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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Archive for July, 2019

Seeking inaugural cohort of tax professionals to pilot Texas A&M’s International Tax online curriculum starting August 26, 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on July 29, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties, and provide weekly feedback on content, support, and general experience in exchange for waiving the tuition and providing the books free.

What is the tuition waiver offer?

For new degree candidates who apply and enroll for this inaugural Fall semester of the international tax curriculum 2019 semester, Texas A&M University will waive the tuition for this Fall 2019 semester in exchange for the candidates providing weekly feedback and engagement to improve the Fall courses and learning experience. Moreover, the Fall semester textbook and companion study guide are provided free.

Normal Texas A&M University tuition and available financial aid applies after the Fall term and is available at https://law.tamu.edu/llm-mjur-programs/tuition Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

How do I apply for the inaugural cohort?

Only for this inaugural cohort, completed applications may be submitted directly, via the below-expedited process, to the law school’s admission office until noon central daylight time (CDT – Dallas) on August 22, 2019.   A completed Fall application must include four items:

(1) the completed and signed law school application (application fees and letters of recommendation are waived for Fall 2019 international tax);

(2) statement of interest for the international tax program that includes mention of prior tax or related experience.

(3) resume/CV reflecting at least three years of employment as a tax advisor or five years employment in a related field; and

(4) an official transcript from the highest academic degree awarded by an accredited University sent to Texas A&M University: Official electronic transcripts can be sent to law-admissions@law.tamu.edu  FedEx, UPS, DHL express mail can be sent to Attn: Office of Graduate Admissions 1515 Commerce Street Fort Worth, TX 76102-6509

To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

What is the proposed curriculum of 12 international tax courses?

International Taxation & Treaties I (3 credits)                  International Taxation & Treaties II (3 credits)

Transfer Pricing I (3 credits)                                          Transfer Pricing II (3 credits)

Tax Risk Management (3 credits)                                  FATCA & CRS (3 credits)

International Tax Planning (3 credits)                             Country Tax Systems (3 credits)

U.S. Int’l Tax (3 credits)                                                 EU Taxation (3 credits)

VAT/GST/Sales (3 credits)                                            Customs & Excises (3 credits)

Ethics in Decision Making (1 credit required to graduate)

What distinguishes Texas A&M’s International Tax curriculum?

Since the original 1994 curriculum focus on tax risk management and methodology, the curriculum and the program operational structure continue to evolve based on in-depth industry research. “The central function of the tax office has evolved from strategy and planning into risk management”, says William Byrnes, professor of law and associate dean at Texas A&M University. “This evolution has been accelerated by trends — primarily globalization, transparency and regulatory reform — and by the OECD (through the project on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, or BEPS), the United States (through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and the European Union.”

In 2019, Hanover Research on behalf of Texas A&M undertook an extensive long-form survey, including interviews, of 146 tax executives about the needs and value-added of Texas A&M’s new international tax curriculum. The surveys 2019 tax professionals included: 29% U.S. and 71% foreign resident. Half the participants were tax professionals of AmLaw 100 firms (27%) or of Big 4 accounting (21%). The other half of participants were tax professionals of large multinational tax departments in the following industries: Finance / Banking / Insurance; Consulting; Business / Professional Services; Computers (Hardware, Desktop Software); Telecommunications; Aerospace / Aviation / Automotive; Healthcare / Medical; Manufacturing; Food Service; Internet; Mining; Pharmaceutical / Chemical; Real Estate; and Transportation / Distribution. Four percent of survey participants were executive-level government tax authority staff.

Besides the actual design of the course curriculum, two interesting outcomes from the industry interviews are:

  • The faculty and graduate degree candidates must be multidisciplinary, including both tax lawyers and non-lawyer tax professionals (e.g. accountants, finance executives, and economists) engaged together in learning teams with practical case studies and projects that are “applicable in a real-world context”.
  • The curriculum must include the perspectives of tax mitigation and of tax-risk management with exposure to state-of-the-industry data analytics.

In its Tax Insights magazine that is distributed globally to clients, the Big 4 firm EY stated: “Texas A&M University is among the pioneers of change in tax education”.

Texas A&M professor William Byrnes explains: “A risk management approach to tax means that the new model will by definition be multidisciplinary. Financial and managerial accounting– and law– will still be important, of course. But students will also need new “hard” skills involving big data and communications technologies and “soft” skills geared to working in multicultural settings both at home and abroad.” Says Byrnes, “You don’t want to have people who are living in the ‘Stone Age’ (pre-2015) trying to work in a 2016-onward world.” 

What is the proposed course schedule during an academic year?

Fall 2019 Part A (6 week term)                                    Fall 2019 Part B (6 week term)     

International Taxation & Treaties I                                  International Taxation & Treaties II 

Spring 2020 Part A (6 week term)                              Spring 2020 Part B (6 week term)

Transfer Pricing I                                                             Transfer Pricing II

Summer 2020 concurrent 6 week term

Tax Risk Management & Data Analytics             FATCA & CRS

Fall 2020 Part A                                                           Fall 2020 Part B

International Tax Planning                                             Country Tax Systems

International Taxation & Treaties I                                  International Taxation & Treaties II

Spring 2021 Part A                                                      Spring 2021 Part B

U.S. Int’l Tax                                                                 EU Taxation

Transfer Pricing I                                                           Transfer Pricing II

Summer 2021 concurrent term

VAT/GST/Sales             Customs & Excises

Tax Risk Management               FATCA & CRS

When are the semesters?

Fall:                 August 26 until December 14, 2019

Spring:             January 9 until April 30, 2020

Summer:          May 18 until July 11, 2020

Who is leading and creating this International Tax curriculum?

