Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cloud Computing: U.S. Tax Compliance Complexity

In today’s technology-driven economy, many multinational enterprises are beginning to take advantage of cloud-computing technology in their global infrastructure and market facing-activities. What is cloud computing? Various definitions of clouding computing exist, perhaps the most concise is the one provided by the research firm Gartner, Inc., which calls it “a style of computing where massively scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ using Internet technologies to multiple external customers.”

Despite its rapid acceptance by the business community, little guidance has been issued on how U.S. federal income tax principles may be applied to businesses operating “in the cloud.” In addition to creating difficulties in evaluating potential tax issues, the lack of guidance may impede a corporate taxpayer’s ability to determine its appropriate U.S. federal income tax return positions and reporting obligations. This challenge may be even more difficult for U.S. multinationals with foreign subsidiaries that enter into cloud computing transactions cross-border.

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