Category: Burden of Proof

The legal issue of whether the burden of proof for arm’s length pricing of controlled transactions rests with the tax authorities or the taxpayer.

In most jurisdictions, the tax administration bears the burden of proof both in its own internal dealings with the taxpayer (e.g. assessment and appeals) and in litigation. In some of these countries, the burden of proof can be reversed, allowing the tax administration to estimate taxable income, if the taxpayer is found not to have acted in good faith, for example, by not cooperating or complying with reasonable documentation requests or by filing false or misleading returns. In other countries, the burden of proof rests on the taxpayer.

Italy vs "Fruit old s.a.s", March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No R.G.N. 8952/2013, 2021-25

Italy vs “Fruit old s.a.s”, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No R.G.N. 8952/2013, 2021-25

Fruit old s.a.s was active in wholesale of fruit and vegetables. In 2003 it purchased products at a price higher than the market price from another company owned by the same partners, Fruit new s.r.l., and resold them at a price lower than the purchase price. Both companies were domiciled in Italy. Following these transactions the entire business of Fruit old s.a.s (premises, employees and customers) was transferred to Fruit new s.r.l. The tax authorities issued an assessment where the price of the transactions had been adjusted, since it was in the taxpayer’s interest to transfer income from the Fruit old s.a.s to Fruit new s.r.l. The company argued that the transactions in question only took place over a short period of three months. It also stated that the pricing of the transactions were motivated by an “intra-group strategy”. Lower courts had ruled in favour ... Continue to full case
France vs. SMAP, March 2021, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No. 19VE01161

France vs. SMAP, March 2021, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No. 19VE01161

The French company SMAP carries out activities in the area of advertising management and organisation of trade fairs. Following an audit of the company for FY 2008 to 2011 and assessment was issued where deduction of costs for certain intra group “services” had been denied, resulting in additional value added tax, corporate income tax surcharges, apprenticeship tax and business value added tax. The company held that the tax administration had disregarded fiscal procedures, and that the reality of the services – and deductibility of the costs – cannot be disregarded on mere presumptions. Decision of the Court The Appeal of SARL SMAP was rejected by the Court. “Firstly, the administration notes that by virtue of a Lebanese legislative decree n° 46 of 24th June 1983, companies governed by Lebanese law … carrying out their essential activities outside the national territory are considered as offshore companies ... Continue to full case
France vs Bluestar Silicones France, Feb 2021, Supreme Administrative Court (CAA), Case No 16VE00352

France vs Bluestar Silicones France, Feb 2021, Supreme Administrative Court (CAA), Case No 16VE00352

Bluestar Silicones France (BSF), now Elkem Silicones France SAS (ESF), produces silicones and various products that it sells to other companies belonging to the Bluestar Silicones International group. The company was audited for the financial years 2007 – 2008 and an assessment was issued. According to the tax authorities, the selling prices of the silicone products had been below the arm’s length price and the company had refrained from invoicing of management exepences and cost of secondment of employees . In the course of the proceedings agreement had been reached on the pricing of products. Hence, in dispute before the court was the issue of lacking invoicing of management exepences and cost of secondment of employees for the benefit of the Chinese and Brazilian subsidiaries of the Group. According to the company there had been no hidden transfer of profits; its method of constructing the ... Continue to full case
Spain vs BIOMERIEUX ESPAÑA SA, February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:416

Spain vs BIOMERIEUX ESPAÑA SA, February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:416

BIOMERIEUX ESPAÑA SA is active in the business of clinical and biological analysis, production, distribution, training and technical assistance. Likewise, the provision of computer services and, in particular, the computer management of laboratories. Following an audit the tax authorities found that the controlled prices agreed for the acquisition of instruments and consumables between bioMérieux España and its related entities, bioMérieux SA and bioMérieux Inc, did not provided bioMérieux España with an arm’s length return on is controlled activities. A tax assessment was issued for FY 2008 on the basis af a thorough critical analysis of the benchmark study provided by the BIOMERIEUX, and detailed reasoning and analysis in regards to comparability and market developments. Judgement of the National Court The Audiencia Nacional dismissed the appeal of Biomerieux España SA and decided in favour of the tax authorities. Excerpts “As we already reasoned in our SAN ... Continue to full case
Italy vs "Plastic Pipes s.p.a.", January 2021, Supreme Court, Case 230-2021

