Changes to US Model Tax Treaty “Very, Very Complicated”

taxes-portLast year the U.S. Treasury department announced proposed changes to the U.S. Model Income Tax Treaty, which is the model text used by American officials when they negotiate tax treaties with other countries. According to a press release issued by Treasury in May 2015, “The revisions to the U.S. Model text are intended to ensure that the United States is able to maintain the balance of benefits negotiated under its treaty network as the tax laws of our treaty partners change over time, and to deny treaty benefits to companies that change their tax residence in an inversion transaction.”

USCIB and other business groups have expressed concern that the treaty provisions tilt too far in the direction of denying inappropriate claims of treaty benefits. Although Treasury recently narrowed some of the anti-tax evasion provisions to be more palatable to the U.S. business community, tax practitioners say that the model’s reception will be uncertain, especially among America’s treaty partners.

Speaking to Bloomber BNA, USCIB Vice President for Tax Carol Doran Klein noted that the treaty is complex and will be difficult to negotiate with other nations.

“It’s really, really complicated, which is not surprising,” Klein said. “I do think that some of the novel provisions have been modified, which is better. But it’s going to be really difficult to get this negotiated and also to apply it.”

Uncertainty also remains as to how the proposed changes to the U.S. model tax treaty might impact the OECD’s work on Base-Erosion and Profit-Shifting (BEPS).

USCIB sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury on September 14 expressing concern with proposed U.S. model tax treaty changes, which in part attempt to prevent double non-taxation of income between tax treaty partners. While acknowledging that the treaty provisions address legitimate concerns, USCIB said that the draft provisions “tilt too far in their attempt to prevent inappropriate claims of treaty benefits.”

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