5. Guidelines for competent authority operations
5.1. Authority and accessibility
Tax conventions typically designate the person who is to act as each country’s competent authority (e.g., “the Minister of Finance or his authorised representative” or “the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate”). The subsequent delegation of powers of a competent authority usually happens within a country’s tax administration. Since designations can be at a fairly senior level within government, it is for practical and administrative purposes that the powers and authority of the competent authority function are typically delegated to officials who will carry out the day to day responsibilities of the function.
Therefore most competent authorities delegate the full powers of the function (in other words, the legal authority to conclude a MAP arrangement) to the required personnel who carry out, or are involved in, the day-to-day functioning of the MAP program. It is advisable to have key personnel who will ultimately make the important decisions on a file intimately involved. In doing so, competent authorities will alleviate one common constraint to the success of any type of resolution process, which is having decision makers too far removed from the information.
In order to administer tax conventions as effectively and efficiently as possible, it is beneficial to have a competent authority that is readily accessible to taxpayers and has the authority to complete its mandate.
Best Practice Nº22: Readily available access to a competent authority
It is important for a government to publicise the identity of the officials who have been delegated the responsibility to carry out the competent authority function, along with their contact details. OECD Member countries should ensure that their MAP country profiles with this information on the OECD website are kept up to date.
Moreover, the competent authority officials involved in the day-to-day casework are often the representatives who require the delegated decision making powers to conclude a MAP arrangement. MAP discussions may become hindered if the “decision maker” or individual making the final recommendation on a case is too far removed from the detailed bilateral discussions. As with most generic negotiations, if a person of influence or authority to conclude a case attends a MAP meeting, there is a better chance of progress and a forthcoming decision. Nevertheless, competent authorities may decide to consult broadly within their offices and make decisions via consensus (for example, an informal, internal review committee) to ensure consistency and internal transparency.