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International Tax Controversies: A Practical Guide (2020 Edition)

Author(s): Philip R. West, Michael Durst, Amanda Varma, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, J. Walker Johnson
Practice Area: Tax
Date: Aug 2019 i Other versions can be found in the Related Items tab.
ISBN: 9781402433740
PLI Item #: 267991

With the U.S. Justice Department taking an ever-closer look at cross-border transactions and their tax implications, the newInternational 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.

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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 is an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Her practice focuses on international tax controversies, including audits, Appeals, competent authority proceedings, and litigation, as well as international tax planning. She advises clients on a broad range of international tax matters, including tax treaty matters; withholding and reporting; transfer pricing; cross-border acquisitions, restructurings, and financings; anti-deferral rules; foreign tax credits; and business and individual voluntary disclosures. She is recommended in Legal 500 US, Tax: International Tax and Tax: Tax Controversy.

Michael C. Durst is an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C., and also serves as Special Counsel to Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He is a former director of the IRS’s advance rulings program in transfer pricing matters, the Advance Pricing Agreement Program. His current practice involves planning, compliance, and defense in tax controversies.