QI and CRS Updates

IRS opens QI portal for the Responsible Officer Certification and published new FAQs

On 4 April 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has opened the QI portal and published new FAQs regarding the upcoming QI Responsible Officer certification. A new section titled “Periodic Certification” has been added to the existing FAQs.

Please refer to the following link for access to the updated FAQs.

Additionally, the IRS has updated the QI User Guide and made it available on its website (see “Publication 5262”). You can find the updated QI User Guide here.

OECD news regarding CRS

On 5 April 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published an updated list of all activated CRS agreements on its website.

Please refer to the following link for access to the updated list.

There are now more than 2700 bilateral agreements in place.

Additionally, the OECD published an updated version of the CRS Implementation Handbook, which can be accessed under the following link.

The Implementation Handbook is a guidance for governments to refer to in terms of their implementation of CRS rules into their local legislation and guidance, as well as a practical overview of CRS for the financial sector and the wider public.

We will continue to keep you updated as we follow and analyze these updates over the next few days. In the meantime, we are happy to answer any of your QI- and CRS-related questions.

Contact

Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72
bruno.hollenstein@ch.pwc.com

EU Direct Tax Group: January – February 2018

The following topics are covered in this issue of EU Tax News:

CJEU Cases

  • Germany – CJEU referral of German dividend withholding tax regime to in the case of a Canadian pension fund
  • Germany – AG Opinion on the compatibility of German Trade Tax exemption with EU law
  • Netherlands – CJEU judgment on compatibility of Dutch group taxation regime with EU fundamental freedoms
  • Spain – European Commission opens infringement procedure against Spanish state liability regime

National Developments

  • Italy – Italian court rules on incompatibility of presumption of abuse/tax evasion with EU freedom of establishment
  • Spain – Appeal at the Spanish Supreme Court against Andalusian tax on deposits on financial entities
  • Spain – Appeal at the Spanish Supreme Court on the rules to eliminate international double taxation

EU Developments

  • EU – European Commission publishes Roadmap on Evaluation of Administrative Cooperation in Direct Taxation
  • EU – European Commission announces comprehensive fitness check on public reporting by companies within the EU
  • EU – European Parliament sets up TAXE 3 Special Committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance

Read the full newsletter

This bi-monthly newsletter is prepared by members of PwC’s pan-European EU Direct Tax Group (EUDTG) network.

To receive this newsletter and our newsalerts automatically and free of charge, please send an e-mail to: eudtg@nl.pwc.com with “subscription EU Tax News”. For previous editions of PwC’s EU Tax News see: www.pwc.com/eudtg

Contact Us

Armin Marti
Partner Tax & Legal Services, Leader Tax Policy
+41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com

Geneva International VAT Breakfast: E-invoicing & hot topics in indirect taxes

E-invoicing & hot topics in indirect taxes

So far, 2018 has been a very dense year for indirect tax professionals with various hot topics arising. In Switzerland, for instance, the recent clear rejection of the initiative “No Billag” will lead to changes in the scope of the radio-television fees that will be applicable to businesses as from 1 January 2019.

At the same time, compliance with e-invoicing and e-archiving obligations are being introduced in various jurisdictions such as Italy. During our upcoming event, we will go through the new rules and the compliance obligations across EU and Switzerland in terms of e-invoicing and e-archiving.

We will also follow up on the definition of fixed establishment providing insight on the recent developments particularly in Poland. The International VAT Breakfast will also feature recent hot topics that can impact businesses operating worldwide, such as the EU commission proposal for flexible VAT rates, the measures to strengthen VAT fraud prevention adopted by EU and non-EU countries and the introduction of the reverse charge mechanism for imports of goods in Portugal as from 1 March 2018.

Finally, as always, we will share with you the most significant developments with respect to the EU and Swiss case law.

To register for this event: Click here

Contact us

Patricia More
Tel.+41 58 792 95 07
patricia.more@ch.pwc.com

FATCA Certification: Extension of Deadline and Draft Certification Texts Published

On 16 March 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) published the FATCA Responsible Officer certification texts on its website (in draft form). Additionally, the IRS extended the deadline for the FATCA Responsible Officer certification. Please refer to the following link for access to the draft FATCA certification texts as well as the notice regarding the deadline extension.

