On Wednesday, 28 March 2018, the Government introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (OECD Multilateral Instrument) Bill 2018 in the House of Representatives.

The effect of this Bill will be to amend the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 (Agreements Act), to give the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (‘Multilateral Convention‘ or ‘MLI‘) the force of Law in Australia.

Technically, the Bill is very simple.

  • First, it defines the ‘Multilateral Convention’ in the terms set out above. This is s3AAA(1) of the Agreements Act. This is is in Schedule 1, Part 1, Item 1 of the Bill.
  • Second, it includes the Multilateral Convention, in s5 of the Agreements Act, which is the central provision giving the listed agreements force of law in Australia – in accordance with their tenor. This is in Schedule 1, Part 1, Item 2 of the Bill. Hitherto, all the listed agreements have been bilateral. This is the first ‘multilateral’ agreement to have been given the force of law in the Agreements Act.

APPLICATION of MLI – The Bill does not even have complicated application provisions (simply taking effect on the day it receives Royal Assent). Rather, it is the text of the Multilateral Instrument provides the application provisions (Articles 34 & 35).

  • The MLI must first come into ‘force‘ for Australia. Once this Bill is passed, Australia will deposit an instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of the OECD. The MLI will then take effect, on the first day of the month, after that deposit.
  • Then the MLI will ‘effect‘ various matters, in Australia’s bilateral treaties, as follows:
    • withholding tax – on amounts paid or deemed to be paid to a non-resident on or after 1 January occurring next after the MLI gained the force of law in in both Australia and the relevant partner jurisdiction;
    • all other taxes levied by Australia in relation to income, profits or gains in an income year that begins at least 6 months after MLI gained the force of law in in both Australia and the relevant partner jurisdiction;
    • the mutual agreement procedure and mandatory binding arbitration – generally, the later date of entry into force of the MLI for Australia and each of its relevant partner jurisdictions.

Draft legislation was released in early February 2018 (see related TT Tax Month article).

The terms of the MLI, itself, were covered in the TT Tax Month Article, above. The main parts of the MLI are separated into provisions governing hybrid mismatches (BEPS Action 2); treaty abuse (BEPS Action 6); avoidance of permanent establishment status (BEPS Action 7); and improving dispute resolution and arbitration (BEPS Action 14).

[APH website: Bill Tracker, Bill, EM; OECD website: Multilateral Instrument; FJM; LTN 60, 28/3/18; Tax Month March 2018]

Study questions (answers available)

  1. Will the effect, of this Bill, be to give the MLI the force of law, in Australia?
  2. Will this be done by including it in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936?
  3. Does the Bill contain the provisions about when the MLI will enter into force?
  4. Will the MLI then be in force, 3 months after the Bill receives Royal Assent?
  5. Is the MLI coming into force and taking effect the same thing?
  6. Does the MLI take effect, for IncomeTax, in the income year commencing at least 6 months after the MLI enters into force, for both Australia and the relevant bilateral treaty partner?





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