The International Tax curriculum has been developed and is led by Professor William Byrnes (Texas A&M University Law).  In 1994, Professor William Byrnes founded the first international tax program leveraging online education and in 1998 founded the first online international tax program to be acquiesced by the American Bar Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  He is recognized globally as an online education pioneer focused on learner outcomes and best practices leveraging state of the art educational technology.  William Byrnes is also an international tax authority as LexisNexis’ leading published author of nine international tax treatises and compendium, annually updated, and a 10 volume service published by Wolters Kluwer.  His LinkedIn group International Tax Planning Professionals has over 25,000 members and is the largest international tax network on LinkedIn.

If you want to ask questions about the curriculum or how the online courses are as effective as residential ones, reach out to Professor William Byrnes at williambyrnes@law.tamu.edu.

How much time per week does a course require?

Each course unfolds over six weeks, designed to require 15 to 20 hours of input each week. This weekly input includes reviewing materials, listening to podcasts, watching video content, participating in discussion forums, engaging in live class sessions, and working with classmates on team-based learning projects. Working with the colleague groups on real-world case studies is critical to the educational experience.  Potential applicants must have available three to five hours per week to spend developing and working with colleagues on group case studies using communications technologies like Zoom video.

What is the title of this graduate degree?

For lawyers, it is a Master of Laws (LL.M.) and for accountants, tax professionals and economists, it is a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.).  The degree is awarded by Texas A&M University via the School of Law. Completion of a curriculum, which is like a ‘major’ for university studies, is also recognized with a frameable certificate issued by the School of Law.

What are the minimum requirements of the application for each degree?

  • All applicants must have previous domestic tax or accounting professional experience reflected on the CV of work experience.
  • The Master of Laws (LL.M.) is awarded to successful graduates who hold a law degree from a law school or faculty of law that is accredited by the American Bar Association or if a foreign law degree then accredited by a governmental accreditation body and that allows the graduate eligibility for that country’s practice of law.
  • The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) is awarded to all other successful graduates. Applicants for the Master of Jurisprudence must hold a prior degree from an accredited academic institution in business, accounting, finance, economics, or related business field.

What are the program requirements to graduate?

The Master of Laws candidates must complete at least 24 credits to be eligible to graduate.  The Master of Jurisprudence candidates must complete at least 30 credits to be eligible to graduate.

All candidates must complete the Ethics in Decision Making course to be eligible to graduate, which presents networking opportunities with candidates of the Risk management and Wealth Management curricula. Master of Jurisprudence candidates must also complete an Introduction to U.S. Law course which will include networking among all law graduate curricula.

Candidates must complete at least six courses specific to a curriculum in order to be eligible for a degree. Without permission, candidates are allowed to enroll in up to two courses from another curriculum.

How many months to graduate?

Normally, candidates will enroll in two courses during Fall and Spring semester, focusing on one course each term (Fall and Spring have two terms of six weeks each).  Candidates may enroll in one or two courses for the Summer semester, which is only one six-week term.  Thus, most candidates will reach eligibility to graduate within two years.  Candidates have the flexibility as to how many or few courses to enroll each term, subject to university graduate program rules. Candidates may complete the program in one year to as long as four years.  Each course in a curriculum is offered once per year.

Are these degrees eligible for the Aggie Ring and membership in the Texas A&M Former Student Network (Texas A&M alumni)?

Yes, all international tax graduates will become a member of the Texas A&M family.  Texas A&M is renown for the loyalty and engagement among its former students within the Texas Aggie clubs established throughout the world. Texas A&M has graduated over 500,000 “Aggies” who are eligible to wear the Texas A&M ring to identify each other throughout the world. See https://www.aggienetwork.com/

Will there be on-campus opportunities?

Yes.  Graduation, with on-campus activities hosted at the law school, is May 1, 2020.  October 24-25, 2019 is a networking conference of the risk, wealth, and international tax graduate students piggybacking on Texas A&M’s Financial Planning conference: Thursday night networking banquet and Friday conference activities. See https://financialplanning.tamu.edu/events/conference/  Saturday, October 26, 2019 is a Texas A&M football game at the on-campus Kyle stadium that two years ago underwent a $485 million renovation. The graduate program office has inquired about a block of tickets in the same section for students interested in purchasing a ticket and staying over for the game.  Texas A&M football games are sold out with a capacity of over 100,000 seats and thus, Friday night hotel reservations in College Station should be made ASAP.  Other opportunities will be announced during the program year.

What is Texas A&M University?

Texas A&M, the second largest U.S. public university, is one of the only 60 accredited U.S. members of the American Association of Universities (R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity), and one of the only 17 U.S. universities that hold a triple U.S. federal designation (Land, Sea, and Space).  As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery: research conducted in fiscal year 2017 at Texas A&M represented an annual expenditure of more than $900 million.  The Texas A&M University system’s operating budget exceeds $4.6 billion and Texas A&M’s combined endowments are 7th largest among universities in the world.

Texas A&M is ranked 1st among national public universities for a superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018); ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018); and ranked 1st in nation for most graduates serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (Fortune, 2019).  During the program, a candidate learns Texas A&M’s traditions and six core values that are grounded in its history as one of the six U.S. senior military colleges: Loyalty, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, Respect, and Selfless Service.

Which government and professional organizations accredit Texas A&M University?

For the complete list, see https://www.tamu.edu/statements/accreditation.html

What are the other curricula’s courses that are available to international tax candidates? 