Italy vs “Plastic Pipes s.p.a.”, January 2021, Supreme Court, Case 230-2021

Plastic Pipes s.p.a. produces and sells flexible plastic pipes, via foreign subsidiaries, to which it supplies the product to be resold to foreign customers and it operates abroad, selling the product directly to customers, also in foreign countries where it has a subsidiary. The tax authorities had issued a notice of assessment for FY 2006 claiming that Plastic Pipes s.p.a. had incurred (and deducted) marketing costs in the interest of its subsidiaries, without recharging their share of the expenses. The Court of first instance set aside the assessment of the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court. The supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities. Excerps “…the burden of proof on the tax authorities is limited to providing evidence of the existence of the intra-group transaction and of the agreement of a consideration lower than the normal market value; the taxpayer who intends ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, November 2020, Full Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 187

Australia vs Glencore, November 2020, Full Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 187

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax administration found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. ‘The amended assessments included in the taxpayer’s assessable income additional amounts of $49,156,382 (2007), $83,228,784 (2008) and $108,675,756 (2009) referable to the consideration which the Commissioner considered would constitute an arm’s length payment for the copper concentrate sold to Glencore International AG in each of the relevant years. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. “Accordingly I find that the taxpayer has established that the prices that CMPL was paid by GIAG for the ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. ECCO A/S , October 2020, High Court, Case No SKM2020.397.VLR

Denmark vs. ECCO A/S , October 2020, High Court, Case No SKM2020.397.VLR

ECCO A/S is the parent company of a multinational group, whose main activity is the design, development, production and sale of shoes. The group was founded in 1963, and has since gone from being a small Danish shoe manufacturer to being a global player with about 20,000 employees and with sales and production subsidiaries in a large number of countries. ECCO purchased goods from both internal and external producers, and at issue was whether transactions with it’s foreign subsidiaries had been conducted at arm’s length terms. ECCO had prepared two sets of two transfer pricing documentation, both of which were available when the tax authorities issued its assessment. The transfer pricing documentation contained a review of the parent company’s pricing and terms in relation to both internal and external production companies, and a comparability analyzes. The High Court issued a decision in favor of the ... Continue to full case
Chile vs Wallmart Chile S.A, October 2020, Tax Court, Case N° RUC N° 76.042.014K

Chile vs Wallmart Chile S.A, October 2020, Tax Court, Case N° RUC N° 76.042.014K

In 2009, Walmart acquired a majority in Distribución y Servicio D&S S.A., Chile’s leading food retailer. With headquarters in Santiago, Walmart Chile operates several formats including hypermarkets, supermarkets and discount stores. Following an audit by the tax authorities related to FY 2015, deduction of interest payments in the amount of CH$8.958,304,857.- on an “intra-group loan” was denied resulting in a tax payable of Ch$1,786,488,290. According to Wallmart, the interest payments related to debt in the form of future dividend payments/profit distributions. Decision of the Tax court “…this Court concludes that the claimant has not been able to prove the existence of a current account between Inversiones Walmart and Walmart Chile, nor has it been able to prove the appropriateness of the reduction in expenses in the amount of CH$8.958,304,857.- for interest paid to its related company, because it did not justify the need for such ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2020.303.HR

Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2020.303.HR

The question in this case was whether royalty payments from a loss making Danish subsidiary Adecco A/S (H1 A/S in the decision) to its Swiss parent company Adecco SA (G1 SA in the decision – an international provider of temporary and permanent employment services active throughout the entire range of sectors in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia – for use of trademarks and trade names, knowhow, international network intangibles, and business concept were deductible expenses for tax purposes or not. In  2013, the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) had amended Adecco A/S’s taxable income for the years 2006-2009 by a total of DKK 82 million. Adecco A/S submitted that the company’s royalty payments were operating expenses deductible under section 6 (a) of the State Tax Act and that it was entitled to tax deductions for royalty payments of 1.5% of the company’s turnover ... Continue to full case
France vs SAS Groupe Lagasse Europe, January 2020, CCA de VERSAILLES, Case No. 18VE00059 18VE02329

France vs SAS Groupe Lagasse Europe, January 2020, CCA de VERSAILLES, Case No. 18VE00059 18VE02329

