May 2015 | Sharon Katz-Pearlman, Principal in Charge, Tax Dispute Resolution Services, KPMG LLP, discusses challenges that multinationals face when dealing with a tax audit or dispute. The trend for information sharing between countries can create challenges, but also new opportunities.
With more than 25 years of experience, Sharon works with clients on all aspects of their IRS matters, dealing with a wide variety of domestic and international tax issues.
Multinationals in today's disputes landscape face the greatest challenges for sure. And that is because there is increased collaboration around the world. The world has gotten a lot smaller and the revenue authorities are really coming together today as they never have ever before. A couple of examples: if you look at JITSIC, which started out in 2005 as the Joint International Tax Shelter Center, six countries, two observers, very small group looking at tax strategies and how they played in certain jurisdictions.
In October of 2014, that group went to 45 members. It's open to lots of countries now and they are all coming together to share information, to understand tax practices within countries, and again, to focus on cross-border. So if you are a multinational operating in lots of jurisdictions, you really have to be aware of what's going on within groups like JITSIC, as well as another group that operates under the radar called the Forum of Tax Administrators, which is part of the OECD, a group composed of revenue authority leads from, again, 40—I think they are up to 46 countries now, and the interesting thing about the FTA is that it is OECD and non-OECD countries. Again, they come together to share information, to collaborate, to understand what's going on in each jurisdiction.
For a multinational, that presents a challenge. It presents a need for extreme consistency. And again, as we all think of BEPS and what's happening across the world, country-by-country reporting, more information is going to be out there, it's going to be really critical that these multinationals have accurate information and are able to defend positions in a number of jurisdictions.
I think the greatest opportunity for a multinational is in the fact that lots of countries now are starting to be open to the concept of a voluntary disclosure. And so if you have an issue and you would like to go in and try and address that issue before it turns into a big dispute, that's a trend that we are seeing in a number of countries.
The U.S. has always been very open to it. The UK has been open to it. But little by little we're seeing around the world where it's starting to be an opportunity in other jurisdictions as well.
So I think for a multinational that may have issues in a bunch of countries, it's something that you might want to think about.
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