Risk Curriculum                                              Wealth Curriculum

Enterprise Risk & Data Analytics                        Taxation of Business Associations

Information Security Management Systems        Securities Regulations

Counter-Terrorism Risk Management                 Financial & Portfolio Management

Cybersecurity                                                   Income Tax Financial Planning

Anti-Money Laundering & Bank                          Principles of Wealth Management

Principles of Risk Management                          Estate Planning, Insurance, and Annuities

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act                            Advanced Wealth Management

Fiduciary & Risk Management                            Non-Profit & Fiduciary Administration

White-Collar Crime                                            Retirement & Benefits

Legal Risk Management                                    Insurance Law (& Alternative Risk Transfer)

Financial Innovations

Posted in Courses, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Professor Jeffery Kadet responds with his thoughts on the Nike European Commission Decision

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2019


Professor Jeffrey Kadet (University of Washington Law) responds below to my thoughts about Nike’s state aid case (Thank you Professor Kadet for your very informed counter to my contentions)

William, it was a pleasure reading your piece on the Nike situation (below in this blog).  I have a few thoughts. Please feel free to add this to your blog if you think these thoughts would be useful to the discussion.

I of course agree with your analysis of transfer pricing and the various functions that are performed (or not performed) in various places. My focus is rather on how groups like Nike, Starbucks, and Apple have potentially hoisted themselves on their own petards.

What do I mean by this? I mean that these groups created structures that make no sense except in light of a tax ruling that never should have been issued in the first place. They were so excited about their respective rulings that they didn’t build into their structures any Plan B in case the ruling were unexpectedly revoked or disappeared for any reason. They of course didn’t anticipate the European Commission actions; nobody anticipated it. But now that it’s there, they’re stuck with the structures they created.

Nike chose to place ownership of certain production and marketing intangibles through a cost-sharing agreement in a special purpose company (initially Nike International Limited and then later Nike International CV) with no personnel or operations of its own. The SPC then licensed whatever IP it held to Nike European Operations Netherlands BV, which clearly conducts an operating business. Since the focus here is Dutch taxation and not U.S. taxation, we ignore the check-the-box structure that Nike presumably created in which the SPC and NEON are merely divisions within one Nike CFC. I haven’t seen any public information on the group’s actual structure in this regard except within the July 29, 2016, Tax Court petition, which described NEON as “a disregarded subsidiary of NIKE Pegasus”.

In any case, the European Commission decision notes that NEON was established and began operations in 1994. The decision goes on to say that NEON has been acting as a principal and regional HQ since 2006. This at least implies that it conducted activities prior to 2006 as either an agent or distributor. In any case, it would have in all years conducted real operations locally and within Europe that added to the group’s marketing intangibles.

Maybe on the surface, NEON is just distributing branded products. However, contractually and economically, it is a manufacturer. How does it do its manufacturing? Prior to a 2009 restructuring, it contracted directly with contract manufacturers using Nike Inc. as an agent for arranging and contracting with these manufacturers. As described in the decision, Nike Inc. conducted for NEON as its agent the types of functions described in Reg §1.954-3(a)(4)(iv)(b) [Foreign base company sales income – (4)Property manufactured, produced, or constructed by the controlled foreign corporation]. Following the 2009 restructuring when the Singapore branch of Nike Trading Company BV was added to the mix, things are less clear but it seems doubtful that many production functions changed. Likely, a few functions might have been moved from the U.S. to Singapore. That, however, logically shouldn’t change NEON’s character as a manufacturer.

With the above in mind, Nike has voluntarily created NEON, which has conducted an active business now for 25 years. Over those years, it has created to some extent the marketing intangibles that it uses. This is in addition to whatever IP rights it secures from the SPC under the license agreement. Further, either through its own personnel or through its agents it is conducting all production activities aside from the physical production itself. NEON has never suggested that it has a PE in the U.S. or elsewhere that is conducting purchasing functions.

Nike structured an active manufacturing and sales business within NEON, which pays (i) a royalty for manufacturing IP and some marketing IP to an SPC with no operations of its own, and (ii) service fees (the arm’s length nature of which no one is questioning) to Nike Inc. and NTC for their production functions. NEON has no PE outside the Netherlands to which any profits could be attributed. Any royalty that NEON pays should be an arm’s length royalty for manufacturing IP and any marketing IP that NEON does not already hold based on its activities since its formation in 1994. To suggest that commercial returns in excess of this arm’s length royalty should be included in an expanded royalty to the SPC is completely contrary and out of phase with the structure that Nike voluntarily created. The revenues, production costs, and other expenses that NEON earns or incurs should be fully within the Dutch tax computation; there’s nowhere else it can go.

The same issue of creating a structure dependent on a tax ruling that invites, in the absence of that ruling, full taxation in the country where operations are being conducted is true as well for Starbucks in the Netherlands and Apple in Ireland. The latter, of course, created Apple Sales International, which manufactures products through contract manufacturers and sells them. With all the manufacturing functions (aside from the physical manufacturing performed by contract manufacturers) presumably being conducted by related parties under service agreements, there again is no basis to suggest that any of ASI’s profits should be attributed to some location outside of Ireland. Should the service fee payable to Apple U.S. group members be higher? Probably, but Apple chose its structure and the level of intercompany service fees. The ruling that created an allocation to a home office with no personnel or physical operations is creating a fiction. With the ruling being negated by the Commission’s decision and with no Plan B, Apple created its own mess.

William, I hope the above is useful to your thinking.