A French subsidiary, SAS Groupe Lagasse Europe, of the Canadian Legasse Group had paid service fees to another Canadian group company, Gestion Portland Vimy. The French tax authorities held that the basis for the payments of service fees had not been established, and that there was no benefit to the French subsidiary. The payments constituted an indirect transfer of profits within the meaning of the ‘article 57 of the general tax code; Excerps from the judgement of the Court: “11. Under the terms of article 57 of the general tax code, applicable in matters of corporate tax under article 209 of the same code: “For the establishment of income tax due by the companies which are dependent or have control of companies located outside of France, the profits indirectly transferred to the latter, either by increasing or decreasing the purchase or sale prices, or by ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax administration found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. ‘The amended assessments included in the taxpayer’s assessable income additional amounts of $49,156,382 (2007), $83,228,784 (2008) and $108,675,756 (2009) referrable to the consideration which the Commissioner considered would constitute an arm’s length payment for the copper concentrate sold to Glencore International AG in each of the relevant years. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. “Accordingly I find that the taxpayer has established that the prices that CMPL was paid by GIAG for the ... Continue to full case
Israel vs Broadcom, Aug 2019, Israeli Supreme Court, Case No 2454/19

Israel vs Broadcom, Aug 2019, Israeli Supreme Court, Case No 2454/19

In 2012 Broadcom Corporation acquired all the shares of Broadlight Inc, another US corporation which owned a subsidiary in Israel, for around $200 million. Three months later, the subsidiary in Israel sold its IP to a group company for $59.5m and then an agreement was entered according to which the subsidiary going forward would supply R&D, marketing and support services to the other group companies for a cost plus fee. Based on these facts the Israeli tax authorities issued an assessment equivalent to $168.5m. The tax authorities found that the full value of the company in Israel had been transferred. The tax assessment was brought to court where Broadcom claimed that the tax authorities had re-characterised the transaction and that the onus of proof was on the tax authorities to justify the value of $168.5m. The District Court held that all the values in the ... Continue to full case
Tanzania vs Alliance One Tobacco T. Ltd, August 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No.118 of 2018, TZCA 208

Tanzania vs Alliance One Tobacco T. Ltd, August 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No.118 of 2018, TZCA 208

In 2005 the tax authorities conducted an audit of Alliance One Tobacco T. Ltd and on that basis issued a notices of assessment for FY 2003 and 2004. In 2011 the tax authorities conducted another audit for the years of income 2009 and 2010 and issued an additional assessment. In the assessments, the tax authorities disallowed several corporate tax items relating to capital expenditure, inventory costs, loss of input stock and bad debt written off. Moreover, a significant transfer pricing adjustment was made on the price from Alliance One Tobacco to its sister company Alliance One International AGA. Judgement of the Court of Appeal The court ruled in favour of the tax authorities. “...in view of the reasons we have stated above with respect to the sole ground of appeal, we have to conclude that this appeal is bound to fail.” The court observed that: “In ... Continue to full case
Sweden vs Absolut Company AB, June 2019, Supreme Administrative Court, Case no 1913-18

Sweden vs Absolut Company AB, June 2019, Supreme Administrative Court, Case no 1913-18

The Absolut Company AB had been issued an assessment of additional taxable income of SEK 247 mio. The assessment was based on the position that (1) The Absolut Company AB had been selling below the arm’s length price to an US group company – The Absolut Spirit Company Inc. (ASCI), and (2) that acquired distribution services from ASCI that had been priced above the arm’s length price. In 2018 the Swedish Administrative Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the tax administration. The Swedish Supreme Administrative Court has now ruled in favor of The Absolute Company AB. According to the Supreme Administrative Court the Swedish Tax Agency did not fulfill the burden of proof. The Supreme Administrative Court further states that the full range of results in the benchmark study could be applied and that a multiple year analysis of the tested party data can be used ... Continue to full case
France vs SAP Laps SAS, February 2019, Administrative Tribunal of Montreuil, Case No. 1801945

France vs SAP Laps SAS, February 2019, Administrative Tribunal of Montreuil, Case No. 1801945

SAP Labs France SAS provided IT-related services to its German parent company, SAP AG, and received a cost-plus 6 % remuneration. According to the R&D agreement all income taxes, including withholding tax, applied on the amount paid by the parent company pursuant to the agreement would be paid for by the French company. However, the French tax administration held that the French company should have included the CVAE tax in the cost base on which it was remunerated, and by not doing so SAP Laps France had indirectly transferred profit to SAP AG. A tax reassessments under the French arm’s length provisions was then issued. SAP disagreed with the assessment and brought the case before the Administrative Tribunal. The Administrative Tribunal issued a decision in favor of the tax administration. “6. The contribution on the added value of companies is a burden on the company ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.136.HR

