Takeaways from Operational Taxes for Investment Firms Conference
Operational Taxes for Investment Firms Conference
The Operational Taxes for Investment Firms conference took place in London on October 4. This meeting brought together HMRC (His Majesties Revenue and Customs) with investment firms tax operations, tax advisory and corporate tax professionals. The conference was an in-person event. It was great to see all who could attend and connect with industry thought leaders.
The panels featured an impressive and knowledgeable group of experts and covered topics ranging from: UK and EU tax relationship and divergences, UK stamp duty reform, EU withholding taxes, FATCA and CRS data scrutiny, VAT developments, ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds and state of the UK Funds regime. From the robust panel discussion highlighted takeaways from the conference include:
- Rate of Change in global tax information reporting is unprecedented
- CRS and FATCA importance of accurate and complete data
- European withholding tax new program - FASTER
Rate of Change
The conference was chaired by Ali Kazimi from Hansuke consulting. His opening remarks emphasized the unprecedented rate of changes and the challenges of planning with all the new and updated regulations affecting operational taxes over the next few years. Changes to tax regulations that were highlighted in the opening remarks and throughout the conference include:
Common Reporting Standards 2.0
UK Stamp Duty reform
New EU withholding tax regime coming (OECD Faster) (effective proposed date January 1, 2027)
Crypto Asset Framework (CARF) (effective date January 1, 2026)
US tax reporting for Digital Assets (effective proposed date January 1, 2026)
Tax transparency rules for crypto-asset transactions (DAC8) (effective date January 1, 2026)
CRS and FATCA data scrutiny
The conference included a discussion regarding FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and CRS (Common Reporting Standards) data scrutiny. The panel consisted of David Bolner of TAINA, Marteen Van Der Hoeven from Aberdeen Standard Investments and David Smith from HMRC.
The Panel discussed 4 broad topics.
- Compliance program for FATCA and CRS
- What is coming with CRS 2.0?
- FATCA and CRS data accuracy, and scrutiny
- CRS and FATCA data and reporting impact of investors
The discussion highlighted the components to a robust framework for a compliance program framework. They were:
- Sufficient and robust internal controls
- This can include segregation of duties between tax advisory, tax operations, tax control/responsible officer
- Documentation – importance of policies and procedures
- Reviews by independent reviewers.
- Importance to documented corrections from independent reviewers
- Considerations for when outsourcing a function to a vendor.
- Oversight and governance of work performed by service providers.
- Internal controls to manage outsource risks.
- Access to the information from outsource providers including, KPIs (key performance indicators) documents and data.
- Key for many regulators is the ability to show compliance and efforts to make improvements to compliance (not just a policy and procedure document)
- Governance model is fundamental and can vary depending on the size and complexity of an organization a Tax Responsible Officer can be by company, region or business units
What is coming with CRS 2.0?
Over the last 7 years, tax authorities identified certain information that would be beneficial that was not being shared between countries with CRS. From a longer list of potential new data elements, it came down to five that will be included for CRS 2.0:
- Identify whether an account is new or preexisting
- Does the account have a valid self-certification
- Is it a joint account and number of account holders
- Type of account (e.g. Depository, custodial, etc.)
- List of Controlling person
Additionally, there will be carve out for nonprofits and a new excluded account- capital contribution.
In addition, what was heard overall from HMRC and other panelist across the four topics include:
FATCA and CRS are now beyond best efforts for compliance, in the UK and other jurisdictions enforcement to the regimes from the tax authorities is being seen.
For compliance, many tax authorities work from the data received back. The information provided at the end of the process by financial institutions is what the regulators see. Having inconsistent reporting or incomplete data all raises awareness to the regulators that can lead to regulator inquiries and eventual audits.
Level of CRS compliance feeds into the overall risk rating of a financial institution.
CRS Compliance checks by tax authorities can be expected to rise across a number of countries.
Tax authorities have the ability to link CRS data to taxpayers.
Increasing appetite by tax authorities to use CRS data for broader tax compliance purposes.
There is an increasing focus by regulators on the quality of the data obtained by financial institutions.
The UK has a good matching rate of CRS information exchanged matched to taxpayers.
Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) collection is improving. Focus on TINs is not expected to reduce. Tax authorities observe overall the number of TINs obtained is on the rise.
- The UK is following risk-based approach, they are not using checklists.
Faster proposal and Withholding Tax Reclaim Procedures across Europe
Two of the sessions related to European Withholding tax and the new OECD Faster (Faster and Safer Tax Excess Relief) proposal. The discussions included Lourdes Bustos - Policy Officer, European Commission who was able to share information from the commission.
The European Commission proposed new rules for withholding tax procedures (June, 2023) New rules on withholding tax procedures in the EU (europa.eu). The proposal’s aim is to make cross border investment withholding procedures more efficient and secure for investors, financial intermediaries and governments. A key driver for the proposal is combatting tax fraud and abuse.
The intention of the new regulations is to introduce a “common, standardized, EU-wide system for withholding tax relief at source.”
- This proposal is calling for:
- Common EU digital tax residence certificate
- Standardize adoption of relief at source procedure and quick refund procedures
- Standard reporting procedures
- Establishment of National Register of certified financial intermediaries
- The proposal is targeting January 1, 2027, adoption
- Source New rules on withholding tax procedures in the EU (europa.eu)
Discussed were some of the challenges of the recent proposal including:
- Will all members move at the same pace with all aspects and meet the January 1, 2027 target date?
- What are certain countries, like Germany, have recently updated to more robust withholding systems, going to do?
- There may be changes to the proposal as it is going through negotiations and national implementations.
- The European Commission provides the overall guidelines for EU member firms to adopt. Currently, none have been fully adopted by the member countries.
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