All the best,

Jeff (his faculty website is here)

Posted in Tax Policy, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 25, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 25, 2019

View in Browser

Taxpayer Cannot Shield Self-Directed IRA Assets from Bankruptcy Creditors

The 11th Circuit recently confirmed that a taxpayer was not entitled to creditor protection in bankruptcy with respect to a self-directed IRA that he used for impermissible purposes. The issue in this case was not whether IRA funds were used for prohibited personal use, however, but whether the assets left within the IRA could be protected from creditors in bankruptcy. The court ruled that the creditors could access amounts left in the IRA, regardless of whether that IRA continued to be tax-exempt, because the taxpayer failed to properly maintain the IRA by withdrawing funds for prohibited reasons in the past. For more information on the tax treatment of IRA assets in bankruptcy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Proposed Regulations Would Eliminate the MEP “One Bad Apple Rule”

The IRS and Treasury have released proposed regulations that would eliminate the so-called “one bad apple rule” for multiple employer plans (MEPs). Under the one bad apple rule, the entire MEP could be disqualified based upon the actions of only one employer that participated in the plan. To qualify, the plan must have established practices and procedures designed to ensure compliance by all MEP participants. The failure must be isolated to a single employer, and cannot be a widespread issue across the employers. The plan administrator must have a process in place that would provide notice to the employer responsible for the failure, and such notice should include a description of the failure, actions necessary to remedy the failure, notice that the relevant employer has only 90 days from the notice date to take remedial action, a description of the consequences for failure to take the remedial action and notice of the right to spin off the non-compliant employer’s portion of the plan and assets. After providing the initial notice and two subsequent notices, the MEP must notify all participants, stop accepting contributions from the noncompliant party and implement spin off procedures designed to terminate the noncompliant employer’s interests in the MEP. For more information on plan qualification requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Considering an Opportunity Zone Investment? Here’s How to Tell the IRS

Now that the IRS has released a significant amount of guidance on the opportunity zone rules, qualified opportunity zone funds are likely to become more common, leading taxpayers to question how to actually defer taxation on their capital gains through the opportunity zone rules. Taxpayers who have made a sale where the proceeds qualify for capital gain treatment may invest all or a part of that gain in a qualified opportunity fund and defer recognizing the gain under the new opportunity zone rules. The taxpayer makes the election on his or her tax return by attaching a completed Form 8949 to the return. For multiple investments occurring on different dates, the taxpayer uses multiple rows of the form to report the deferral election. If the taxpayer has already filed the relevant tax return, he or she will need to file an amended return to make the election. For more information on the opportunity zone rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas A&M Law Solicits Bids for ONLINE GRADUATE PROGRAMS Service Providers, deadline August 2

Posted by William Byrnes on July 25, 2019


Status Details
Open
The Texas A&M University School of Law seeks proposals from qualified vendors for the creation of On-Line Graduate Programs per the Request for Proposal herein.
Close 8/2/2019 2:00 PM CDT
Number TAMU-RFP-1418
Contact Clyde Oberg CO@TAMU.EDU

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

How much TCJA Repatriated Dividends? USA Outward and Inward Direct Investment by Country and Industry, 2018

Posted by William Byrnes on July 24, 2019


These statistics cover outward and inward direct investment positions, financial transactions, and income in 2018 and will provide information answering the following questions:
  • How much did U.S. multinationals repatriate following the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
  • Which countries and industries repatriated the most in 2018?
  • Which countries are the largest destinations for U.S. multinational enterprises’ direct investment?
  • Which countries’ multinational enterprises have the largest direct investment positions in the United States?
  • In which industries is foreign direct investment concentrated?
Statistics on foreign direct investment in the United States include data by the country of the immediate foreign parent as well as data by the country of the ultimate beneficial owner. Statistics on U.S. direct investment abroad will include data by the country and industry of the foreign affiliate as well as data by the industry of the U.S. parent.

Effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on U.S. Direct Investment Abroad

The TCJA generally eliminated taxes on dividends, or repatriated earnings, to U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates. Dividends of $776.5 billion in 2018 exceeded earnings for the year, which led to negative reinvestment of earnings, decreasing the investment position for the first time since 1982. Contrast $155.1 billion repatriated dividends in 2017.

By country, nearly half of the dividends in 2018 were repatriated from affiliates in Bermuda ($231.0 billion) and the Netherlands ($138.8 billion). Ireland was the third-largest source of dividends, but its value is suppressed due to confidentiality requirements. By industry, U.S. multinationals in chemical manufacturing ($209.1 billion) and computers and electronic products manufacturing ($195.9 billion) repatriated the most in 2018.

Chart of USDIA: Dividends by Country of Affiliate: 2017-2018

 

The U.S. direct investment abroad position, or cumulative level of investment, decreased $62.3 billion to $5.95 trillion at the end of 2018 from $6.01 trillion at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease was due to the repatriation of accumulated prior earnings by U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates, largely in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The decrease reflected a $75.8 billion decrease in the position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere, primarily in Bermuda. By industry, holding company affiliates owned by U.S. manufacturers accounted for most of the decrease.

The foreign direct investment in the United States position increased $319.1 billion to $4.34 trillion at the end of 2018 from $4.03 trillion at the end of 2017. The increase mainly reflected a $226.1 billion increase in the position from Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Ireland. By industry, affiliates in manufacturing, retail trade, and real estate accounted for the largest increases.

Chart of sDirect Investment Positions, 2017-2018

U.S. direct investment abroad (tables 1 – 6) see tables here: BEA tables

U.S. multinational enterprises (MNEs) invest in nearly every country, but their investment in affiliates in five countries accounted for more than half of the total position at the end of 2018. The U.S. direct investment abroad position remained the largest in the Netherlands at $883.2 billion, followed by the United Kingdom ($757.8 billion), Luxembourg ($713.8 billion), Ireland ($442.2 billion), and Canada ($401.9 billion).

