Only 26% of New Zealand business leaders believe the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan is likely to be successful, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report survey.
Globally this figure is even lower. Just 19% of the 3,000 businesses in 40 countries that were surveyed expect the action plan to have the desired effect.
Although there was a great sense of countries working together at the start, as the project progresses, some countries are stepping back from consensus. There are indications that many countries may selectively implement only the changes that suit them, giving rise to added complexity and compliance burdens for business.
Greg Thompson, Partner and National Director, Tax at Grant Thornton New Zealand said the concern is that the proposals could have a disproportionate impact on mid-size multinationals, as few have the resources or capabilities to comply and adapt in the envisaged timelines.
Companies relying on the development of ideas, innovations and creative content (including media and technology) are likely to be particularly affected.
Thompson said: “The Action Plan is set to add yet more complexity to an already fast changing and politically fraught tax landscape. We urge all companies to develop a clear understanding of what the proposals mean for their business. It's not too late to engage in shaping the final form of these proposals, which will evolve and be refined over the coming months and into next year.
“Many of the objectives of the BEPS Action Plan are valid. They include the elimination of loopholes that allow profits to ‘disappear’ for tax purposes. The concern is that the scope has broadened to such an extent that the Action Plan will touch almost every area of international taxation. It’s as if in an attempt to get rid of some traffic black spots, the authorities have decided to overhaul the entire road network and require every driver to modify their car.
“Mid-size companies are going to be swept up in the tide of the changes and face extra work in complying, even though they’re often not the ones using the avoidance schemes the Action Plan is seeking to eliminate.
“Companies face considerable uncertainty over how to structure business going forward, which could hold up investment and stifle creativity,” said Thompson.
Grant Thornton today launched 'Getting to grips with the BEPS Action Plan', a new report into what the planned overhaul of the international tax system means for businesses and how they can prepare.