The IRS also announced that the IRS’s FATCA Certification Portal (“IRS Portal”) will not be available until July 2018 (at the earliest). Based on the newly provided information, we understand that the IRS will grant FATCA Responsible Officers an extension of at least three months (as per the activation date of the IRS Portal) for the FATCA Certification. This means that the FATCA Certification deadline will be extended from 1 July 2018 to 1 October 2018 (assuming the IRS Portal is activated on 1 July 2018).

Furthermore, the IRS published different draft certifications texts for the various Financial Institution categories (e.g., Reporting Model II FFI, Local FFI, etc.). An initial review of the draft certification texts indicates no unexpected surprises in terms of the content or scope of the FATCA Certification.

As we continue to analyze the certification texts, we will actively post any new and relevant information. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us in case of any questions.

Contact

Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72
bruno.hollenstein@ch.pwc.com

Melanie Taosuwan
+41 58 792 4249
melanie.taosuwan@ch.pwc.com

Manage VAT risk and gain valuable business insight with VATwatch

What’s the problem?

Being in control of your VAT data is becoming more crucial than ever. This stems from the fact that the tax authorities could have more information about your company’s VAT operations than you do. How is this possible?

It’s down to the growing complexity of the indirect tax compliance and control framework and the emergence of new reporting requirements globally. In response to these developments, tax authorities are no longer conducting sample checks, since they can use instant access to a company’s ‘raw’ accounting data and scan them to assess its VAT liability.

If you don’t have proactive control processes to review your transactional data and take action before this information is transmitted to the tax authorities, the consequences can be severe: more VAT audits, and increasingly complex questions from the authorities.

How can VATwatch help?

PwC’s VATwatch solution gives you a global overview of your flows, and helps you detect potential discrepancies and mismatches within your data before they’re identified by the tax authorities.

How can VATwatch help you manage VAT risk and gain valuable business insight?

Read more about VATwatch here to find out more about the benefits of our solution.

Do not hesitate to contact us to further discuss your situation.

Patricia More, TLS VAT Partner, PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 95 07 / patricia.more@ch.pwc.com

Antoine Wüthrich, Risk Assurance Partner, PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 82 27 / antoine.wuthrich@ch.pwc.com

Luxembourg to introduce VAT grouping

The Luxembourg Ministry of Finance announced last week that Luxembourg will introduce VAT grouping. The draft law will be submitted in the coming weeks to Parliament and the EU consultation process will be run in parallel. The date of entry into force must still be confirmed and it depends on the speed and the outcome of the legislative process. Bearing in mind the speed with which Luxembourg used to adopt new legislation, the VAT grouping provisions may already be available in autumn 2018.

On the above basis, Swiss businesses having subsidiaries in Luxembourg should undertake an assessment of the prospective VAT benefits of the VAT group in Luxembourg and the impact on the input VAT recovery position. Additionally, attention should be given to the Luxembourg companies having branches in the Member States of the European Union, which implemented the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Skandia, i.e. branches of a VAT grouped head offices are to be viewed as a separate taxable person with the consequence that any cost allocations between the VAT grouped head office and its branch are considered to be supplies for VAT purposes subject to VAT under the reverse charge. If the activity of the branch is to a greater extent exempt from VAT, the reverse charge VAT due on the cost allocations from the head office would lead to additional irrecoverable VAT. This is dependent on the way and the extent in which the Member State of the branch has implemented the Skandia provisions (e.g. Italy has recently fully implemented the Skandia judgment).

With the above in mind, it is now a good time to undertake an impact assessment (i.e. benefit of VAT grouping of the Luxembourg established companies vs the impact of this VAT grouping on the European branches (i.e. reverse charge VAT liability) because of the Skandia provisions) and explore options for the most beneficial set-up.

We are happy to advise you further on the above.

Contact Us

Dr. Niklaus Honauer
Partner, Indirect Taxes, Zürich
+41 58 792 59 42
niklaus.honauer@ch.pwc.com

Marcella Dzienisik
Senior Manager, VAT for financial services, Zürich
+41 58 792 49 38
marcella.dzienisik@ch.pwc.com

OECD Issues Model for Mandatory Disclosure of CRS Avoidance Schemes

On 9 March 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) issued new model disclosure rules that require the mandatory disclosure of OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) avoidance schemes. The model will require lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, banks and other service providers to inform tax authorities of any schemes they put in place for their clients to avoid reporting under the CRS. Additionally, under the model, reporting of structures that hide beneficial owners of offshore assets, companies and trusts is required. The OECD also hopes to deter the design, marketing and use of these arrangements and schemes and bolster the overall integrity of the CRS.

