Planning it safe: Less risk and more substance. Kirill Rubalskiy for International Tax Review

27.04.2017

Tax planning is adapting to reflect a more transparent and technological world, bringing with it a change in attitudes and new challenges for taxpayers. The decisions made now should not be underestimated as they could have unexpected consequences later.

Change on a global scale is often gradual, but the combination of the BEPS Project, data leaks and whistleblowing, as well as numerous actions by governments to prevent tax leakage has accelerated this. Structures that were once common business practice now carry with them significant risks, both in terms of challenge from the tax authorities and reputation.

Secretive, low-tax jurisdictions are becoming less popular among companies, which are instead looking to implement simpler, more substantive structures. The use of shell companies – although legal – is becoming the alternative rather than the norm in many industries.

Although the global trends suggest there is only one path for taxpayers in the new age of transparency, the options are not that clear cut.

The spotlight on reputational risks and corporate responsibility may be on the taxpayer, but governments may be the ones that are forced to change as the public push for greater transparency in how they work with big businesses. Legal tax avoidance through profit shifting, using nominal tax rate differentials, legitimate tax deductions and special tax regimes, will continue to be crucial for limiting the tax liabilities of taxpayers. In coming years, however, governments will have to become more and more transparent, or they will find transparency forced upon them instead through global initiatives and external pressures.

Throughout the Americas, the biggest themes for taxpayers to be aware of are transparency, better reporting and the need for a clear corporate structure that has economic substance. However, the looming US tax reforms are creating difficulties for taxpayers trying to plan ahead.

In Europe, meanwhile, the biggest theme for taxpayers is the drive towards transparency, fuelled by the BEPS Project and the EU's changing tax rules. While new rules in some countries are making tax planning harder to negotiate than in others, the continent as a whole is scrambling to keep up with sweeping measures enforcing greater transparency and substance.

However, the Asia-Pacific region offers some comfort. Despite some issues the turbulent geo-political events happening across the Americas and EMEA mean Asia-Pacific may be the most stable region in terms of taxation in 2017.

As a general rule, tax planning is dictated by a number of factors, including an understanding of all the pertinent facts, appreciation of the desired objectives and analysis of the law. Analysing the options will lead to smarter decisions with lasting value.

Methodology

In January and February, International Tax Review asked its readers, and the tax directors of the world's leading multinational companies, to vote for their top three tax planning firms in more than 50 jurisdictions across the world. The votes were added up to produce the survey results. No votes from advisory firms were counted and firms could not send submissions to improve their chances of being ranked. The objective was to find out if there are other firms that did not appear in our World Tax directory that the market regarded highly because they had a particular specialty. Or if there were firms that appeared in World Tax and were known as dependable groups of tax advisers without having any star practitioners. Would they be rated for their excellence in tax planning? This survey should be seen as complementary to World Tax, which looks at the whole profile of a firm, not just its size and its deal flow. This survey is more specific about a firm's advisory strength.

AMERICAS

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • US
  • Venezuela

ASIA-PACIFIC

  • Australia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam

EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Austria
  • Baltic States
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • UK
  • Americas

Panama Papers scandal pushes transparent tax planning

The Panama Papers scandal shocked the world and put the spotlight on tax planning strategies being used by individuals, businesses and their advisers to minimise tax liabilities. Anjana Haines looks at how this landmark data leak is influencing tax planning across the Americas and beyond.

The Panama Papers scandal sparked widespread changes in tax planning

As governments wise up to the tax strategies being employed, corporations are also adapting their tax practices to become more transparent and maintain structures that avoid unwanted attention. The reputational risks associated with some tax minimisation practices are also making some of them less favourable among businesses. Moreover, tax planning is becoming a more important factor in the overall corporate strategy as companies juggle the demands of transparency, reputational risks and social responsibility, among others.

Mitch Thompson, partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Cleveland, says that as a result of the Panama Papers and other data leaks there is a greater sensitivity, among corporates, towards reputational issues with respect to tax planning. "In the wake of these recent leaks, there's a heightened awareness, which goes beyond the tax and finance functions and into the C-suites and the boardrooms, about what a company's tax planning strategy can mean to its external reputation and its perception as a corporate citizen of its country and the world."

"After Panama Papers broke in April 2016 and rocked the transparency world, unprecedented historical global effects took place and those are expected to continue for years to come," Mariana Vincente, international tax and legal senior manager of the LatAm Desk at Deloitte Denmark, tells International Tax Review.

In terms of wider issues affecting tax planning, global tax initiatives such as the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Common Reporting Standard (CRS), Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), the OECD BEPS Package and the growing demand for ultimate beneficial ownership registers are influencing tax planning decisions, with many businesses now considering the future implications of these measures. Moreover, plans in the US to introduce a tax reform are further complicating long-term strategies in a way never seen before. In Brazil, the 2016 reforms to the Brazilian Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF) that are resulting in fewer decisions going in favour of the taxpayer, and the 2016 Petrobas scandal, are influencing decisions.

Facts and figures

Legitimate tax planning allows large MNEs to reduce their effective tax rate by 4-8.5 percentage points on average, according to a recent OECD working paper on tax planning by multinational firms. The reduction is even greater for very large firms and firms intensive in the use of intangible assets, the paper notes. "The empirical analysis also shows that MNEs operating in many countries engage more intensively in tax planning than other MNEs. This may reflect their access to a wider range of (potentially mismatching) tax systems and bilateral tax treaties. Intangible assets are also found to facilitate tax planning. Patenting MNEs have a higher profit shifting intensity than non-patenting MNEs and they also benefit more from mismatches and preferential tax treatment, possibly reflecting patent shifting behaviours," according to the paper.

For governments, the net tax revenue loss from tax planning is estimated at 4-10% of global corporate tax revenues, based on 2000-10 data. However, strong anti-avoidance rules, such as transfer pricing, interest deductibility, general anti-avoidance rules (GAARs) and controlled foreign-company (CFC) rules, are found to reduce profit shifting, the research document states. "However, complex rules generate compliance costs for all firms, hampering profitability, as well as administrative and enforcement costs for tax authorities," it says.

