The UN Model and Agents: ‘Wholly or Almost Wholly’

9 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2011

See all articles by Richard J. Vann

Richard J. Vann

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 29, 2011


This paper traces the history of an important variation between the OECD and UN Model tax treaties, the UN exclusion from the independent agent exception to the permanent establishment rule of a person who acts wholly or almost wholly as agent for one principal. It is concluded that the UN Model is probably better off without the exclusion because it can be easily avoided by a company acting as agent for a number of related companies, rather than as agent for one company in a corporate group, though the UN Model is not much harmed by it. Whether the exception is retained or not, UN attention should be redirected to Commentary which makes clear that it will be very difficult for an agent to establish independence if it acts mainly (which may fall short of “almost wholly”) for related companies.

Keywords: Agents, Double Taxation, International Taxation, History, Tax Treaties, Permanent Establishment, OECD, UN

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33, K34

Suggested Citation

Vann, Richard J., The UN Model and Agents: ‘Wholly or Almost Wholly’ (September 29, 2011). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/62, Available at SSRN:

Richard J. Vann (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

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