What is BEPS?
Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational enterprises that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to avoid paying tax. Developing countries’ higher reliance on corporate income tax means they suffer from BEPS disproportionately. BEPS practices cost countries USD 100-240 billion in lost revenue annually. Working together within OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS, over 135 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating on the implementation of 15 measures to tackle tax avoidance, improve the coherence of international tax rules and ensure a more transparent tax environment.
Mission and impact
What is the issue?
BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity or to erode tax bases through deductible payments such as interest or royalties. Although some of the schemes used are illegal, most are not. This undermines the fairness and integrity of tax systems because businesses that operate across borders can use BEPS to gain a competitive advantage over enterprises that operate at a domestic level. Moreover, when taxpayers see multinational corporations legally avoiding income tax, it undermines voluntary compliance by all taxpayers.
BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises. Engaging developing countries in the international tax agenda is important to ensure that they receive support to address their specific needs and can effectively participate in the process of standard-setting on international tax.
What are we doing to solve it?
The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS brings together over 135 countries and jurisdictions to collaborate on the implementation of the BEPS Package.
The BEPS package provides 15 Actions that equip governments with the domestic and international instruments needed to tackle tax avoidance. Countries now have the tools to ensure that profits are taxed where economic activities generating the profits are performed and where value is created. These tools also give businesses greater certainty by reducing disputes over the application of international tax rules and standardising compliance requirements.
OECD and G20 countries along with developing countries that are participating in the implementation of the BEPS Package and the ongoing development of anti-BEPS international standards are establishing a modern international tax framework to ensure profits are taxed where economic activity and value creation occur. Work is being carried out to support all countries interested in implementing and applying the rules in a consistent and coherent manner, particularly those for which capacity building is an important issue.BEPS package
How are we monitoring implementation?
The Inclusive Framework on BEPS allows interested countries and jurisdictions to work with OECD and G20 members on developing standards on BEPS related issues and review and monitor the implementation of the BEPS Package.
The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS actively monitors the implementation of all the BEPS Actions and reports annually to the G20 on this progress. The implementation of the BEPS Minimum Standards is of particular importance, and each of these is the subject of a peer review process that evaluates the implementation by each member and provides clear recommendations for improvement. Peer reviews of the BEPS minimum standards are an essential tool to ensure the effective implementation of the BEPS package. First results were available for Action 5 in 2017, for Action 13 and Action 14 in 2018, and for Action 6 in 2019. The results of the peer reviews show strong implementation throughout the world. All countries and jurisdictions joining the framework will participate in this review process, which allows members to review their own tax systems and to identify and remove elements that pose BEPS risks.
Peer review and monitoring process of the four minimum standards:BEPS Progress Report
The peer reviews of the BEPS minimum standards will continue, including with assessments of substance in no or low tax jurisdictions under Action 5 and a full schedule of reviews of mutual agreement procedures under Action 14.
Additional signatures and ratification of the Multilateral Instrument will increase the implementation of a number of BEPS Actions, particularly countering treaty shopping under Action 6.
Inclusive Framework members have committed to report aggregate and anonymised data in respect of the Country-by-Country reports that they receive under Action 13. This data is vital to the work under Action 11 on measuring the impact of BEPS. As more data becomes available, a fuller picture can be shown of the true cost of tax avoidance and the benefit of the BEPS Project.
Finally, addressing the tax challenges arising from digitalisation is a key policy issue today. The Inclusive Framework has made major progress by developing two-pillar approach and aims to produce a consensus-based, long-term solution for delivery to the G20 in 2021.
are lost annually due to tax avoidance by multinational companies
have signed the Multilateral Instrument on BEPS
How it works
At its inaugural meeting in Kyoto, Japan in June 2016 there were 82 members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS. Since then, the membership of the Inclusive Framework has grown to over 135 countries and jurisdictions, including 14 observer organisations.
The ongoing work of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework is led by a 24-country Steering Group. All members of the Inclusive Framework participate on an equal footing, and the widespread adherence to and further development of the BEPS standards have resulted in tangible progress under the three principles of coherence, substance and transparency as articulated under the original BEPS Action Plan.
List of members
Countries and jurisdictions have been invited to express their interest to join this framework as Associates, to participate on equal footing and to commit to implement the comprehensive BEPS package. Timelines for implementation may differ to reflect the level of development of participating countries.