Since the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media partners revealed a leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records on April 3 2016 that involved the use of secretive offshore companies to minimise taxation, governments and global organisations have been keen to show they are taking action against aggressive tax practices. To date, this ICIJ database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks investigations. Since the revelations, governments in more than 70 countries have launched more than 150 investigations, inquiries, audits and probes into the affairs of people and corporations linked to the scandal. Many legislatures also swiftly changed laws and regulations, and governments are recouping taxes on previously undeclared funds.

This data leak also reinforced the notion that corporate strategies used solely to make tax savings are no longer the accepted way of effectively managing tax liabilities. Together with the LuxLeaks scandal and other data leaks, the Panama Papers highlighted the need for businesses to make tax planning a larger part of the corporate strategy, moving it from the finance departments to the boardroom.

Aggressive action

Most governments in Central and Latin America responded aggressively to the data leak and have taken actions that are increasing corporate tax burdens.

For example, Vincente notes that in Panama, Parliament passed laws to toughen bookkeeping requirements for offshore companies and to allow Panama to share tax information with other countries – the Central American nation has sent 15 requests for information and legal assistance to 11 countries, including Mexico, Colombia and the Bahamas. Panamanian officials have also met with prosecutors and diplomats from nine countries to assist with investigations, including the US. However, the Panamanian Prosecutor's Office has recently said it will not issue documents from Mossack Fonseca – the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers – when only tax fraud is investigated, since this crime is not included in its legislation.

Elsewhere in the Americas, investigations and subsequent court cases have been launched against numerous high-profile individuals in Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay. In Brazil, investigations connected to the Panama Papers revealed that at least 107 offshore companies were created for 57 people implicated in the Petrobras corruption scheme, proving the use of offshore bank accounts for bribery payment, money laundering and tax evasion.

"One thing that is evident in the Panama Papers case is that the clients were searching for anonymity instead of tax planning," Vincente notes. However, the scandal confirmed that taxpayers can no longer expect to keep their tax planning secret – there will always be a means for the private information to be made public.

Tax planning in the age of transparency

Taxation has seen unprecedented change over recent years, with the introduction of the US FATCA, CRS, AEOI, the OECD BEPS package, beneficial ownership registers and numerous other initiatives pushing for more global transparency.

Dawson notes that it is the cumulative impact of FATCA, BEPS, the Panama Papers and the US's offshore voluntary compliance initiative (OVDP) and its predecessors, that have impacted tax planning. "Governments globally are well aware of the various tactics employed to avoid disclosure of assets and payment of taxes. Their reaction has been to not only change local law but also collaborate to face and defeat their common enemy, hiding of assets and evasion of taxes," he says, also noting that the face of tax planning in the US has changed and "will continue to change as a result of both legal and political tsunamis". Dawson's comments refer to the overhanging possibility of a comprehensive US tax reform, which would involve potentially significant changes to the international or cross-border aspects of the US tax system. Additional political issues, such as the potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and a possible border tax are also complicating tax planning. However, recent US Tax Court cases that have found in favour of corporations, such as in Veritas, Medtronic, Guidant and Amazon, provide some positive prospects for businesses.

Security risks

With the growing scale of information exchange among tax authorities worldwide, taxpayers should not assume that their tax planning structures will never been seen by an unauthorised person.

"The Panama Papers demonstrated security of sensitive information is always at risk of being exposed, thus creating not only possible action by taxing authorities but also reputational damage. Even with today's sophisticated systems a person motivated with access to such data can become a disruptive force," Dawson says.

"Most taxpayers today approach tax planning with an appreciation for the new paradigm and seek to organise their affairs in a manner that allows them to pay the least amount of tax legally. There is more sensitivity around being audited, resulting in more due diligence being undertaken before entering into a transaction," he adds.

However, the long-term risks created by the Panama Papers include the unauthorised disclosure of sensitive documents and tax audits, with the possibility of criminal prosecution and reputational damage, says Dawson. "In addition to the Panama Papers, the spotlight is shining brightly on OVDP, FATCA, and BEPS, all of which have created a new reality of tax consciousness."

The new reality

For businesses, there is a higher demand to be tax transparent and globally compliant as BEPS and other initiatives are implemented by participating jurisdictions. One of the key drivers towards better tax planning is the substance over form principle that is at the core of the BEPS Project and a value that governments are keen to enforce.

Thompson says companies are taking these "evolutionary changes" into account now when making long-term tax plans. "They are asking themselves, for example, if we structure this acquisition, or this entry into a new market in this way, what will happen if these BEPS actions are implemented in this or that or the other way," he notes. "They are thinking several moves down the board as to what these consequences would be."

"Even without legal grounds, tax authorities and tax courts are more often only accepting transactions and structuring with economic substance and business purposes," notes Erika Tukiama, partner at Machado Associados in Brazil.

This is also being influenced by the OECD's BEPS package, which targets tax avoidance strategies used by corporations that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Countries that have committed to the BEPS measures are gradually implementing the 15 action points, which intend to ensure businesses have economic substance in each country in which they operate.

In Brazil, however, the federal revenue service is ahead of the curve. It has already developed an electronic system to receive online accounting and tax information from all Brazilian taxpayers, and the Brazilian legislators have been successful in approving rules to substantially increase control and transparency over all transactions carried out in Brazil or involving at least one resident party. Moreover, Tukiama notes that the application of international tax treaties has also been challenged in recent years with the support of the courts.

"All this, together with international developments (such as BEPS, multilateral automatic exchange of information, scandals and information leaks, etc.), have surely encouraged tax authorities to be even more aggressive against taxpayers. Taxpayers are, as a consequence, being more conservative and careful," Tukiama notes.

Tukiama believes that the Panama Papers has strengthened taxpayers' awareness on the need to organise their structures based on business and economic purposes, i.e. not only intended to save tax. "The whole international scenario has only stressed the importance of substance over form," she says. "The Panama Papers itself did not create long-term risks in terms of tax planning works. In fact, this scandal, together with the whole current international situation, has reinforced a trend in Brazil, which has been developed here for years. As mentioned, Brazilian tax authorities have, for a long time, insisted on applying the substance over form principle to all transactions resulting in tax savings and in demanding the presentation of economic substance and business purposes by the taxpayers."

