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United States: Competent authority, changes regarding requests and APA consultations

Changes regarding requests and APA consultations

IRS officials recently announced changes to the procedures for filing documents under Rev. Proc. 2015-40 (mutual agreement procedure (MAP) requests) and under Rev. Proc. 2015-41 (advance pricing agreement (APA) requests and APA annual reports). These changes were released in a statement posted on the IRS webpage containing relief measures issued in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The IRS officials also provided responses from the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement program (APMA) to an increasing number of questions it has received about how the current economic environment is affecting its handling of pending APAs and executed APAs.

According to the IRS release (May 2020), under temporary guidance issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement (DCSE), in March 2020, any documents requiring the taxpayer's signature under either Rev. Proc. 2015-40 or Rev. Proc. 2015-41 may be submitted with either an image of the taxpayer's signature (scanned or photographed) or the taxpayer's digital signature created using encryption techniques to provide proof of original and unmodified documentation. Either form of signature is acceptable.

Also, the DCSE guidance clarifies that submissions required by either Rev. Proc. 2015-40 or Rev. Proc. 2015-41 may be filed electronically—paper copies are not required. Taxpayers with questions about these modifications may contact the Treaty Assistance and Interpretation Team (TAIT) or the applicable APMA program manager.


APA updated guidance

The IRS also explained that with regard to questions about pending and executed APAs, APMA is actively discussing various substantive and procedural issues with treaty partners, including such technical issues as the application of transfer pricing methods in periods of economic distress and the impacts of current economic conditions on specific industries, types of taxpayer, regions, etc.

Taxpayers wanting to discuss these and other general issues with APMA are directed to contact the appropriate APMA Assistant Director.

APMA will also discuss case-specific issues and concerns with taxpayers and treaty partners. In order to organize, prioritize, and coordinate consultation requests, APMA has requested that questions regarding executed APAs in which 2020 is a covered year be directed to the appropriate APMA Assistant Director.

Questions regarding pending APAs including 2020 need to be directed to the assigned APMA Team Leader.

Based upon the specific facts and circumstances (such as the status of negotiations with the treaty partner), APMA will decide whether and when a meeting with the taxpayer would be productive. When arranging any such meeting, APMA will ask that background information (such as a narrative about the issues and concerns being raised and current and forecast financial information), as well as any specific request or proposal concerning an executed or pending APA, be provided in writing at least two weeks in advance.

The IRS release include contact information for appropriate IRS resources for follow-up questions.

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