International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Updated guidance on tax treaties and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

This note revisits the guidance issued by the OECD Secretariat in April 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tax treaties.

Unprecedented measures imposed or recommended by governments, including travel restrictions and curtailment of business operations (broadly referred to in this guidance as public health measures), have been in effect in most jurisdictions in various forms and stages during most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this situation is expected to continue in 2021. This guidance is intended to provide more certainty to taxpayers during this exceptional period.

This guidance represents the Secretariat’s views on the interpretation of the provisions of tax treaties (i.e. each jurisdiction may adopt its own guidance to provide tax certainty to taxpayers). But it reflects the general approach of jurisdictions and illustrates how some jurisdictions have addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the tax situations of individuals and employers.

The guidance is relevant only to circumstances arising during the COVID-19 pandemic when public health measures are in effect. It seeks to avoid instances of double taxation but cannot be relied on to create instances of double non-taxation. Much of the analysis covers circumstances where factual determinations by tax administrations are required and the guidance does not purport to replace the judgement of tax administrations in those cases.

  • Concerns related to the creation of permanent establishments
  • Concerns related to change of residence
  • Concerns related to income from employment

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