Over the past few years, Brazilian corporations have experienced the expansion of their activities overseas, with the structuring and/or acquisition of several businesses domiciled abroad. In addition, Brazil introduced new CFC rules in 2015 that brought significant changes to Brazilian legal entities investing abroad, increasing the tax burden and compliance. "In view of this, taxpayers started to reorganise their corporate and operational structures, aiming for a more efficient structure from tax, corporate and commercial perspectives. Litigation works have also been demanded by clients in order to give them more security and a better application of CFC rules and international tax treaties," Tukiama says.

Total transparency?

One of the issues raised after the Panama Papers broke was how to ensure the ultimate beneficial owners of companies are known. As such, campaigns for public registers on the ultimate beneficial owners of companies, and the need for public country-by-country reports on how much tax corporates pay, are becoming more intense.

It can be argued that as technology evolves and enables greater transparency, the prospect of more publically available data on a company's tax payments and its owners seems inevitable. However, the drivers for these changes appear to be politically charged, rather than economically justified, which could make a country less desirable for investment and could therefore mean this data remains private.

Governments, looking for ways to show voters that they are dealing with aggressive tax planning strategies, may see public country-by-country reports and beneficial ownership registers as a positive step. However, Thompson believes that if jurisdictions requiring tax transparency become perceived as unfriendly to businesses and their desire to make the information publically available is not strong enough to justify the unfriendly business aspects of it, then you might see jurisdictions not jumping into publishing such data.

"I think it remains to be seen how [this] will play out. Although, I think over the rest of our careers and lifetimes, the trend generally will be towards more transparency – both because people want it and because as these leaks have demonstrated the need in some respects. Transparency is almost inevitable if people are going to be hacking and leaking," Thompson says.

Businesses operating throughout the Americas and elsewhere may also be influenced the EU's plans to bring in greater transparency on beneficial owners. Werner Langen, chair of the PANA Committee that is investigating money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion in the wake of the Panama Papers, says he wants to make it impossible for ultimate beneficial owners of companies – offshore and onshore alike – to remain anonymous.

"That would already be a big step forward. We have to make the system better. We need better rules and better enforcement," he says. "This cannot be done by tax administrations or law enforcement bodies alone. Banks are already playing an important role in filtering out suspicious transactions or suspicious clients and reporting those. But their systems are not watertight and it requires quite a change of culture in banks to improve compliance. There is a way to go, but I hope to see this improve. The same goes for intermediaries that are often involved in setting-up offshore constructions, such as lawyers, accountants and trust companies. Those professionals often have ethical codes and guidelines in place and it would be good if the compliance with their own code of conduct would be more consistently implemented."

The PANA Committee recently went on a fact-finding mission to the US in relation to its investigations, highlighting the similarities in the changes authorities wish to make, but barriers towards that change appear high. "It was very interesting to see how the discussions we have in the EU about subsidiarity are topical in the US as well. We were very keen to learn about the US company registers, as we – in the EU – think the identity of the ultimate beneficial owner is key information, especially in view of clamping down on money laundering, tax evasion or other criminal activities. On the federal level in the US people tell us that incorporation is a matter for the states, whereas in Delaware they told us they won't move unless there is a uniform, federal instruction applicable for all states. I am not hopeful that this discussion will end positively in the near future. Delaware is anyhow special. It hosts more companies than citizens, has very advantageous tax laws for profits on intangible assets such as patents and apparently you can register a company online in less than ten minutes. Moreover, they have a very old corporate court, the Court of Chancery, with a lot of jurisprudence. The people in Delaware told us that this is the reason why companies find Delaware so attractive. They see this as an insurance as it provides certainty as to how corporate disputes will play out."

"As a general rule, tax planning is dictated by a number of factors, including an understanding of all the pertinent facts, appreciation of the desired objectives and analysis of the law," Dawson says. "The transactional planning, whether an individual or corporation, revolves around minimising the impact of taxes. In seeking to obtain the maximum rate of return, analysing the options and providing clear guidance [is most important] so the client can make a smart decision with lasting value."

Argentina

Tier 1

  • Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi, Taxand Argentina
  • Deloitte
  • EY (Pistrelli, Henry Martin y Asociados)
  • KPMG
  • Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal
  • PwC
  • Rosso Alba, Francia & Asociados
  • Teijeiro & Ballone Abogados

Tier 2

  • Asorey & Navarrine
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Bulit Goñi & Tarsitano Abogados y Consultores
  • Estudio O’Farrell
  • Goldemberg & Asociados
  • Grupo GNP
  • Perez Alati, Grondona, Benites, Arntsen & Martinez de Hoz (h)

Brazil

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Lacaz Martins, Pereira Neto, Gurevich & Schoueri Advogados
  • Lilla, Huck, Otranto, Camargo Advogados
  • Machado Associados
  • Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr & Quiroga Advogados
  • Pinheiro Neto Advogados
  • PwC
  • Rolim, Viotti & Leite Campos Advogados
  • Trench Rossi Watanabe (Baker McKenzie)

Tier 2

  • Advocacia Krakowiak
  • Barbosa Müssnich Aragão
  • Castro, Barros, Sobral, Gomes Advogados
  • CFA Advogados
  • Dias de Souza Advogados Associados
  • Felsberg Advogados
  • Lefosse Advogados
  • Machado Meyer
  • Mariz de Oliveira e Siqueira Campos Advogados
  • Sacha Calmon Misabel Derzi Consultores e Advogados
  • Siqueira Castro Advogados
  • TozziniFreire Advogados
  • Ulhôa Canto Rezende e Guerra Advogados
  • Xavier, Duque-Estrada, Emery, Denardi Advogados

Canada

Tier 1

  • Blake, Cassels & Graydon
  • Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Gowling WLG
  • KPMG
  • McCarthy Tétrault
  • Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt
  • PwC
  • Torys

