Arbitration and tax treaty disputes

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The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan and its implementation around the world over the last few years has brought about widespread and fundamental changes to the international tax framework. A corollary of these changes has been an increase in international tax treaty disputes, as newly-designed rules are challenged by both taxpayers and tax administrations. This article seeks to examine how such controversies have been addressed in the past, and to evaluate whether in this new environment arbitration may provide the key to successful tax treaty dispute resolution, despite concerns regarding national sovereignty. It considers the changes effected to the traditional tax treaty dispute resolution mechanism under the Mutual Agreement Procedure by the Action 14 Final Report on Making Dispute Resolution Mechanisms More Effective. Furthermore, it evaluates the use of arbitration under the Multilateral Instrument, as well as the application of certain reservations and options available in this regard. It explores some of the benefits of instituting an arbitration procedure that will ensure resolution for all international stakeholders. Finally, it considers the potential for Advance Pricing Agreements to proactively resolve tax treaty disputes, and the need for taxpayers to take a strategic and informed view of controversy management in the international tax sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473–504
Number of pages32
JournalArbitration International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2019


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