COUNTRIES OF RELEVANCE
Countries and jurisdictions of relevance will be identified by the inclusive framework as part of its mentoring process and reviewed. Countries and jurisdictions of relevance are those whose adherence to the minimum standards will be necessary to ensure that a level playing field is achieved. Jurisdictions of relevance will be informed about the minimum standards and invited to commit to the BEPS package and participate in the review process.
International organisations can act as Observers within the Inclusive Framework. This allows for more co-ordinated and targeted capacity building in the implementation of the BEPS outcomes.
Regional tax organisations, such as the African Tax Administration Forum, the Cercle de réflexion et d’échange des dirigeants des administrations fiscales, and the Centro Interamericano de Administraciones Tributarias, will continue to play an important role in the BEPS Project, together with international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the World Bank Group. Regional tax organisations and regional networksplay and important role in supporting the Inclusive Framework, through initiatives to support developing countries with limited capacity, including via regional meetings where such countries can exchange views and best practices and provide feedback. Regional Networks continue to be of particular relevance to developing countries for the implementation of the BEPS package as well as providing support to such countries to effectively participate in the ongoing standard setting process.
The OECD is committed to giving a voice to civil society stakeholders and helping ensure that their views are factored into the OECD’s work and hence making the OECD analyses stronger. Civil society has been continuously involved in the work of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework, with representatives playing an active role in the recent discussions on the tax challenges of digitalisation.Public consultations
Tools available to developing countries
The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS has a global membership, including about 70% of non-OECD and non-G20 countries from all geographic regions. With greater inclusiveness and participation, developing countries’ perspectives and inputs are increasingly influencing the development of international standards on corporate taxation. As such, capacity building support for developing countries is core to the Inclusive Framework, prioritising active, equal participation in the BEPS process.
E-learning & training seminars
The OECD carries out more than 50 free training workshops worldwide, where tax officials from different developing countries can learn, via intensive 3-5 days seminars, about various BEPS topics and other issues in international taxation.
The OECD's e-learning programme offers free on-line courses in different international tax topics, including BEPS. Participation is open to all tax officials, without limitation of number.
Blended learning events are also available, combining a preliminary on-line training with the traditional face-to-face workshops.Find out more
Tax audit capacity building
Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) sends expert tax auditors to assistance-requesting host administrations in order to build audit capacity around the world.
TIWB programmes provide tax administrations in developing countries with much needed assistance in building capacity to implement BEPS solutions, and contribute to the domestic resource mobilisation efforts of developing countries. On average, for every USD 1 spent on TIWB activities between 2013-2018, there was a more than USD 100 increase in tax revenues collected by host administrations.
Beyond the increase in tax revenues collected, TIWB programmes have been a major confidence builder for tax administrations, and a deterrent against tax avoidance strategies by MNEs, helping to create behavioural changes and a culture of voluntary compliance as well as an environment where businesses know what to expect from tax administration.Find out more
Toolkits for low capacity countries
The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) - a joint effort by the IMF, OECD, UN and the World Bank Group to facilitate and intensify co-operation between the four international organisations on international tax matters - is producing a number of toolkits to help low capacity countries to implement reforms countering base erosion and profit shifting issues of particular concern to developing countries, including some issues not addressed by the BEPS Project. These toolkits aim to provide capacity-constrained countries with practical, user-friendly guidance in implementing the international tax norms.Find out more
Direct support on BEPS implementation
The OECD provides bespoke induction programmes for new members of the Inclusive Framework. These aim to assist developing countries to successfully implement their BEPS priorities. These programmes are specifically tailored to the needs of the countries concerned and may include technical workshops and/or high-level engagement with ministers or other key political decision makers.
New, developing country members of the Inclusive Framework can also be “twinned” with more experienced members in order to exchange views and best practices and receive support.
Demand-led bilateral programmes have also been established to support the implementation of the BEPS actions and international transfer pricing norms through tailored country-level assistance. In many cases these programmes are delivered in partnership with other organisations such as the African Tax Administration Forum, the World Bank Group or the European Commission. Programmes typically include engaging with key stakeholders to ensure a strong strategic basis for potential reforms, as well as ‘on-the-ground’ support for implementation.
The OECD also provides support to developing countries on its current work to address the tax challenges of digitalisation. Briefing sessions for developing countries are organised ahead of Inclusive Framework plenary and Working Group meetings in order to enable participants to actively take part in the debate. The OECD also reaches out to developing countries through a set of regional events on digitalisation, carried out in partnership with regional organisations and development banks.Find out more
History of the G20 & BEPS
Following the financial crisis in 2008, the G20 countries put tax at the top of their agenda and have led the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. Two of the key players in this story provide a first-hand account of international tax policy over the past decade.