazil laws can be aligned with OECD norms.  Toward that end, Flávio Antônio Gonçalves Martins Araújo, head of the International Relations Office at RFB, reported that Brazil Administration currently is working on a legislative proposal to submit to Congress and start a political discussion in 2022 on a new transfer pricing law.

“It is clear from the speakers that the mood is right for reform in Brazil, and efforts are being made despite the economic challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Clark. “We hope these roundtables can inform and inspire in that regard, offering solutions for change that ease the economic burden for all.”

USCIB led the meeting, along with cohorts from the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brazil’s National Industry Confederation (CNI). As the official U.S. representative to Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB has been actively monitoring Brazil’s accession request to the OECD in order to advance business interest.

Additional roundtable discussions will be held throughout 2022, covering investment and trade, environment and sustainable development, as well as innovation and intellectual property.  Digital and regulatory issues were discussed earlier this year.

USCIB Acknowledges the G20 Finance Ministers Endorsement of the October Two-Pillar Global Tax Proposals

Washington D.C., October 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) notes the endorsement by the G-20 Finance Ministers today of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework landmark deal announced on October 8. The deal, agreed by 136 countries, including the US, establishes a new framework for international tax reform represented by two distinct proposals or pillars. The two-pillar solution will be delivered to the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome at the end of the month while the intensive work on the design and drafting of the numerous parts of the deal continues into 2022.

“The OECD has once again reached a significant milestone on schedule and was able to add a handful of key countries into the fold of the deal agreement since July,” said USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Rick Minor.

The October deal terms include a long list of technical work that must still be completed in relatively short order according to the OECD timeline. USCIB Tax Committee company members are positioned to directly advise the OECD drafting teams through its membership in the Business at OECD Taxation Committee. According to Minor, “putting aside the ambitious timelines through 2022, our members will be focused on the development of the design and details for key aspects of each of the pillars. With respect to Pillar One, this includes, but is not limited to, dispute prevention and resolution mechanisms, the tax liability rules, revenue sourcing, the marketing and distribution safe harbor and so-called Amount B. We are also mindful of the fact that the drafting of the Pillar Two rules is on a parallel path with the numerous GILTI deliberations in Congress this fall which arguably puts pressure on that process if there is no coordination in review.” USCIB will remain engaged in the OECD rule design process through Business at OECD and directly, through the appropriate engagement.

About USCIB

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Contact:

Rick Minor

VP and International Tax Counsel

rminor@uscib.org

USCIB Meets With New OECD Secretary General Cormann on His First Official DC Visit

L-R: Kennedy, Robinson, SG Cormann, Johnston meet in the OECD Washington DC office in July 2021

USCIB members joined a first meeting and dialogue with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 21 in Washington DC. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and Citi Managing Director and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Charles R. Johnston, led the discussion, along with USCIB Board Member and Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the Chamber Myron Brilliant.

As the U.S. affiliate of and representative to BIAC, the official business spokes-organization to the OECD, USCIB values and engages with OECD on a wide range of cross-cutting issues. In light of the U.S. chairmanship of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on October 5–6 in Paris, the meeting offered USCIB Committee Chairs and other active member representatives the opportunity to highlight their priorities for OECD’s policy recommendations.

SG Cormann described his leadership priorities for OECD, which center around restoring economic growth and recovery, including through multilateral trade. He highlighted the thought leadership role of the OECD in G7 and G20 discussions of a global corporate minimum tax rate. He also discussed the potential for OECD to contribute to a possible similar global conversation on carbon pricing and carbon border adjustment. Other topics covered included responsible business conduct; tackling illicit trade; and innovation and digital economy.

In his closing remarks, Robinson stated, “Imagine what could be accomplished if all multilateral institutions followed the OECD’s consultative model to work with business and co-create solutions to urgent challenges!”

Robinson thanked Cormann, and said that USCIB and the American business community are dedicated to working with OECD through BIAC to show the way through and past the pandemic on fundamentals like regulatory coherence and combatting corruption, as well as on emerging technologies and issues.

In the News: USCIB Quoted in Tax Notes Following OECD Global Tax Update

USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Rick Minor was quoted in a lead article in Tax Notes on July 6 regarding the significant global tax update statement made on July 5 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD inclusive framework on base erosion and profit shifting confirmed that 130 of its 139 members have agreed on key elements of the plan, which aims to address the tax challenges of an increasingly digital and globalized economy.

According to the OECD, the 130 countries and jurisdictions represent more than ninety-percent of global GDP.

In the Tax Notes article, Minor said the USCIB’s members will follow the inclusive framework’s progress closely. “I understand the next significant document will be the design and implementation plan mentioned in the statement,” he said. “We should expect consultation with the business community will continue more earnestly now.”

USCIB Tax Committee members Will Morris (PwC) and Robert Stack (Deloitte) were also quoted.

Carol Doran Klein Retires, USCIB Welcomes Rick Minor as New Tax Lead

Carol Doran Klein
Carol Doran Klein

USCIB is pleased to announce that Richard Minor (who goes by Rick) has joined as its next International Tax Counsel upon Carol Doran Klein’s retirement.

“Carol has contributed immeasurably to the strengthening of the USCIB tax practice and we are grateful for her professional contributions and personal friendship over the last ten years,” said Peter Robinson, USCIB’s president and CEO. He added, “While we are saddened to see Carol go, Rick is a worthy successor and an excellent addition to the USCIB team. He brings a wealth of technical knowledge on international tax matters, experience in OECD tax policy and process, and a robust foreign government and European Commission network. I’m confident his expertise and international perspective will serve USCIB members well.”