By industry of the directly-owned foreign affiliate, investment was highly concentrated in holding companies, which accounted for nearly half of the overall position in 2018. Most holding company affiliates, which are owned by U.S. parents from a variety of industries, own other foreign affiliates that operate in a variety of industries. By industry of the U.S. parent, investment by manufacturing MNEs accounted for 54.0 percent of the position, followed by MNEs in finance and insurance (12.1 percent).

U.S. MNEs earned income of $531.0 billion in 2018 on their cumulative investment abroad, a 12.8 percent increase from 2017.

Foreign direct investment in the United States (tables 7 – 10) see tables here: BEA tables

By country of the foreign parent, five countries accounted for more than half of the total position at the end of 2018. The United Kingdom remained the top investing country with a position of $560.9 billion. Canada ($511.2 billion) moved up one position from 2017 to be the second-largest investing country, moving Japan ($484.4 billion) into third, while the Netherlands ($479.0 billion) and Luxembourg ($356.0 billion) switched places as the fourth and fifth largest investing countries at the end of 2018.

By country of the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO), the top five countries in terms of position were the United Kingdom ($597.2 billion), Canada ($588.4 billion), Japan ($488.7 billion), Germany ($474.5 billion), and Ireland ($385.3 billion). On this basis, investment from the Netherlands and Luxembourg was much lower than by country of foreign parent, indicating that much of the investment from foreign parents in these countries was ultimately owned by investors in other countries.

Foreign direct investment in the United States was concentrated in the U.S. manufacturing sector, which accounted for 40.8 percent of the position. There was also sizable investment in finance and insurance (12.1 percent).

Foreign MNEs earned income of $208.1 billion in 2018 on their cumulative investment in the United States, a 19.7 percent increase from 2017.

Updates to Direct Investment Statistics Delayed

Updates to BEA’s detailed country and industry statistics for U.S. direct investment abroad and for foreign direct investment in the United States for 2016 and 2017 were delayed due to the impact of the partial federal government shutdown that started in late December 2018. BEA will update the 2016 and 2017 statistics in 2020 along with updates to the 2018 statistics.”

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas A&M University School of Law Recruiting Multiple Outstanding Scholars for Professorships

Posted by William Byrnes on July 22, 2019


TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW aims to hire multiple outstanding scholars, across an array of fields, over the next several years.

Since integrating with Texas A&M six years ago, the School of Law – based in Dallas/Fort Worth – has achieved a remarkable forward trajectory by dramatically increasing entering class credentials; adding nine new clinics; strengthening student services; and hiring twenty-six new faculty members. The Appointments Committee welcomes expressions of interest in all areas, including especially from candidates who will add to the diversity of our faculty. Areas of particular interest include:

cybersecurity, privacy, and health law (with emphasis on healthcare finance, policy, regulation, delivery, and unfair competition).

The Texas A&M System is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer committed to diversity. Texas A&M University is committed to enriching the learning and working environment for all visitors, students, faculty, and staff by promoting a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability. Diverse perspectives, talents, and identities are vital to accomplishing our mission and living our core values. The School of Law provides equal opportunity to all employees, students, applicants for employment or admission, and the public, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent. Preference will be given to those with outstanding scholarly achievement and strong teaching skills. Successful candidates will be expected to engage in scholarship, teaching,  and service. Rank as an Executive Professor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor will be determined based on qualifications and experience.

Applicants should email a cover letter (indicating teaching and research interests) and CV/references to Professor Milan Markovic, Chair of the Appointments Committee, at appointments@law.tamu.edu. The Appointments Committee will treat all applications as confidential, subject to the requirements of state and federal law.

Posted in Education Theory | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Nike State Aid case analysis: Would you pay $100 for a canvas sneaker designed the 20’s? (Where does the residual value for “Just Do it” and the ‘cool kids’ retro branding of All Stars belong?)

Posted by William Byrnes on July 19, 2019


I have received several requests this month about my initial thoughts on the EU Commission’s 56-page published (public version available here) State Aid preliminary decision with the reasoning that The Netherlands government provided Nike an anti-competitive subsidy via the tax system.  My paraphrasing of the following EU Commission statement [para. 87] sums up the situation:

The Netherlands operational companies are remunerated with a low, but stable level of profit based on a limited margin on their total revenues reflecting those companies’ allegedly “routine” distribution functions. The residual profit generated by those companies in excess of that level of profit is then entirely allocated to Nike Bermuda as an alleged arm’s length royalty in return for the license of the Nike brands and other related IP”

The question that comes to my mind is: “Would I pay $100 for a canvas sneaker designed the 20’s that I know is $12 to manufacture, distribute, and have enough markup for the discount shoe store to provide it shelf space?” My answer is: “Yes, I own two pair of Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars.” So why did I spend much more than I know them to be worth (albeit, I wait until heavily discounted and then only on clearance).  From a global value chain perspective: “To which Nike function and unit does the residual value for the ‘cool kids’ retro branding of All Stars belong?”

infograph

U.S. international tax professionals operating in the nineties know that The Netherlands is a royalty conduit intermediary country because of its good tax treaty system and favorable domestic tax system, with the intangible profits deposited to take advantage of the U.S. tax deferral regime that existed until the TCJA of 2017 (via the Bermuda IP company).  Nike U.S., but for the deferral regime, could have done all this directly from its U.S. operations to each country that Nike operates in.  No other country could object, pre-BEPs, because profit split and marketing intangibles were not pushed by governments during transfer pricing audits.

The substantial value of Nike (that from which its profits derive) is neither the routine services provided by The Netherlands nor local wholesalers/distributors.  The value is the intangible brand created via R&D and marketing/promotion.  That brand allows a $10 – $20 retail price sneaker to sell retail for $90 – $200, depending on the country.  Converse All-Stars case in point.  Same  $10 shoe as when I was growing up now sold for $50 – $60 because Converse branded All-Stars as cool kid retro fashion.

