18/11/2020 – 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 releases today the latest mutual agreement procedure (MAP) statistics covering 105 jurisdictions and almost all MAP cases worldwide.
The 2019 MAP Statistics* and the 2019 MAP awards were presented during the second OECD Tax Certainty Day where tax officials and stakeholders from over 60 jurisdictions took stock of the tax certainty agenda and discussed ways to further improve dispute prevention and resolution. The discussions, which took place against the backdrop of the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, covered a wide range of tax certainly tools, including advance pricing arrangements, the International Compliance Assurance Programme (ICAP), bilateral and multilateral MAPs and the Forum on Tax Administration’s work on benchmarking.
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.
On the basis of the experience gained during the peer reviews (with 82 jurisdictions reviewed and 1500 recommendations issued), the OECD Secretariat has developed proposals to strengthen the BEPS Action 14 Minimum Standard on which stakeholder input would be welcome. These proposals relate to all aspects of the MAP process (dispute prevention, access to MAP, resolution of MAP cases and implementation of MAP agreements) as well as to the MAP Statistics Reporting framework. As taxpayers are the main users of the MAP, their input on these proposals will be key.
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 2019 MAP Statistics* show the following trends:
- Number of cases keeps increasing. Approximately 7 MAP cases were started every day in 2019 (3 transfer pricing cases and 4 other cases). This amounts to almost 2700 new cases in 2019 alone. This is more than in 2018 (+ 20% for transfer pricing cases and +10% for other cases) and means the number has nearly doubled since 2016. This trend is likely to continue with no significant reduction in MAP activity expected despite the COVID-2019 crisis. It is driven by a number of factors, including increased globalisation as well as growing confidence in and knowledge of the MAP process.
- Number of cases closed is increasing as well, but at a slower pace. Competent authorities were able to close more cases in 2019 than in 2018, but the increase cannot keep up with the increase in new cases. As a result, the inventories are increasing in the majority of jurisdictions, despite the fact that competent authorities have increased their capacity and closed approximately 50% more transfer pricing cases and 70% more other cases in 2019 than in 2016.
- Outcomes are generally positive. Around 85% of the MAPs concluded for transfer pricing cases in 2019 fully resolved the issue (compared to 80% in 2018), which reflects an improvement in the collaborative approach taken by competent authorities. For other cases, more than 70% were fully resolved (versus 75% in 2018). Like in 2018, only 2% of the MAP cases were closed without finding a mutual agreement.
- Cases still take a long time to be resolved. On average, MAP cases closed in 2019 lasted for 25 months (31 months for transfer pricing cases, 22 months for other cases). Also, while it is not possible to estimate the time that will be necessary to close still pending cases, the data shows that more than one-fifth of the 2019 end inventory has been pending for more than 4 years. For some jurisdictions, the cases that were already pending before the introduction of the minimum standard represent more than 40% of their 2019 end inventory (see ‘compare your country’ interactive tool).
This year’s MAP Awards, given in recognition of particular efforts by competent authorities, saw the following winners: Japan for the shortest time in closing transfer pricing cases, ex-aequo with the United Kingdom, who also won the prize for other cases. Belgium for the smallest proportion of pre-2016 cases in end inventory and Belgium and Norway for the most effective caseload management. The collaborative award for the pairs of jurisdictions that dealt the most effectively with their joint caseload were India-Japan for transfer pricing cases and Norway-United States for other cases.