Tier 2

  • Goodmans
  • Grant Thornton
  • McMillan
  • Stikeman Elliott

Chile

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Carey
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Barros y Errázuriz Abogados, Taxand Chile
  • Cariola Diez Pérez Cotapos
  • Grant Thornton
  • Philippi, Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría
  • Salcedo & Cia

Colombia

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Brigard & Urrutia Abogados
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Godoy & Hoyos Abogados
  • KPMG
  • Posse Herrera Ruiz
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Cahn-Speyer, Paredes & Asociados
  • Garrigues
  • Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta, Taxand Colombia
  • Lewin & Wills Abogados
  • Mauricio A Plazas Vega Abogados & Cia
  • Philippi, Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría
  • Quiñones Cruz Abogados

Mexico

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Basham, Ringe y Correa
  • Chevez Ruiz Zamarripa
  • Deloitte
  • Mancera (EY)
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • BaseFirma
  • KPMG
  • Ortíz Sainz y Erreguerena SC
  • Sanchez Devanny
  • SKATT International
  • Tron Abogados
  • Turanzas, Bravo & Ambrosi

Peru

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • Estudio Echecopar/Baker McKenzie
  • Estudio Olaechea
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano Abogados

Tier 2

  • Rubio Leguía Normand
  • García Sayán Abogados
  • Hernández & Cía. Abogados
  • Muñiz, Ramírez, Pérez-Taiman & Olaya
  • Philippi, Prietocarrizosa, Ferrero DU & Uría
  • Rodrigo, Elias & Medrano
  • Rubio Leguía Normand
  • Zuzunaga Assereto & Zegarra Abogados

Uruguay

Tier 1

  • Ferrere
  • Grant Thornton
  • Guyer & Regules
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Bergstein Abogados
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Posadas, Posadas & Vecino
  • Rueda Abadi Pereira Consultores

US

Tier 1

  • Alston & Bird
  • Baker Botts
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Deloitte
  • DLA Piper
  • EY
  • Fenwick & West
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • KPMG
  • Mayer Brown
  • McDermott Will & Emery
  • Miller & Chevalier Chartered
  • PwC
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Vinson & Elkins
  • Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Tier 2

  • Akerman
  • Akin Gump
  • Aliant
  • Alvarez & Marsal, Taxand US
  • Andersen Tax
  • BaseFirma
  • Caplin & Drysdale
  • Cherry Bekaert
  • Covington & Burling
  • Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Duff & Phelps
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Grant Thorton
  • Latham & Watkins
  • McDermott Will & Emery
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Paul Hastings
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Sidley Austin
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • Steptoe & Johnson
  • Thompson & Knight
  • Weaver
  • White & Case
  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
  • Winston & Strawn

Venezuela

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • D’Empaire Reyna Abogados
  • Norton Rose Fulbright

Tier 2

  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Mendoza, Delgado, Labrador & Asociados (EY)
  • PwC
  • Rodríguez & Mendoza
  • Taxand Venezuela
  • Torres Plaz & Araujo

Asia-Pacific

How tax planning is changing in the Asia-Pacific region

Tax planning is always changing, but with geo-political events from 2016 still influencing economies in 2017, businesses have to be vigilant to stay ahead of the curve. Amelia Schwanke investigates the impact of trade, globalisation and emerging protectionism on tax planning across major economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Core trends driving change in the Asia-Pacific region are the emerging gig economy and technological advances, political and economic uncertainty, and greater emphasis on transparency and reducing aggressive tax planning through the OECD's BEPS Project.

Despite a series of unexpected political events, such as the UK's exit from the European Union, the US elections, and the rise of authoritarian Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte, Asia has remained a favoured region for tax planning in the midst of political and economic uncertainty. For example, the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a major blow to trade deals in the Asia-Pacific region.

Globalisation is also continuing to have an impact throughout Asia with many ASEAN governments taking a proactive approach to the OCED's BEPS Project. Implementation is well underway in most countries. In particular, Australia and New Zealand are leading the way by reforming their tax systems to be BEPS compliant, thus increasing MNEs' interest in doing business in these jurisdictions.

These sweeping changes have had a substantial impact on how multinationals structure their tax assessments and reporting in Asia.

"Given the increasing focus on the alignment between business activities and substance, as well as corresponding economic benefits in terms of value creation, many companies are proactively doing self-assessments to evaluate their R&D functions against their IP holding structures and inter-company royalties arrangements," Henry Chan, partner at EY in China, tells International Tax Review.

Chan says that businesses are keenly analysing their processes to see if the entitlement to economic benefits can be reconciled with the development, enhancement, maintenance, protection, and exploitation (DEMPE) of intangibles functions undertaken by the respective related companies.

Revisiting predictions in ITR's tax planning feature last year, Singapore and Hong Kong's territorial tax systems have maintained their attractiveness for tax planning. The tax advantages that these jurisdictions offer, including their tax treaty networks, are recognised by companies worldwide.

So far, in 2017, there are several notable tax developments affecting the work of tax planners:

Australia is reforming its tax system to maintain a competitive edge by committing to a lower corporate tax rate, increasing its focus on investigations targeting tax evasion enablers, and the enacting the diverted profits tax;

China's tax environment is rapidly changing to become aligned with international standards, such as through the BEPS deliverables being translated into Chinese regulations, the renegotiation of outdated tax treaties, and the intended implementation of the common reporting standard (CRS) and country-by-country reporting (CbCR);

India's landmark goods and services tax (GST) regime will have both the taxman and taxpayers busy; and

New Zealand has proposed a number of BEPS measures related to permanent establishment (PE) avoidance, transfer pricing rules, thin capitalisation and interest limitation.

Keeping up with the constant flow of international tax developments can sometimes be a challenge for multinationals. Moreover, with the BEPS Project and the increasingly erratic nature of world politics, there are no signs of these developments slowing down. Tax professionals will have to keep their fingers on the pulse on a wide range of subjects, especially as transparency initiatives like the CRS and CbCR continue to increase the compliance workloads for everyone involved.