Nike has centralized, for purposes of U.S. tax deferral leveraging a good tax treaty network, the revenue flows through NL.  The royalty agreement looks non-traditional because instead of a fixed price (e.g. 8%), it sweeps the NL profit account of everything but for the routine rate of return for the grouping of operational services mentioned in the State Aid opinion. If Nike was an actual Dutch public company, or German (like Addidas), or French – then Nike would have a similar result from its home country base because of the way its tax system allows exemption from tax for the operational foreign-sourced income of branches.  [Having worked back in the mid-nineties on similar type companies that were European, this is what I recall but I will need to research to determine if this has been the case since the nineties.]

I suspect that when I research this issue above that the NL operations will have been compensated within an allowable range based on all other similar situated 3rd parties.  I could examine this service by service but that would require much more information and data analysis about the services, and lead to a lesser required margin by Nike. The NL functions include [para 33]: “…regional headquarter functions, such as marketing, management, sales management (ordering and warehousing), establishing product pricing and discount policies, adapting designs to local market needs, and distribution activities, as well as bearing the inventory risk, marketing risk and other business risks.”

By example, the EU Commission states in its initial Nike news announcement:

Nike European Operations Netherlands BV and Converse Netherlands BV have more than 1,000 employees and are involved in the development, management and exploitation of the intellectual property. For example, Nike European Operations Netherlands BV actively advertises and promotes Nike products in the EMEA region, and bears its own costs for the associated marketing and sales activities.

Nike’s internal Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion (AMP) services can be benchmarked to its 3rd party AMP providers.  But by no means do the local NL AMP services rise to the level of Nike’s chief AMP partner (and arguably a central key to its brand build) Wieden + Kennedy (renown for creating many industry branding campaigns but perhaps most famously for Nike’s “Just Do it” – inspired by the last words of death row inmate Gary Gilmore before his execution by firing squad).

There is some value that should be allocated for the headquarters management of the combination of services on top of the service by service approach.  Plenty of competing retail industry distributors to examine though.  If by example the profit margin range was a low of 2% to a high of 8% for the margin return for the combination of services, then Nike based on the EU Commission’s public information falls within that range, being around 5%.

The Commission contends that Nike designed its transfer pricing study to achieve a result to justify the residual sweep to its Bermuda deferral subsidiary.  The EU Commission states an interesting piece of evidence that may support its decision [at para 89]: “To the contrary, those documents indicate that comparable uncontrolled transactions may have existed as a result of which the arm’s length level of the royalty payment would have been lower…”.  If it is correct that 3rd party royalty agreements for major brand overly compensate local distributors, by example provide 15% or 20% profit margin for local operations, then Nike must also.  [I just made these numbers up to illustrate the issue]

All the services seem, on the face of the EU Commission’s public document, routine to me but for “adapting designs to local market needs”.  That, I think, goes directly to product design which falls under the R&D and Branding.  There are 3rd parties that do exactly this service so it can be benchmarked, but its value I suspect is higher than by example ‘inventory risk management’.  We do not know from the EU document whether this ‘adapting product designs to local market’ service was consistent with a team of product engineers and market specialists, or was it merely occasional and outsourced.  The EU Commission wants, like with Starbucks, Nike to use a profit split method.  “…a transfer pricing arrangement based on the Profit Split Method would have been more appropriate to price…”.  Finally, the EU Commission asserts [para. 90]: “…even if the TNMM was the most appropriate transfer pricing method…. Had a profit level indicator been chosen that properly reflected the functional analysis of NEON and CN BV, that would have led to a lower royalty payment…”.

But for the potential product design issue, recognizing I have not yet researched this issue yet, based on what I know about the fashion industry, seems rather implausible to me that a major brand would give up part of its brand residual to a 3rd party local distributor.  In essence, that would be like the parent company of a well-established fashion brand stating “Let me split the brand’s value with you for local distribution, even though you have not borne any inputs of creating the value”.  Perhaps at the onset of a startup trying to create and build a brand?  But not Nike in the 1990s.  I think that the words of the dissenting Judge in Altera (9th Cir June 2019) are appropriate:

An ‘arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations’.

The EU Commission obviously does not like the Bermuda IP holding subsidiary arrangement that the U.S. tax deferral regime allows (the same issue of its Starbucks state aid attack), but that does not take away from the reality that legally and economically, Bermuda for purposes of the NL companies owns the Nike brand and its associated IP.  The new U.S. GILTI regime combined with the FDII export incentive regime addresses the Bermuda structure, making it much somewhat less comparably attractive to operating directly from the U.S. (albeit still produces some tax arbitrage benefit).  Perhaps the U.S. tax regime if it survives, in combination with the need for the protection of the IRS Competent Authority for foreign transfer pricing adjustments will lead to fewer Bermuda IP holding subsidiaries and more Delaware ones.

My inevitable problem with the Starbucks and Nike (U.S. IP deferral structures) state aid cases is that looking backward, even if the EU Commission is correct, it is a de minimis amount (the EU Commission already alleged a de minimis amount for Starbucks but the actual amount will be even less if any amount at all).  Post-BEPS, the concept and understanding of marketing intangibles including brands is changing, as well as allowable corporate fiscal operational structures based on look-through (GILTI type) regimes. More effective in the long term for these type of U.S. IP deferral structures is for the EU Commission is to spend its compliance resources on a go-forward basis from 2015 BEPS to assist the restructuring of corporations and renegotiation of APAs, BAPAs, Multilateral PAs to fit in the new BEPS reality.  These two cases seem more about an EU – U.S. tax policy dispute than the actual underlying facts of the cases.  And if as I suspect that EU companies pre-BEPS had the same outcome based on domestic tax policy foreign source income exemptions, then the EU Commission’s tax policy dispute would appear two-faced.