Rick Minor
Rick Minor

Minor has deep experience in both the private and public sectors, having held senior tax roles with three large companies in Europe, in addition to serving as a Digital Policy Advisor to the Government of Luxembourg on a broad range of cross-border business issues with particular regard to EU data privacy, VAT and digital tax policy. His corporate background included positions as Vice President, Group Tax Counsel and Government Affairs for AOL Europe; Head of Tax, EMEA for ArcelorMittal; and Director of Tax, EMEA for Honeywell Europe. Minor also served as Director of International Cooperation and Business Investment for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, working to attract U.S. and foreign corporate investment to North Carolina. Minor got his bachelors at Duke University, his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his LL.M. in tax at Georgetown. He began his career as an attorney specializing in international tax planning with global law firms in DC, Munich and London. Doran Klein and Minor served together on the OECD Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for VAT.

Minor assumes management of the USCIB Committee on Taxation, which promotes sound, appropriate and consistent international tax policy in the U.S. and overseas, including minimizing double taxation. The committee is chaired by Bill Sample, tax policy advisor at Microsoft Corporation, and encompasses leading tax professionals from USCIB member companies and organizations. The committee is especially active on OECD matters, in view of USCIB’s role as the American affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), and organizes a yearly conference bringing together USCIB members with top tax officials from the OECD and member governments.

USCIB Submits Comments to USTR on Proposed Digital Services Taxes

USCIB provided comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the proposed Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) of several countries, including Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

USCIB’s submission focused on whether these countries violated Section 301 while encouraging the U.S. to seek a multilateral solution.

“The DSTs under investigation are a poor choice to address the tax issues arising from digitalization of the economy and will work against the economic recovery they are intended to help fund,” said USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Rather, the U.S. should work cooperatively to find an appropriate multilateral solution to taxing the digitalizing economy that does not unduly burden U.S. interests and fosters certainty for business.”

Business at OECD Head Shares 2020 Policy Priorities With USCIB

Business at OECD’s Russel Mills (left, center) with IOE’s Shea GoPaul and USCIB policy staff

Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) Russel Mills visited USCIB’s Washington DC and New York offices the week of February 3 to update staff on Business at OECD and OECD priorities for the year.

Mills shared that environment, biodiversity, plastics and climate change issues are moving to the top of the agenda, however there will also be a mushrooming of digitization plans and digital economy work related to changing business models and digitally enabled companies. Mills also noted that policies around digital taxation and re-skilling will be on top of the agenda for both organizations.

“We really valued our time with Russel, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on our respective organizations’ policy priorities,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB looks forward to a productive year working with BIAC to help drive the work of the OECD.”

Robinson Kicks Off 2020 With OECD, ICC France, ICC Germany 

ICC-Germany staff (Secretary-General Oliver Wieck, center) with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (right) in Berlin

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held its annual consultation with Business at OECD on January 13 in Paris under the theme, Role of Business in Lifelong Opportunities: People First Policies to Bridge Divides. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and AT&T Senior Vice President Karim Lesina provided a kick-off presentation on behalf of industry, followed by remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and Business at OECD’s Chairman Phil O’Reilly and Secretary-General Russell Mills.

Recommendations by Business at OECD focused on the value of relying on open markets on trade, investment, taxation and development initiatives; ensuring a people-first approach to developing new approaches to the Future of Work; and incentivizing and driving innovation in the health and environment areas in the 5G generation.

According to Robinson, it was the best-attended consultation to date, with a strong business delegation, senior OECD staff including all four Deputy Secretaries-General and OECD Ambassadors from nearly all OECD member countries. In helping to set the stage, Robinson emphasized the continued commitment of the American business community to open markets and multilateral approaches and institutions. “The necessity for inclusive multilateralism, whereby all stakeholders—including business—have a seat at the table to pursue societal challenges together is crucial,” said Robinson, who also praised the OECD in setting an appropriate example in this regard.

Lesina provided the perspective of a leading modern media company that is investing globally while driving innovation in life-long learning opportunities for its employees.  He highlighted that increased convergence and digitalization have helped create a truly global economy, providing consumers today with a unique opportunity to benefit from cross-border activity best cultivated by open market policies. Lesina emphasized the need for flexible policy and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation and drive creativity and underscored the vital role of the OECD in delivering the benefits of the digital economy to consumers everywhere through forward-looking and evidence-based policymaking.

“The Consultation provides an excellent opportunity for business to interact with OECD staff and country Ambassadors,” said Robinson. Robinson had several meetings with OECD management staff to discuss Business at OECD and USCIB priorities.

While in Paris, Robinson also visited USCIB’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) National Committee counterpart, ICC-France, and met with the new Secretary-General of ICC-France, Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs, to discuss mutual interests and priorities and cooperation in policy areas including trade and environment.

Robinson then traveled to Berlin to meet with several of USCIB’s global affiliate counterparts in Germany: ICC-Germany, the German Employers Federation (BDA) and the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). Secretary-General of ICC-Germany Oliver Wieck, Director of Communications Katrin Rupprecht and staff organized a discussion forum at which Robinson addressed U.S. Trade Policy in 2020. ICC-Germany members including Siemens, Thyssenkrupp and BDI attended as did Dr. Berend Diekmann, head of division for USA/Canada/Mexico from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Finally, Robinson met with BDA CEO Steffen Kampeter and DIHK Director of ATA Carnet Dr. Kornelia Ferati.