Changing trade incentives: BEPS encourages reform to existing tax treaties

A favourable treaty network is a notable component for companies undertaking cross-border business, and its influence on trade is vital when determining companies' tax structuring in jurisdictions in which they operate. Globalisation has played a key role in opening up opportunities for MNEs to greatly reduce the taxes they pay, and to combat this many existing treaties have been reformed to align themselves with BEPS Action 6 on treaty abuse.

The combination of digital tools and globalisation is forcing change

Recently, tensions between China and the US trade dealings cooled after a 100-day plan to address trade imbalances between the world's two largest economies was agreed in a meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping. This will allow China to remain an attractive destination for foreign investors. Trump's protectionist outlook, however, has created fear that South-East Asia's trade volumes will be hit, particularly among emerging economies dependant on capital from the US.

However, Khoon Ming Ho, head of tax at KPMG for the Asia-Pacific region, tells ITR that companies need more advice from authorities regarding the tax impact of the supply chain and value chain management, specifically in China. This includes IP rights, related structuring or restructuring of business operations and investment holdings, with a view to mitigating exposure arising from BEPS-related measures such as those against treaty abuse and harmful tax practice including limitation of benefits and the substance required for beneficial ownership registers.

India is the second-largest jurisdiction in Asia for foreign investment, and its federal tax system is undergoing a period of intense change with the impact from its major restructuring to its treaty network seeing a number of new treaty structures replacing outdated policies. The tightening of India's tax treaties has closed once favoured investment routes and means India has regained the rights to tax capital gains earned by both Mauritius and Singaporean entities.

Sanjay Sanghvi, partner at Khaitan & Co in India, says that it is a very interesting time for tax professionals in India. "The recent trends in doing business in India have largely been driven by the changes in fiscal policy. This has directly resulted in behavioural changes in both the taxman and the taxpayer," he tells ITR. "For instance, now taxpayers are first considering the tax risks before finalising their structures, a consideration which was rather belated earlier. The taxman, on the other hand, has been looking to make most of the legislative changes and the major overhaul of tax policy."

"Further, the now effective general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) provisions, place of effective management (POEM) guidelines, and tax treaty amendments. All have played and shall continue to play a key role while undertaking any structuring exercise," says Sanghvi. "The tightening of source rules in India to enable India the basis to tax economic activity carried out has prompted all parties to take note while planning businesses. BEPS is another important aspect that needs to be considered in any tax planning exercise. With all these sophisticated tools, the tax authorities are trying to increase their tax base and, thereby, the tax they are able to collect. Needless to state, this poses challenges to tax planning exercises."

Credit ratings agency Fitch warns that US protectionism has the potential to threaten adverse spill overs to Asia-Pacific economies. The Trans Pacific Partnership demise is a further setback to the economic outlook for the Asia-Pacific Region. It is forecast to boost Vietnam's GDP by 8%, with Malaysia and Singapore also expected to be significant beneficiaries. Companies are now advising Asian countries to pursue regional trade deals.Technology enhancing the execution of tax planning ideas

Across the board, the vast majority of tax authorities have a formal plan or strategy to improve the range and quality of their electronic services. For example, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) offers taxpayers a number of alternative communication platforms through social media and mobile technologies, including e-filing, e-commerce for GST, e-services for companies through the authorisation system (EASY) and an auto-inclusion scheme for employment income e-submissions, as well as others.

As new digital processes continue to be developed and readily used by tax administrations, businesses investment in the area will rise in turn. Tax administrations and taxpayers alike are exploring the use of automated software as it allows for timely compliance and offers risk mitigation on a real-time basis.

"With the introduction of big data technology and advanced analytics, businesses are now harnessing the power of such technologies to efficiently detect and analyse tax risks to identify potential tax planning opportunities," says Chan. "New technology solutions not only help businesses to analyse reasons behind abnormal fluctuation in tax costs and identify room for improvement, but also assist to enhance internal processes in executing tax planning ideas in order to achieve better tax saving outcome."

This digital trend will remain at the forefront of development with both the government and businesses investing in a large amount of research.Indirect taxation reform

Notably, the Asia Pacific region has seen a shifting trend from direct to indirect taxes, which has led to businesses taking a proactive approach to tax planning and management. Most ASEAN countries have an indirect tax system. While South Korea was the first to introduce VAT in 1976, India's GST regime will be the newest national system in the region when it starts on July 1 2017 – presuming there are no delays – forcing companies to review their internal processes and systems. BEPS-driven direct and indirect tax reforms in China have increased the compliance burden for businesses to the point where technology-based solutions are generally required for all these dynamic requirements, Ming says.

In addition, changes to GST in Singapore are likely after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat confirmed in his latest budget speech that regulation is required in the digital economy.

In Japan, meanwhile, the government recently approved the exemption of digital currencies, such as bitcoin, from consumption tax.

Taxation of the digital economy remains a concern for businesses, with more advice needed in most ASEAN countries on the tax implications of the digitisation of business models, such as e-commerce and technology-based delivery centres. For instance, Taiwan has confirmed that it will impose a 5% VAT on electronic services to consumers provided by foreign providers, similar to regimes in Japan and South Korea, and those planned in Australia and New Zealand.

Fuelled by the developing gig economy, businesses are changing their tax structures. A recurring theme and issue for tech giants is the challenge of placing the VAT/GST charges, and VAT/GST fixed and permanent establishments.

For tax administrations, the rise in automation is spurring on a generational shift towards entrepreneurship, which in turn is increasing the rate of self-employed taxes. However, a potentially significant compliance issue is raising interest in how to collect the taxes accrued by a 'gig worker'.

Overall, the desire for autonomy is strongest in China, especially among young people, although as technology continues to become more innovative this trend will likely spread across the Asia-Pacific region.Globalisation strong-arming transparency push

With investment capital becoming more mobile, globalisation is truly unstoppable. For businesses, understanding how to manage global tax obligations has become more important than ever.

For instance, tax professionals have to pay even closer attention to transfer pricing policies for cross-border related-party transactions against the background of greater transparency engendered by such BEPS-related initiatives such as CbCR, Ming says.