I’ll need to undertake a research project or hear back from readers and then I will follow up with Nike Part 2 as a did with Starbucks on this Kluwer blog previously.  See Application of TNMM to Starbucks Roasting Operation: Seeking Comparables Through Understanding the Market and then My Starbucks’ State Aid Transfer Pricing Analysis: Part II.  See also my comments about Altera:  An ‘arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations’.

Want to help me in this research or have great analytical content for my transfer pricing treatise published by LexisNexis? Reach out on profbyrnes@gmail.com

Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M) is the author of a 3,000 page treatise on transfer pricing that is a leading analytical resource for advisors.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 18, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 19, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 18, 2019

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Words of Caution for Non-spouse Beneficiaries of Inherited IRAs

Generally, non-spouse beneficiaries are required to take distributions from the account either under the five-year rule (i.e., exhaust the funds within five years of inheriting them) or based on that beneficiary’s life expectancy. However, what many beneficiaries fail to understand is that when they take a distribution, that distribution will be taxable, cannot be undone by rolling the amount into another IRA and can cause the IRA to forfeit its stretch treatment. Non-spouse beneficiaries should be advised that their only opportunity with respect to rollover of an inherited IRA is to transfer the account (as an inherited account) to a new IRA custodian via a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer. For more information on inherited IRAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

District Court Finds Retiree Not Entitled to Change Election Regarding Pension Distribution Form

A district court recently ruled that a pension plan did not abuse its discretion by denying the request of a participant in pay status to change her election from a monthly annuity payout to a lump sum payment. In this case, the pension had opened a window whereby retirees could elect to switch from receiving an annuity to the lump sum option. The option also allowed the participant to revoke the change by a certain set date, and revert back to the annuity. Here, the retiree and her son, who had power of attorney, took the lump sum option but later revoked it to revert back to the annuity. Later, when the retiree was diagnosed with a neurological disease, they attempted to revoke the revocation to receive the lump sum. The court held that there was no abuse of discretion in the pension’s denial of that request because the window for electing the lump sum had closed. The impact of the neurological disease was irrelevant because the son who made the initial requests had power of attorney to speak on the participant’s behalf. For more information on what to consider when facing a lump sum option, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Updated IRS FAQ Confirms Section 1231 Gains Invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds in 2018 are Qualifying Investments

The second round of proposed regulations regarding qualified opportunity zone fund (QOF) investments generated questions as to the treatment of Section 1231 gains that had been invested in a QOF. Section 1231 capital gain treatment generally applies to depreciable property and real property used in a business (but not land held as investment property). Under the proposed regulations, Section 1231 capital gains are only permissible QOF investments to the extent of the 1231 capital gain amount, if the investment is made within 180 days of the last day of the tax year. IRS released FAQ to provide relief for the 2018 tax year, so that investment in the QOF and deferral will be available for the gross amount of Section 1231 gain realized during the 2018 tax year if the investment was made within 180 days of the sale date, rather than the last day of the tax year (assuming that the taxpayer’s tax year ended before May 1, 2019, when the regulations were released). For more information on opportunity zones, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Getting its “fair share” from the U.S., U.K. implements 2% tax on gross revenues of Google, Amazon, and Facebook

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


From April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. Large multi-national enterprises with revenue derived from the provision of a social media platform, a search engine or an online marketplace (‘in scope activities’) to UK users.

The Digital Services Tax will apply to businesses that provide a social media platform, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500m and more than £25m of these revenues are derived from UK users.

If the group’s revenues exceed these thresholds, its revenues derived from UK users will be taxed at a rate of 2%. There is an allowance of £25m, which means a group’s first £25m of revenues derived from UK users will not be subject to Digital Services Tax.

The provision of a social media platform, internet search engine or online marketplace by a group includes the carrying on of any associated online advertising business. An associated online advertising business is a business operated on an online platform that facilitates the placing of online advertising, and derives significant benefit from its connection with the social media platform, search engine or online marketplace. There is an exemption from the online marketplace definition for financial and payment services providers.

The revenues from the business activity will include any revenue earned by the group which is connected to the business activity, irrespective of how the business monetises the platform. If revenues are attributable to the business activity and another activity, the business will need to apportion the revenue to each activity on a just and reasonable basis.

Revenues are derived from UK users if the revenue arises by virtue of a UK user using the platform. However, advertising revenues are derived from UK users when the advertisement is intended to be viewed by a UK user.

A UK user is a user that is normally located in the UK.

Where one of the parties to a transaction on an online marketplace is a UK user, all the revenues from that transaction will be treated as derived from UK users. This will also be the case when the transaction involves land or buildings in the UK. However, the revenue charged will be reduced to 50% of the revenues from the transaction when the other user in respect of the transaction is normally located in a country that operates a similar tax to the Digital Services Tax.

Businesses will be able to elect to calculate the Digital Services Tax under an alternative calculation under the ‘safe harbour’. This is intended to ensure that the tax does not have a disproportionate effect on business sustainability in cases where a business has a low operating margin from providing in-scope activities to UK users

The total Digital Services Tax liability will be calculated at the group level but the tax will be charged on the individual entities in the group that realise the revenues that contribute to this total. The group consists of all entities which are included in the group consolidated accounts, provided these are prepared under an acceptable accounting standard. Revenues will consequently be counted towards the thresholds even if they are recognised in entities which do not have a UK taxable presence for corporation tax purposes.

