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Georgetown Law Library

International and Foreign Tax Law Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for research on international and foreign tax law research.

Model Bilateral Tax Treaties

Table of Contents

Brief Introduction

Model tax treaties serve as the starting point for negotiations between two countries.  Although model treaties are not legally binding, their language often is incorporated verbatim (or with only minor alterations) in the text of bilateral treaties.  Therefore, commentaries and technical explanations that aid in the interpretation of a model treaty also may shed light on the meaning of a treaty based on the model.

The United States promulgates model treaties on income tax, estate and gift tax, and the exchange of tax information.  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) and the United Nations also promulgate widely used model tax treaties.

The U.S., the U.N., the OECD, and other issuers of model tax treaties periodically publish updated and revised versions. Researchers should bear in mind that they may need to consult a superseded version of a model tax treaty rather than the current version.
  

Frequently Consulted Model Tax Treaties

  • OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital (condensed version)
    • Current and Prior Versions
    • Note: The OECD also has promulgated model convention on the exchange of information in tax matters, estate taxation, and on other tax-related subjects. Consult the tax research platforms described below to locate the texts of other OECD model treaties.
       
  • United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention Between Developed and Developing Countries (also known as the United Nations Model Income & Capital Tax Convention)
  • United States Model Income Tax Convention
    • 2016 Model Convention Text
    • 2016 Model Convention Preamble (highlights significant features and technical improvements)
    • 2016 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • 2006 Model Convention Text
    • 2006 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • 1996 Model Convention Text
    • 1996 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • Note: The United States also has promulgated model conventions on estate and gift taxation and on the exchange of tax information. Consult the tax research platforms described below to locate the texts of other U.S. model treaties.
       

Model Treaties on Tax Research Platforms 

‚ÄčCoverage of model tax treaties varies considerably from platform to platform, particularly for superseded model treaties.  You may need to consult more than one platform to find the version of the model treaty that you are seeking.

  • Bloomberg Law
    • Content:  Current and superseded model tax treaties issued by the U.S. and the OECD; current model treaties issued by the U.N., the Andean Community, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and Russia (in English translation for non-English speaking jurisdictions); model agreements between the U.S. and other countries for the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
    • Access:  Hyperlink above provides direct access to content.
       
  • CCH (Wolters Kluwer) International Tax Library 
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., the U.N., and the OECD.
    • Access:  Click on the link to the U.S. Tax Treaties Reporter under the Tax Treaties heading.  After the page refreshes,  select Model Treaties, Other Agreements.  Then select Model Treaties.
       
  • Checkpoint 
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S. and the U.N.  
    • Access:  Select International Tax as the practice area on the left side of the homepage.  Then click on the + sign next to Tax Treaties under the heading Primary Source Materials.  The click on U.S. Tax Treaties (WG&L).  Scroll down the alphabetical list and click on United Nations or United States to access their respective model treaties.
       
  • IBFD Tax Research Platform 
    • Content:  Current and some superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, and Russia, and by the U.N., the OECD, the Andean Community, ASEAN, and ILADT.  
    • Access:  Select Models as the collection.  Model treaties are arranged alphabetically by the name of the organization or country that issued them.  Use the filters on the left to narrow.
       
  • TaxNotes.com 
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., the U.N., and the OECD.
    • Access:  From the Research Tools tab in the upper right-hand side of the homepage, click on Worldwide Tax Treaties.  On the left side of the following page, click on Model Conventions under the heading Models & Documents.  Use the pull-down menu to select the source of the model.
       
  • Worldwide Tax Treaties Model Conventions  The content of this Lexis database is almost identical to the tax treaty database available on TaxNotes.com, but it also includes a handful model treaties issued by jurisdictions other than the U.S., the U.N., and the OECD.  Coverage is from 1923 - present.