International company tax planning in light of international information and communication obligations has completely changed tax planning. Reporting standards such as the OECD's CRS, Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and CbCR are new to most tax professionals in the Asia-Pacific region. Compliance is creating a juggling act for taxpayers.A positive outlook for the Asia-Pacific region

With fiscal policy largely driving change in a majority of tax systems throughout the Asia-Pacific region, businesses are seeing more requirements for both tax planning and tax implementation services at the same time. "Corporations are no longer contented with a piece of advice. They would like to see the advice turned into actual tax ruling applications, into day-to-day components of their tax compliance processes and into their ongoing tax management manuals."

New trade incentives from an overhaul of tax treaties, technological advancements, and tax reforms in the digital economy are changing the tax landscape throughout Asia and the Pacific. However, the region continues to deliver strong growth in the face of widespread concerns about high levels of debt, growing threats of protectionism, and the challenges posed by tax fraud and evasion. Overall, the Asia Pacific region appears in good shape with tax planning opportunities emerging in the year ahead.

Given the turbulence in Europe caused by Brexit and the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive, in North America caused by the upcoming US tax reform, and general perceptions of South America and Africa as non-business friendly, there is a case to be made for Asia-Pac being the most stable region in which to practice tax in 2017.

Australia

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills and Herbert Smith Freehills
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Allens
  • Ashurst
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Clayton Utz
  • MinterEllison

China

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • DLA Piper
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Grant Thornton
  • Hendersen Taxand, Taxand China
  • Hwuason Lawyers
  • JunHe
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • NERA
  • O’Melveny & Myers
  • WTS China
  • Zhong Lun Law Firm

Hong Kong

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Clifford Chance
  • Deacons
  • DLA Piper
  • Quantera Global

Indonesia

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Hadiputranto, Hadinoto & Partners
  • KPMG
  • PB Taxand, Taxand Indonesia
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Danny Darussalam Tax Centre (DDTC)
  • MUC Consulting Group
  • SF Consulting

India

Tier 1

  • BMR Advisors, Taxand India
  • Deloitte
  • Dhruva Advisors
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • BDO India
  • Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
  • DH Consultants
  • Dhruva Advisors
  • Economic Laws Practice
  • Grant Thornton
  • Khaitan & Co
  • Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan
  • Majmudar & Partners
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co
  • Sudit K Parekh & Co
  • TP Ostwal & Associates

Japan

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte Tohmatsu Tax
  • EY ShinNihon Tax
  • KPMG
  • Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
  • PwC Tax Japan
  • Zeirishi-HoJin PwC

Tier 2

  • Grant Thornton
  • Kojima Law, Taxand Japan
  • Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Nishimura & Asahi
  • Tokyo Kyodo Accounting Office
  • Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin
  • White & Case

Malaysia

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Shearn Delamore & Co

Tier 2

  • Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill
  • Taxand Malaysia
  • Wong & Partners

New Zealand

Tier 1

  • Bell Gully
  • Chapman Tripp
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Russell McVeagh

Tier 2

  • Buddle Findlay
  • Grant Thornton
  • Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
  • Simpson Grierson
  • TP Equilibrium
  • Philippines

Tier 1

  • Isla Lipana & Co (PwC)
  • Navarro Amper & Co
  • RG Manabat & Co (KPMG)
  • SGV & Co

Tier 2

  • Baniqued & Baniqued
  • Deloitte
  • Du-Baladad and Associates – WTS
  • Quisumbing Torres (Baker McKenzie)
  • Salvador Lianillo & Bernardo, Taxand Philippines
  • Zambrano & Gruba Law Offices

Singapore

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Wong Partnership

Tier 2

  • Allen & Gledhill
  • Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
  • Drew & Napier
  • Withers KhattarWong, Taxand Singapore

South Korea

Tier 1

  • Deloitte Anjin
  • Kim & Chang
  • Samil PwC
  • Samjong KPMG

Tier 2

  • EY
  • Yulchon

Taiwan

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Grant Thornton
  • Lee & Li

Vietnam

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • DFDL
  • Grant Thornton
  • VDB Loi

Europe, Middle East and Africa

Taxpayers across Europe shed risk in the face of transparency drive

Throughout Europe, the biggest theme for taxpayers to be aware of is the drive towards transparency, fuelled by the twin boosters of the BEPS Project and the EU’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives, writes Joe Stanley-Smith. Taxpayers across the continent should be seeking advice to scale down risk by ensuring that their planning structures are watertight.

As Piergiorgio Valente, managing partner at Valente Associati GEB Partners, says: "One of the landmarks of our era is beyond doubt the overhaul of tax rules, at national and international – EU and beyond – level."

"The new framework demands more transparency, e.g. through country-by-country reporting (CbCR), not allowing any margin for inconsistencies in the tax position of multinationals. In this context, tax planning seems to be transforming towards review and restructure in order to ensure that the group business structure is concrete and risk-avert."

"While EU and governments have tightened their approach towards tax planning, multinational corporations look for flexibility and transparency from their tax planning structures," says Einari Karhu, specialist partner at Borenius in Finland. "With the general reduction of corporate tax rates across Europe, CFOs and tax directors nowadays tend to prefer predictability over aggressive tax planning."

Statistics show that companies are filing for record numbers of advance pricing agreements (APAs) in an effort to secure certainty for their businesses navigating the shifting tax landscape. In 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, EU nations received 1,412 APA requests according to the EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum.

"Such trend is totally justifiable – and encouraged – in view of the dominating tax uncertainty in a transforming tax world which is likely to multiply tax disputes," says Valente.

Corporate tax planning strategies need to be watertight as BEPS begins to bite

Russia grapples with de-offshorisation and combative tax authorities

In Russia, the theme of transparency is even stronger than in most EU countries.

The country's de-offshorisation package, which was first introduced on January 1 2015, continues to be a challenge for taxpayers and advisers to deal with, particularly as many companies before the change were using complex structures for tax optimisation. The legislation, which aims to prevent funds being transferred offshore without facing taxation, demands greater transparency from controlled foreign companies (CFCs) and fixes the concept of beneficial ownership (known locally as the 'actual recipient of income' rule) into legislation.

