BEPS Action 5 is one of the four BEPS minimum standards that all Inclusive Framework members have committed to implement. One part of the Action 5 minimum standard relates to preferential tax regimes where a peer review is undertaken to identify features of such regimes that can facilitate base erosion and profit shifting, and therefore have the potential to unfairly impact the tax base of other jurisdictions.
This progress report is an update to the 2015 BEPS Action 5 report and contains the results of the review of all Inclusive Framework members' preferential tax regimes that have been identified. The results are reported as at October 2017.
The report also contains guidance on preferential tax regimes, including timelines for amending regimes, how certain features of preferential regimes will be monitored, and guidance on the requirement that jurisdictions offering preferential regimes must require substantial activities to be undertaken in the regime.
Updated conclusions on preferential tax regimes
In November 2018, the Inclusive Framework on BEPS approved updates to the results for regime reviews conducted in connection with BEPS Action 5. The results will be updated from time to time as approved by the Inclusive Framework.
The Inclusive Framework on BEPS has decided to resume the application of the substantial activities requirement for no or only nominal tax jurisdictions. Originally a criteria set out in the harmful tax framework from 1998, it had not been applied to date. However, with the elevation of the substantial activities requirements in preferential regimes, and the broad-based membership of the Inclusive Framework working together on an equal footing, it was considered the right time to ensure that equivalent substance requirements apply in no or only nominal tax jurisdictions. This global standard means that mobile business income cannot be parked in a zero tax jurisdiction without the core business functions having been undertaken by the same business entity, or in the same location. In doing so, the Inclusive Framework will ensure that substantial activities must be performed in respect of the same types of mobile business activities, regardless of whether they take place in a preferential regime or in a no or only nominal tax jurisdiction.
The Action 5 minimum standard consists of two parts. One part relates to preferential tax regimes, where a peer review is undertaken to identify features of such regimes that can facilitate base erosion and profit shifting, and therefore have the potential to unfairly impact the tax base of other jurisdictions. The second part includes a commitment to transparency through the compulsory spontaneous exchange of relevant information on taxpayer-specific rulings which, in the absence of such information exchange, could give rise to BEPS concerns.