The document issued by the OECD provides background information regarding the CRS anti-avoidance topic, includes text of the model itself, as well as a commentary to explain the model. As a next step, the model disclosure rules will be submitted to the G7 presidency in an effort to adopt a wider strategy of monitoring and acting upon market tendencies to avoid CRS reporting and hide assets offshore. Within the scope of the CRS anti-avoidance work, the OECD is also addressing cases of abuse of golden visas and other schemes used to circumvent CRS reporting.

Please refer to the link for access to the OECD’s new model disclosure rules.

Additionally, please refer to the link for access to the OECD’s accompanying FAQs.

Contact

Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72
bruno.hollenstein@ch.pwc.com

Radio and TV fees for businesses from 1 January 2019

The Swiss people firmly rejected the ‘No Billag’ initiative on 4 March 2018. As a result, all VAT Register-listed businesses with an global turnover of more than CHF 500,000 will have to pay a business licence fee, regardless of whether or how much TV and radio they actually receive. As the fee is linked to inclusion in the VAT Register and the company’s global revenue is taken into consideration, the maximum fee of CHF 35,590 may vastly exceed the VAT incurred in Switzerland.

The business fee from 1 January 2019
From 1 January 2019 all VAT Register-listed businesses with a global turnover of more than CHF 500,000 must pay not only VAT to the FTA, but also the licence fee, as per Article 70 of the Radio and Television Act (RTVG). This is assessed according to the company’s global revenue, and the VAT classification is not a factor in the calculation. The fee is graded as follows:

The regulation on the RTVG sets out several options for corporations to reduce the licence fee. If several companies apply group taxation in the sense of Article 13 of the VAT Act, the aggregate turnover of the VAT group is used in the assessment, so that only one fee is payable. In addition, a corporate fee group may be constituted by combining at least 30 businesses. In this case, too, only one fee is payable based on the consolidated revenue. The same principles apply for formation, changes in the composition and dissolution of the group as for group taxation.

As the business levy is linked to inclusion in the VAT Register, foreign businesses are liable for the fee, even if they are registered in Switzerland without a presence (i.e. a permanent establishment) for installation services or for the rendering of electronic services. As the reference point is the global revenue, minimal revenue in Switzerland may still trigger the business fee up to the maximum of CHF 35,590. It would be welcome if the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) were to investigate whether exemptions from or restrictions on the duty to pay the fee should be created for such companies.

Summary and recommendation
As every business listed in the VAT Register is liable for the fee, corporate groups should now review their consolidation options and perhaps opt for group taxation, even if this has not hitherto proven beneficial from a VAT perspective.

For further information, please contact your personal PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant or our VAT specialists. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Us

Michaela Merz
Partner, Leader Indirect Taxes, Zurich
+41 58 792 44 29
michaela.merz@ch.pwc.com

Dr. Niklaus Honauer
Partner, Indirect Taxes, Zürich
+41 58 792 59 42
niklaus.honauer@ch.pwc.com

Julia Sailer
Director, Leader VAT Compliance, Zurich
+41 58 792 44 57
julia.sailer@ch.pwc.com

 

OECD Releases New CRS Anti-Avoidance Consultation Document

On 19 February 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) released a consultation document on the misuse of residence by investment schemes to circumvent the OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”). As an increasing number of jurisdictions are offering so-called “residence by investment” (“RBI”) or “citizenship by investment” (“CBI”) schemes, the OECD is seeking public input to obtain further evidence on the misuse of such RBI/CBI schemes.

The OECD’s consultation document aims to:

  1. assess how RBI/CBI schemes are used to circumvent the CRS;
  2. identify the types of schemes that present a high risk of abuse;
  3. remind stakeholders of the importance of correctly applying relevant CRS due diligence procedures to aid in avoiding such abuse; and,
  4. explain the next steps the OECD plans to undertake to further address this issue.

The OECD will take public input into account in order to determine how to best proceed with the RBI/CBI schemes issue. Parties interested in providing input have until 19 March 2018 to email their comments to the OECD. All comments must be sent to CRS.Consultation@oecd.org and addressed to the International Co-operation and Tax Administration Division.

Please refer to the following link for access to the OECD’s consultation document.

US Tax Reform – Impact on US individual owners of foreign corporations (entrepreneurs and small business owners) residing outside of the United States

In an effort for the United States to become fiscally competitive on the world stage, the new US Tax Reform included provisions to move towards a territorial tax system by imposing a “toll tax” on undistributed profits on US-owned foreign corporations. Its purpose is particularly meant to stimulate the economy by motivating corporations to repatriate cash generated from previously untaxed profits abroad to invest in the economy and create jobs.