Further legislation has been introduced since 2015 supporting the de-offshorisation drive. Most recently, Russia adopted a legislative package of anti-offshore rules and concepts that focuses on structures of foreign and originally Russian businesses involving wide usage of foreign jurisdictions, particularly tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Jersey, and, to some extent, key structuring jurisdictions for Russian businesses such as Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg.

"There is a lot of tax planning which aims to adapt business structures to this new reality in Russia, with many unnecessary 'layers' being discarded by building simpler, more transparent structures of ownership and cash flows," says Kirill Rubalskiy, senior associate at Goltsblat BLP.

"The clients' tasks in this direction are usually quite challenging, as in most cases the existing structures are too complex and cumbersome and there is a need to 'unknit' very complicated corporate and holding 'knots' including both Russian and foreign elements without bringing about devastating tax consequences for the clients."

The issues stemming from the de-offshorisation programme are compounded by a shift to greater aggression from the tax authorities. Russia's budget deficit, which has been greatly increased due to international sanctions as well as the low price of oil, reached $21 billion in 2016. The tax authorities are under pressure to increase revenue to bring the country's finances under control.

Exacerbating the shift in attitude of the tax authorities is the Russian courts. Decisions that, a few years ago, would have gone in favour of taxpayers are now being given in favour of the authorities. The trend is more pronounced for payments from Russia to foreign jurisdictions. Local tax disputes, which do not involve money leaving Russia, still have a good chance of being resolved in favour of taxpayers, however.

"As we can see, these trends represent the key factors which drive the clients' demand for corporate and tax restructuring," says Rubalskiy. "Many structures and operations which appeared to be quite safe from a taxation point of view two to three years ago do not seem that safe now, so clients ask us to take a fresh look at them and remodel them in a manner consistent with the current Russian tax environment which is far more aggressive than it used to be."

"Some clients' requests even focus on preparation in advance of defence files, outlining possible argumentation in favour of the compliance of a new or existent structure with tax law and tax avoidance doctrines in court practice," he adds. "This approach illustrates that clients' perception of the level of tax risks and preciseness and awareness they require from tax planners went up a level in the background of harsher interactions with Russian tax law enforcement agencies."

Finnish companies accept tax cost in exchange for certainty

Finland fits the trend of the EU, with companies undertaking risk-averse approaches to tax planning.

"Recently, we have experienced group reorganisations where the aim is not to reach the lowest possible effective tax rate but instead the corporations accept a reasonable tax cost in exchange for certainty on tax treatment," says Karhu. "As a consequence of recent tax disputes, multinational corporations have become more risk averse than before."

"From tax advisers' perspective, this new approach leads to an increased need to understand the business of the client and it will increase further in the future. All tax planning actions have to be justified also from a pure business perspective and tax driven reorganisations have become less popular."

Tax planning work in Greece adapting to new reality after 2014 reforms

The theme of transparency is also surfacing in Greece, with regulations on corporates and individuals, as well as BEPS and the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) leaving no room for advisers to implement structures inspired by the form over substance approach.

"Tax optimisation work in Greece has radically moved towards applying extensive business purpose tests, upon setting up and implementing new structures," says Elina Filippou, head of transfer pricing and business restructuring at Zepos & Yannopoulos, Taxand Greece.

"The new Greek income tax code (effective since January 2014) has introduced a number of anti-abuse tax rules, including CFC rules, earning stripping rules, detailed guidance on place of effective management, a comprehensive transfer pricing rule governing business restructurings, a general anti-abuse rule, as well as a special anti-abuse rule in relation to the application of the EU Parent Subsidiary Directive and the EU Merger Directive," says Filippou.

Businesses in Greece, says Filippou, should be wary of a range of potential hazards. Much of the structuring work in the country focuses on:

Unanticipated PEs and related business model restructuring;

Minimum substance tests in relation to transactions with preferential tax regimes – including Cyprus;

Transfer pricing and value chain analysis, where the tax authorities are prone to focus on intangibles;

Conversion of local business models, including full or partial relocation of business, taking into account the Greek country risk and investor attraction considerations;

Re-allocation of functions, risks and assets, also in the light of the implementation of CRS rules; and

Exit taxes, particularly on share/asset deal transactions.

Italy reflects European concerns as companies run from risk

The changes being witnessed in Italy, which has one of the most complex and adversarial tax regimes in Europe, are actually fairly typical of those seen across the EU.

Valente notes that the work his firm is being asked to do by its clients focuses more than ever on reviewing business structures, particularly to identify entities that could be merged or dissolved to reduce the costs of compliance coming from new reporting and other requirements.

Other common requests include: "Review of implemented financing structures along with proposal and evaluation of alternative solutions; review of intellectual property (IP) structures in place, in particular as regards justification of their substance and assessment of potential risks under the new IP regimes; assistance with optimisation of tax risk management; and detailed tax due diligence in relation to mergers and acquisitions," he says.

Taxpayers are increasingly seeking out structures which will remain resilient post-BEPS, with tax minimisation taking a back seat to the avoidance of tax risk.

"The planning work we do is centred around structuring inbound investments, in the M&A, private equity and real estate space," says Carlo Galli, partner at Clifford Chance in Italy. "In this area, the key factor is the resilience of the structures put in place, using a very forward-looking approach and working on solutions that are likely to work in five years' time."

Companies are also seeking out better information from advisers and other sources.

"Clients have become more sensitive to tax alerts, asking for maximum proactivity," says Valente. "To this effect, we are devoted to real-time updating of our clients on the developments in the national and international tax arena as well as on their potential impact for their business."

Overall, businesses across Europe share many of the same concerns. While new rules in some countries make tax planning harder to negotiate than in others, the continent as a whole is scrambling to keep up with sweeping measures enforcing greater transparency and substance. As BEPS begins to bite, difficulties for companies not taking steps to reduce risk will be drawn into even sharper focus.

