The base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) was intended to replace some complexities of the federal corporate alternative minimum tax. But in reality, this regulation makes it more complex for multinational companies to calculate the new liabilities related to this still-evolving regulation.

US-based organizations with average annual gross receipts
exceeding $500 million over the prior three-year period may be subject to BEAT.  It can be difficult for these organizations
to determine which payments are tax worthy, and therefore difficult to figure
out strategies for minimizing those taxes.

For instance, says BlackLine Value Engineer Katie Thayer,
while BEAT applies to trade payments between US nationals and foreign
subsidiaries, it also applies to non-trade payments. And that’s where BEAT gets
tricky.

“ERP systems are generally good at documenting trade
transactions,” she says. “These mainly consist of direct payments for goods to supplier
subsidies.

“But ERPs are not effective at documenting non-trade
transactions with subsidiaries, such as R&D, legal, training and other
costs. These types of transactions can get very complicated.

“You’ve got to get into the transaction-level detail to see
how some of these charges apply.”

The problem is that with many companies, the necessary
non-trade transaction details—markups, withholding taxes, VAT taxes, or whether
a transfer pricing agreement was in effect—are lost in emails, legal documents,
or spreadsheets.

“The details are somewhere,” Thayer says, “but they’re not always easy to find. Also, for companies with 20 or 50 or more ERP systems, it’s next to impossible to aggregate everything up into one reliable data set.”

Going Holistic

That’s why BlackLine uses what Thayer calls a holistic approach to end-to-end intercompany transactions.

“We track each transaction from beginning to end, from
initiation through to settlement and reporting,” she says. “And we track all
trade and non-trade transactions, pulling information out of spreadsheets, ERPs,
and other sources.”

Once the BlackLine
Intercompany Hub
is set up, companies no longer have to initiate transactions
by email, an inefficient practice that can result in lost information and risk
regulation penalties.

“When you can see the intercompany detail in one place, you can
then determine exactly which transactions are relevant to the BEAT calculation,
and which aren’t.

“This can save a lot of time that’s wasted by chasing down paper trails, and can potentially avoid the risk of significant penalties.”

Read our latest issue of BlackLine Quarterly to learn more about how to increase the quality of and trust in your data.


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