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Dispute resolution

New mutual agreement procedure statistics on the resolution of international tax disputes released on OECD Tax Certainty Day

 

22/11/2021 – As part of the BEPS Action 14 minimum standard and the wider G20/OECD tax certainty agenda to improve the effectiveness and timeliness of tax-related dispute resolution mechanisms, the OECD released today the latest mutual agreement procedure (MAP) statistics covering 118 jurisdictions and practically all MAP cases worldwide.

 

Dispute resolution mechanisms, including MAPs, are the cornerstone of a well-functioning tax treaty network. The BEPS Action 14 Minimum Standard adopted in 2015 by the members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS seeks to improve the resolution of tax-related disputes between jurisdictions and includes a peer review mechanism to monitor the compliance of member jurisdictions with this minimum standard.

 

The 2020 MAP Statistics* and the 2020 MAP Awards were presented during the third OECD Tax Certainty Day where tax officials and stakeholders took stock of the tax certainty agenda and discussed ways to further improve dispute prevention and resolution. MAP Statistics play an important role in the monitoring of BEPS Action 14, providing an objective and global frame of reference, as well as a country specific view, which together allow measurement of progress but also show where further work is needed. The 2020 MAP Statistics* show the following trends:

  • MAP remains very concentrated.  Around 2500 new cases started in 2020, with the top 25 jurisdictions accounting for 95% of them and the remaining cases involving around 40 other jurisdictions.
  • Competent authorities adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. MAP continued to be available throughout the pandemic with several actions taken by competent authorities, including allowing taxpayers to file MAP requests digitally where this had not been possible before.
  • New cases up. The number of transfer pricing cases started has kept increasing (almost +15%) (see trends since 2016), while the number of other cases has slightly decreased compared to 2019 (-2%).
  • Slight decrease in cases closed due to COVID-19. Approximately 5% fewer MAP cases were closed in 2020 than in 2019, which is mainly owing to a decrease for other cases (-12%), while the number of transfer pricing cases closed has increased (+6%). Competent authorities were still able to close a significant number of cases in 2020, because they adapted to the changing landscape and replaced physical meetings with other forms of communication, including digital meetings, and prioritised simpler cases. Nevertheless, MAP inventories have increased in the majority of jurisdictions and this may require additional actions in the coming years. 
  • Outcomes remain generally positive. Around 75% of the MAPs concluded in 2020 fully resolved the issue both for transfer pricing and other cases (compared to 85% for transfer pricing cases and 71% for other cases in 2019). Approximately 3% of MAP cases were closed with no agreement compared to 2% in 2019. In addition, the amount of cases withdrawn by taxpayers nearly doubled in 2020 (11% compared to 6% in 2019).
  • Cases still take a long time. On average, MAP cases closed in 2020 took 35 months for transfer pricing cases (31 months in 2019) and approximately 18 months for other cases (22 months in 2019). Some jurisdictions experienced delays, especially for more complex cases, and the COVID-19 crisis affected the quality of their communication with some treaty partners. Also, while it is not possible to estimate the time that will be necessary to close pending cases, the data shows that approximately 15% of the 2020 end inventory relates to cases that have been pending for at least five years.

 

This year's MAP Awards, given in recognition of particular efforts by competent authorities, saw the following winners: Switzerland and Australia for the shortest time in closing transfer pricing cases and other cases respectively; Spain for the smallest proportion of pre-2016 cases in end inventory; and Luxembourg and Norway for the most effective caseload management. The award for the pairs of jurisdictions that dealt the most effectively with their joint caseload went to Italy-Spain for transfer pricing cases and to Norway-Sweden for other cases. Finally, the award for the most improved jurisdiction, which also highlights the efforts taken by competent authorities to resolve MAP cases during the COVID-19 crisis, went to Ireland.

 

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Media enquiries should be directed to Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (+33 1 45 24 91 08) or Achim Pross, Head of the International Co-operation and Tax Administration Division (+33 1 45 24 98 92).

 

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