Austria

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Leitner & Leitner
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • BPV Hügel Rechtsanwälte
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • TJP
  • Wolf Theiss

Baltic States

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Sorainen

Tier 2

  • Cobalt
  • Varul

Belgium

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Liedekerke
  • Linklaters
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Loyens & Loeff
  • Mayer Brown
  • Stibbe
  • Tiberghien

Cyprus

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Andreas Neocleous & Co
  • Baker Tilly Klitou
  • Chrysses Demetriades & Co
  • Consulco
  • Eurofast Taxand, Taxand Cyprus

Denmark

Tier 1

  • CORIT Advisory
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG Acor Tax
  • Plesner
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Bech-Bruun, Taxand Denmark
  • Bruun & Hjejle
  • Horten
  • Kromann Reumert

Finland

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Alder & Sound
  • Borenius, Taxand Finland
  • Hannes Snellman
  • Roschier

France

Tier 1

  • Arsene Taxand, Taxand France
  • Bredin Prat
  • CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre
  • EY
  • Fidal
  • Taj – Deloitte

Tier 2

  • Allen & Overy
  • August Debouzy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Clifford Chance
  • De Pardieu Brocas Maffei
  • DLA Piper
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Gide Loyrette Nouel
  • Linklaters
  • Mayer Brown
  • PwC Société d’Avocats

Germany

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Flick Gocke Schaumburg
  • Luther
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Baker Tilly
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Gleiss Lutz
  • Hengeler Mueller
  • KPMG
  • Linklaters
  • NERA
  • P+P Pöllath + Partners
  • PwC
  • WTS

Gulf Cooperation Council

Tier 1

  • Cragus Group
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Cramer Salamian (in assoc. with Abdulla Al-Ali & Associates)
  • M/Advocates of Law
  • Stibbe
  • Withers

Greece

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Dryllerakis & Associates
  • M&P Bernitsas Law Offices
  • Photopoulos & Associates
  • UnityFour
  • Zepos & Yannopoulos, Taxand Greece

Ireland

Tier 1

  • A&L Goodbody
  • Arthur Cox
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Matheson
  • PwC
  • William Fry, Taxand Ireland

Tier 2

  • Grant Thornton
  • Maples & Calder
  • Mason Hayes & Curran

Israel

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Gornitzky & Co
  • Herzog Fox & Neeman
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • BDO Israel
  • Fahn Kanne & Co – Grant Thornton
  • Gideon Koren & Co
  • Goldfarb Seligman & Co
  • KPMG
  • Meitar Loquornik Geva Leshem Tal
  • Shekel & Co

Italy

Tier 1

  • BonelliErede
  • Chiomenti Studio Legale
  • KStudio Associato (KPMG)
  • Maisto e Associati
  • Studio Legale e Tributario (EY)
  • Studio Tributario e Societario (Deloitte)
  • Valente Associati GEB Partners

Tier 2

  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Belluzzo & Partners
  • Bernoni Grant Thornton
  • Fantozzi e Associati, Taxand Italy
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Hager & Partners
  • Salvini Escalar e Associati
  • Tremonti Romagnoli Piccardi e Associati

Luxembourg

Tier 1

  • Allen & Overy
  • Arendt & Medernach
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • KPMG
  • Loyens & Loeff
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • ATOZ, Taxand Luxembourg
  • Bonn Steichen & Partners
  • Clifford Chance
  • EY

Malta

Tier 1

  • Avanzia Taxand, Taxand Malta
  • Deloitte
  • KPMG
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • EY
  • Fenech & Fenech Advocates

Netherlands

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • KPMG Meijburg & Co
  • Loyens & Loeff
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Allen & Overy
  • Atlas Tax Lawyers
  • BDO
  • Clifford Chance
  • De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek
  • Ryan
  • Stibbe
  • Taxand Netherlands

Norway

Tier 1

  • BA-HR
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Thommessen
  • Wiersholm

Tier 2

  • Arntzen de Besche

Poland

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • MDDP
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Aliant Krzyżowska
  • Crido Taxand, Taxand Poland
  • Dentons
  • DLA Piper Wiater
  • Grant Thornton
  • Linklaters
  • Taxonity
  • WTS Saja

Portugal

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Garrigues, Taxand Portugal
  • KPMG
  • Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados
  • PwC
  • Rogério Fernandes Ferreira & Associados
  • Uría Menéndez – Proença de Carvalho
  • Vieira de Almeida & Associados

Tier 2

  • Abreu Advogados
  • Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira
  • Grant Thornton
  • T Pricing Consultores

Russia

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Pepeliaev Group, Taxand Russia
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • BDO Unicon
  • CMS Russia
  • Dentons
  • Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners
  • FBK Legal
  • Goltsblat BLP
  • Sameta

South Africa

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • ENSafrica, Taxand South Africa
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Webber Wentzel

Tier 2

  • Bowman Gilfillan
  • Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
  • Fasken Martineau
  • Grant Thornton
  • Werksmans Attorneys

Spain

Tier 1

  • Cuatrecasas, Goncalves Pereira
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Garrigues, Taxand Spain
  • KPMG
  • Landwell
  • Uría Menéndez

Tier 2

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Grant Thornton
  • GTA Villamagna Abogados
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Squire Patton Boggs

Sweden

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Mannheimer Swartling
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • Grant Thornton
  • Skeppsbron Skatt, Taxand Sweden
  • Svalner
  • Vinge

Switzerland

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Homburger
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Tax Partner, Taxand Switzerland

Tier 2

  • Lenz & Staehelin
  • Oberson Abels
  • Pestalozzi
  • Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Tax Expert International
  • Walder Wyss

Turkey

Tier 1

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • Mazars Denge
  • PwC

Tier 2

  • BDO Denet
  • Erdikler, Taxand Turkey
  • WTS Çelen

Ukraine

Tier 1

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • Sayenko Kharenko
  • WTS

Tier 2

  • Avellum
  • Dentons
  • DLA Piper
  • Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners, Taxand Ukraine
  • Law Offices of OMP

UK

Tier 1

  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Clifford Chance
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Grant Thornton
  • KPMG
  • Linklaters
  • PwC
  • Slaughter and May

Tier 2

  • Alvarez & Marsal, Taxand UK
  • Ashurst
  • Berwin Leighton Paisner
  • DLA Piper
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Macfarlanes
  • Mayer Brown
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Paul Hastings
  • Pinsent Masons
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Transfer Pricing Solutions

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