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.136.HR

The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft Denmark had not been properly remunerated for performing marketing activities due to the fact that OEM sales to Danish customers via MNE OEM’s had not been included in the calculation of local commissions. According to the Market Development Agreement (MDA agreement) concluded between Microsoft Denmark and MIOL with effect from 1 July 2003, Microsoft Denmark received the largest amount of either a commission based on sales invoiced in Denmark or a markup on it’s costs. Microsoft Denmark’s commission did not take into account the sale of Microsoft products that occurred through the sale of computers by multinational computer manufacturers with pre-installed Microsoft software to end users in Denmark – (OEM sales). In court, Microsoft required a dismissal. In a narrow 3:2 decision the Danish Supreme Court found in favor of Microsoft. “…Microsoft Denmark’s marketing may ... Continue to full case
France vs GE Medical Systems, November 2018, Supreme Court - Conseil d’État n° 410779

France vs GE Medical Systems, November 2018, Supreme Court – Conseil d’État n° 410779

Following an audit of GE Medical Systems Limited Partnership (SCS), which is engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of medical equipment and software, the French tax authorities issued an assessment related to the “value added amount” produced by the company, which serves as the basis for calculating the French minimum contribution of business tax provided for in Article 1647 E of the General Tax Code. The tax authorities was of the view that (1) prices charged for goods and services provided to foreign-affiliated companies had been lower than arm’s length prices and that (2) part of deducted factoring costs were not deductible in the basis for calculating the minimum business tax. On that basis a discretionary assessment of additional minimum business tax was issued. GE Medical Systems appealed the assessment to the Administrative Court of  Appeal. The Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that ... Continue to full case
Taiwan vs Intracom, November 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 691 of 107

Taiwan vs Intracom, November 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 691 of 107

Intracom Taiwan had deducted losses on intra-group receivables and management fees in its taxable income. These deductions had been partially denied by the Taiwanese tax administration due to lack of documentation and economic substance. Intracom brought the case to court. The Supreme Administrative court dismissed Intracom’s appeal and upheld the assessment. On the issue of deduction for bad debt the court states: “The Appellee’s request for such documents was in accordance with the law. However, the Appellant was unable to produce documents that met the statutory requirements, and from this point of view, the Appellee’s refusal to allow the recognition of the doubtful accounts could not be considered an error. (3) The appellant’s argument that the tax authorities should accept the recognition of doubtful debts as long as the appellant obtains the documentary evidence of the “foreign office certification” which proves the objective fact that ... Continue to full case
South Africa vs Crookes Brothers LTD, May 2018, High Court, Case no 14179/2017

South Africa vs Crookes Brothers LTD, May 2018, High Court, Case no 14179/2017

Agricultural group Crookes Brothers Ltd issued loans to its Mozambican subsidiary and in accordance with the terms of the loan, the group made transfer pricing adjustments to its taxable income. Later on, Crookes Brothers Ltd requested the tax administration to issue a reduced assessments, claiming that the adjustments were made in error. They argued, that the terms of the loan were aligned with the requirements of section 31(7) of the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962 (the Act), which would exempt the loan from application of transfer pricing rules. To support the claim, Crookes Brothers Ltd provided the tax administration with the loan agreements. The tax administrations  concluded that the terms of the loan agreements were not aligned with the requirements of section 31(7) of the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962 (the Act). The loan agreement had a clause that accelerated the debt in ... Continue to full case
Israel vs Kontera and Finisar, April 2018, Supreme Court, Case No. 943/16

Israel vs Kontera and Finisar, April 2018, Supreme Court, Case No. 943/16

In these two cases from Israel the Supreme Court rules on the issue of whether or not companies using the cost plus method must include stock-based compensation in the cost base. The Court concludes that stock-based compensation is an integral part of the compensation package of the Israeli subsidiaries’ employees with the objective of improving the quality of services rendered and strengthening the bond between the companies’ and employees’ cohesive goals. Therefore, such compensation should be included in the cost base. The Court also addressed the burden of proof in relation to transfer pricing disputes in Israel. Section 85 A (c) (2) provides that the burden of proof is with the tax authority if the taxpayer have submitted all required documentation, including a transfer pricing study, that “adequately substantiate” intercompany prices to be in accordance with arm’s length principle ... Continue to full case
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