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International Tax Controversies: A Practical Guide (2022 Edition)

Author(s): Philip R. West, Amanda P. Varma, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, J. Walker Johnson, Matthew Frank
Practice Area: Cross-border transactions, International law, International tax, Tax, Tax treaties
Date: Oct 2021 i Other versions can be found in the Related Items tab.
ISBN: 9781402439322
PLI Item #: 319473

With the U.S. Justice Department taking an ever-closer look at cross-border transactions and their tax implications, the new International Tax Controversies: A Practical Guide provides a detailed roadmap to how to prepare for a tax audit that involves an international component. Creating and retaining the proper transaction-related documentation, and understanding what additional documentation might be needed for an international examination, is vital to a successful audit. 

International Tax Controversies describes the process of how an international audit proceeds, including providing information on:

  • How the IRS audit team is chosen
  • What the limits are of the scope of the examination
  • The type of examination that will be conducted and the kinds of documents that will need to be provided by the taxpayer and third parties
  • The kinds of enforcement procedures that may be brought

In international tax situations, there are often conflicting positions taken by the U.S. Internal Review Service and a non-U.S. tax authority. Tax treaties containing mutual agreement procedures (MAPs) are often invoked to protect the taxpayer from paying double taxes. International Tax Controversies describes the process by which MAPs may be invoked and a binding resolution created. 

As most disagreements between international taxing entities involve transfer pricing issues, there is generally an opportunity to obtain an advance pricing agreement (APA) to protect the taxpayer. International Tax Controversies analyzes the APA process, providing a detailed guide on facilitating the process for your client. It also describes the many tax information exchange treaties and agreements that the U.S. has entered into, and the impact they have had on the U.S. taxpayer.

Phil West, Steptoe’s chair, is a trusted adviser to major multinationals and high-net-worth individuals on international tax issues, and is widely regarded as one of the premier international tax lawyers in the United States. He often achieves exceptional results for clients in complex and high-profile tax controversies; legislative, regulatory, ruling, and competent authority proceedings; and other matters. He advises clients on both technical questions and issues of broad policy significance, including those relating to tax planning, tax treaties, foreign tax credits, transfer pricing, territoriality, BEAT, GILTI, FDII, tax withholding and reporting (including FATCA), and the tax aspects of cross-border mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, investment funds, and financings. Drawing on three decades of private sector and public service experience, including as the Treasury Department’s International Tax Counsel, the senior international tax law and policy official in the US government during those years, Phil often assumes responsibility for relationships with taxing authorities that have become needlessly adversarial and achieves unusually favorable outcomes. He also has extensive advocacy experience on issues before Congress, the Treasury Department, and international organizations.

In his capacity as a Treasury Department official, Phil played a central role in virtually every policy, legislative, and regulatory development in the international tax area. He led tax treaty negotiations, discussions, and ratification efforts involving countries throughout the world, and played a major role in the US work at the OECD. He has practical experience with many foreign tax systems and good relationships with foreign tax officials and private practitioners around the world. He is regularly called on to advise clients and government officials alike with respect to sensitive and complex tax matters, and has testified before Congress several times on international tax matters. Chambers, The Legal 500, and other rankings consistently place him in the top tier of international tax practitioners.

J. WALKER JOHNSON is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. At Steptoe, Mr. Johnson’s practice focuses on tax controversies and tax litigation. He has litigated numerous cases in district court, the Tax Court and the Court of Federal Claims, as well as in various Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining Steptoe, he was a Trial Attorney at the Department of Justice’s Tax Division, where he was awarded the Tax Division’s Outstanding Attorney Award. Mr. Johnson’s practice has involved not only transfer pricing, but also the taxation of insurance companies and other financial institutions. Since 1987, he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Graduate Tax Program at the Georgetown University Law Center, teaching a course titled Taxation of Financial Institutions and Products. He is consistently recommended for tax controversy in Chambers USA, Legal 500 US, and Lawyers in America.

Amanda Varma advises multinational businesses, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals on US federal income tax matters, with particular focus on international tax planning and controversies. She counsels both US- and foreign-owned businesses across a variety of industries, regularly advising on the US tax consequences of cross-border investments, reorganizations, business restructurings, acquisitions, and financings.

In addition to advising clients on international tax planning, Amanda represents clients in IRS examinations, appeals, and trial and appellate court litigation. She regularly advises clients on special issues arising in international tax controversies, including competent authority and information exchange issues.

Amanda is an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Graduate Tax Program at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches US International Inbound Tax, a course focusing on the US taxation of foreign persons investing in the United States.

Amanda is the chair of Steptoe's Women's Forum, which is devoted to connecting, developing, and supporting Steptoe's women professionals.

Matthew Frank is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He has more than thirty years of experience in litigation, tax controversy, and transfer pricing. He has held  high-level positions in government service as an in- house tax executive, as an advisor, and as an academic. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Frank was a principal in a Big 4 firm and focused on transfer pricing dispute resolution. Prior to that, Mr. Frank was in- house at General Electric Company (GE) for nine years (2008–2017) as Senior Tax Counsel, Transfer Pricing, where he was the global leader for GE’s transfer pricing exams, controversies, and public policy matters. Before going in- house to GE, Mr. Frank was the Director of the U.S. Advance Pricing Agreement Program at the IRS from 2003 to 2008, overseeing the operations of the entire program, which works with multinational corporations to resolve a wide range of cross- border transfer pricing issues.