Offshore Transfer of Mining Assets

The Challenge

Transferring ownership of company assets (or the companies themselves) can generate significant income that many countries seek to tax as capital gains. Companies may structure transactions so that they fall outside the mining country’s tax base by selling shares in an offshore company holding the asset, often without notifying tax authorities in the country where the asset/company is located. This practice can also benefit from overly favourable provisions in tax treaties and has been the subject of multiple international arbitrations.

In recent years, many resource-rich countries have taken steps to review their domestic legislation and international treaty network to improve their ability to tax offshore indirect transfers of assets. However, challenges related to the valuation of mining licences and assets for the purpose of taxation can make implementation difficult.

Direct vs indirect transfers graphic

 

Heritage Oil Uganda example figure

Our Response

We are advising governments on strengthening their legal frameworks for taxing offshore indirect transfers, as well as providing capacity-building and audit assistance. We have developed a training program on valuing exploration and mining licences and permits. A practice note on the administrative challenges of taxing offshore indirect transfers and asset valuation in the mining sector will be completed in 2021.

More about our capacity building work

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“For the revenue authority it’s key to know how to revisit the gaps exploited by the multinationals, to artificially transfer profit where there is little or no economic activity.”