Political leaders, media outlets, and civil society around the world have expressed growing concern about tax planning by multinational enterprises (MNEs) that makes use of gaps in the interaction of different tax systems to artificially reduce taxable income or shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions in which little or no economic activity is performed. In response to this concern, and at the request of the G20, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published an Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS Action Plan, OECD, 2013) in July 2013.

Please find attached short summaries with regard to the different BEPS action points together with our observations and the respective developments in Switzerland.

This issue is related to Action 3 on designing effective controlled foreign company rules (CFC). These rules respond to the risk that taxpayers with a controlling interest in a foreign subsidiary can strip the base of their country of residence and, in some cases, other countries by shifting income into a CFC. Without such rules, CFCs provide opportunities for profit shifting and long-term deferral of taxation.

Since the first CFC rules were enacted in 1962, an increasing number of jurisdictions have implemented these rules. Currently, 30 of the countries participating in the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project have CFC rules, and many others have expressed interest in implementing them. However, existing CFC rules have often not kept pace with changes in the international business environment, and many of them have design features that do not tackle BEPS effectively.

In response to the challenges faced by existing CFC rules, the Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS Action Plan, OECD, 2013) called for the development of recommendations regarding the design of CFC rules. This is an area where the OECD has not done significant work in the past, and this report recognises that by working together countries can address concerns about competiveness and level the playing field. The report sets out recommendations in the form of building blocks. These recommendations are not minimum standards, but they are designed to ensure that jurisdictions that choose to implement them will have rules that effectively prevent taxpayers from shifting income into foreign subsidiaries.

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