The following comments will provide a high level overview of the adverse and unfortunate effects US individual shareholders of foreign corporations will endure from the new toll tax and GILTI rules in comparison to US corporate shareholders.

Effective for the last taxable year of a foreign corporation that begins before January 1, 2018, the “toll tax” is a one-time tax of 15.5% on aggregate cash balances and 8% on all other undistributed profits earned since 1987 on the balance sheet of a foreign corporation as of December 31, 2017 or November 2, 2017, whichever is higher. Consequently, future dividend distributions to its US parent will be free from US taxes thus achieving the “territorial tax regime”.

Many of us may have read the headlines on how this toll tax, also referred as the Repatriation Tax, affects US corporate shareholders of foreign corporations, (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Apple: news article) However, the toll tax also applies to US individual shareholders of a foreign corporation that is a Controlled Foreign Corporation (a “CFC”).

A foreign corporation is a CFC if US shareholders own more than 50% of the total combined voting power of its stock or more than 50% of the stock’s total value. For this purpose, the law defines a US shareholder as any US person who owns 10% or more of a foreign corporation, including a US citizen, a green card holder or an individual who meets the physical presence test (or elects) to be considered as a tax resident of the United States. These rules also apply if a US person resides outside the United States due to the preservation of the worldwide tax regime for US individuals.

The method to arrive at the toll tax liability is relatively complex. The 15.5% and 8% effective rates are in fact prescribed as “equivalent percentages”. A deduction based on the US corporate tax rates is used to arrive at these effective rates. To the extent the toll tax is due for a CFC as of December 31, 2017, the deduction is based on the 2017 corporate tax rate of 35% (max) rather than the individual rate of 39.6% (max) and US individuals will have to follow that same corporate rate deduction mechanism using the 35%, not the individual rate. Hence, US individual shareholders of a CFC will bare a higher toll tax burden than that of a US corporate shareholder. While this provision provides for partial foreign tax credits to decrease the net toll tax due of US corporate shareholders, individuals are not allowed to claim foreign tax credits to reduce their net toll tax liabilities. In addition, US individuals will continue to pay US taxes on future dividend income, not previously taxed, received from their CFCs as the new dividend exemption only applies for US corporate shareholders.

An election to pay the toll tax liability in installments over an 8-year period is available and if such election is made, the first payment is due by the original due date of the shareholder’s 2017 US tax return determined without regard to any extension i.e. April 15, 2018 for a calendar year taxpayer. To date, it is unclear if individual US shareholders residing abroad will be allowed the regular automatic extension until June 15, 2018 to make their first toll tax payment.

Also included in the US Tax Reform are the GILTI implications. Going forward, applicable for the first tax year of a CFC beginning after December 31, 2017, the US will also require individual shareholders of the CFC to include in their annual taxable income a “global intangible low-taxed income” or GILTI; which notwithstanding its name, is not limited to intangibles nor low-taxed income. Prior to the GILTI rules, CFCs with active business income used to qualify for deferral from US taxes and received qualified dividend treatment (preferential tax rates if from a treaty country) at the time profits were distributed to their US shareholders.

The GILTI rules practically eliminate the active business income deferral. The treatment for US corporate shareholders is again different from that of a US individual. While a 50% deduction will be allowed to reduce the annual taxable GILTI including an available 80% deemed foreign tax credit against the GILTI tax for US corporate shareholders, US individuals subject to the GILTI tax will not benefit from such deduction nor the foreign tax credit. Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that the current organizational structure, involving a CFC with a 10% or more US individual shareholder (resident in or outside the United States), is carefully reviewed under the new rules all the while exploring certain available elections permitted by the IRS.

Every circumstance is different and the new rules are extremely complicated. Although US tax practitioners are still waiting for more guidance from the IRS and how it will particularly impact their clients, it is uncertain if the impact on individuals will be addressed further. It is crucial for US individual shareholders of foreign corporations to work closely with their advisors to consider potential planning opportunities on how they can reduce, or prepare for, these additional tax burdens.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss, our US tax experts at PwC in Switzerland are available to assist.

Contact Us

Richard Barjon, CPA
PwC | US Tax Director
+41 58 792 13 53
richard.barjon@ch.pwc.com