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Belgium has become the latest country to push back the deadline for multinational companies to submit their first global tax reports to national tax officials.
The Belgian tax administration has extended by three months—to March 31, 2018, from Dec. 31, 2017—the deadline for resident companies to file their global tax reports to the government.
A notice announcing the change quietly appeared at the top of the transfer pricing section of the Federal Public Service Finance’s website Nov. 28. The notice said that “it was currently impossible” for taxpayers to submit a “BEPS 13 file” and that officials were doing everything they could to “resolve the problem as quickly as possible.”
Action 13 of the BEPS plan calls for groups with consolidated revenue of 750 million euros or more to submit reports detailing taxes paid and profits earned in each country of operation, this way providing a clearer picture of companies’ operations for all the countries in which they are active. Also known as country-by-country reports, global tax filings are the most widely adopted policy from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 15-action project to combat tax base erosion and profit shifting by multinationals.
Francis Adyns, a spokesman for the Federal Public Service Finance, explained that corporate taxpayers currently couldn’t submit their country-by-country reports through the tax administration’s online MyMinfin Pro application. “There are currently also still technical issues with the filing application for the other BEPS 13 forms,” he told Bloomberg Tax in a Dec. 1 emailed statement.
He added that the technical issues wouldn’t jeopardize timely exchange of the reports with other jurisdictions and pointed out that “a great deal of other countries” were still busy implementing national and international legislation related to country-by-country reporting.
Stefaan De Baets, previously an OECD transfer pricing adviser for five years before joining PwC Belgium as a senior counsel, told Bloomberg Tax that technical issues likely spurred officials to push back the deadline. “My impression is that the software that has to receive those XMLs and the like, is not ready,” he said Nov. 30, pointing out that national tax administrations are required to have an electronic filing system in place through which the documentation can be exchanged in XML file format.
De Baets added that the delays shouldn’t be interpreted as an unwillingness on the part of Belgian tax officials to implement Action 13. “This is a purely technical IT problem.”
After Ireland and Australia, Belgium is the third country this week to announce a deadline extension for the automatic exchange of multinational groups’ first global tax reports, highlighting that governments are struggling to implement the required filing systems.
Like the Belgian tax administration, the Irish Revenue has cited an issue with its electronic filing system for the country-by-country reports as the reason behind the delayed deadline.
In a Nov. 30 statement emailed to Bloomberg Tax, the Australian Taxation Office said it had pushed back the initial deadline because it fell during its closure period over the Christmas holiday. “Given this is the first time CBC reporting statements will be lodged, we want to allow taxpayers adequate time to prepare their statements and seek ATO assistance if required,” the spokesperson said.
— With assistance from Ben Stupples.
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