A single entity in the group will be responsible for reporting the Digital Services Tax to HMRC. Groups can nominate an entity to fulfil these responsibilities. Otherwise, the ultimate parent of the group will be responsible.

The Digital Services Tax will be payable and reportable on an annual basis.

Draft legislation

Explanatory notes

Read:

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 11

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Prof. William H. Byrnes, Esq. and Robert Bloink, Esq. of

Texas A&M University Law Wealth Management programs

Jul 11, 2019

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IRS Snapshot Guidance Provides Insight into Post-2018 Plan Hardship Distribution Requirements

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made substantial changes to the rules governing hardship distributions from qualified plans beginning in 2019. These changes have left many employers wondering how to adequately comply with the new rules. The IRS has directed its agents to review the language in the plan document, as well as any written statement provided by the participant to ensure all documents are properly executed and signed. Further, agents are directed to examine any records that the employer used to verify that a true hardship did exist, as well as the amount of that hardship. These records can include bills, eviction notices, closing documents for purchase of a home, etc. The employee should also provide documentation to establish that no other readily available source of funds existed, which can be as simple as an employee attestation. For more information on post-2018 hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Clarifies Treatment of Transportation Benefits Upon Termination of Employment

An IRS information letter has clarified that a taxpayer forfeits any unused transportation benefits upon termination of employment. Because employers have only been permitted to provide tax-preferred transportation benefits to current employees, those benefits must be lost once the individual is no longer an employee. This is the case even if the benefits were provided through pre-tax employee contributions, and even if the employee is fired (i.e., compensation reductions cannot be reimbursed if the employee had not fully used them). Importantly, employees can change their elections regarding transportation benefits monthly without the need for a change in status event. For more information on employer-provided transportation benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Ninth Circuit Affirms Termination of Pension Benefits for Working Retiree

The Ninth Circuit recently confirmed that a pension plan was within its rights to terminate pension benefits to a participant who retired early, but then returned to work in the same industry. This was the case even though the plan itself had initially approved the taxpayer’s post-retirement work in the same industry in which he worked prior to retirement. Although Supreme Court precedent prohibits a pension from adding additional requirements to a participant’s benefit eligibility after that participant has retired, the court here found that the precedent did not apply because the plan in question had always required participants to withdraw from the industry in order to be eligible for benefits. The plan had begun enforcing the rule pursuant to a voluntary corrective action with the IRS that was entered in order to maintain the plan’s tax-qualified status. For more information on situations where a pension plan may reduce a participant’s benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Texas A&M Hiring Senior Associate Vice President positions

Posted by William Byrnes on July 10, 2019


The Division of Research at Texas A&M University is seeking applications for one or more positions at the Senior Associate Vice President (AVP) level.

The retirement of the Executive Associate Vice President for Research (EAVP) provides an opportunity to realign and expand the portfolios overseen by the EAVP and the two current Senior AVPs.  Senior AVPs report directly to the Vice President for Research and each has a portfolio of administrative, compliance, and research advancement responsibilities. Responsibilities to be covered by the appointment of new Senior AVP(s) include:

  • Oversight of the Comparative Medicine Program (CMP), as well as supervision of the Attending Veterinarian. The CMP is the centrally administered support service for research and teaching programs at Texas A&M and provides high quality animal care consistent with the standards established by the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and all pertinent local, state, and federal laws. The Attending Veterinarian is responsible for the health and well-being of all animals used for research, teaching, and testing at Texas A&M.
  • Leadership of The Texas A&M University System’s expanding emphasis on interdisciplinary life sciences, health, biomedical activities, and multidisciplinary research initiatives for the Division.
  • Oversight of the membership of compliance committees (IACUC, IRB, IBC).
  • Oversight of facilities-related issues for the Division; and developing campus-wide policies for research space.
  • Oversight of the development and recognition of University researchers at all levels.
  • Development of external partnerships.
  • Serving as the University’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO).

Ideal candidates will communicate effectively and work well with all segments of the University and its external constituencies. In addition, these positions require a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Experience implementing and designing processes and projects is ideal. Familiarity with faculty-associated rules, guidelines, and administrative procedures is preferred.

Applications should include a cover letter with a clear statement of why the applicant believes they are qualified for the position, a description of key relevant experience, a vision statement for the position and its role in the Division of Research, a vita, and names and contact information of three references. For full consideration, applications should be received no later than July 22, 2019. These positions will remain open until filled. Applications should be submitted through email to Dr. Mark Barteau.

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Counter-Terrorism Financing’s International Best Practices and the Law – new book by Dr. Nathalie Rébé

Posted by William Byrnes on July 9, 2019


Counter-Terrorism Financing

International Best Practices and the Law

Series:

In Counter-Terrorism Financing: International Best Practices and the Law, Nathalie Rébé, offers a new comprehensive framework for CTF worldwide and reviews the strengths and weaknesses of current regulations and policies.

Both accessible, interesting and engaging in how it approaches chronic problems of Counter-Terrorism Financing, this book provides general understanding of this topic with a literature review and a gap-analysis based on CTF experts’ advices, as well as a very detailed analysis of current international regulatory tools.

Nathalie Rébé’s ‘all-in’one’ CTF manual is innovative in this field and provides answers for the international community to fight terrorism financing together more effectively, using a set of standards which promotes strong and diligent cooperation between countries concerning reporting, information exchange and gathering, as well as enforcement.

order here: https://brill.com/abstract/title/55779?rskey=Qa3MQv&result=1

For the Americas call (toll free) 1 (844) 232 3707 | or email us at: brillna@turpin-distribution.com
For outside the Americas call +44 (0) 1767 604-954 | or email us at: brill@turpin-distribution.com

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