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.

India vs Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd, July 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Case No ITAT No 633-MUM-2021

India vs Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd, July 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Case No ITAT No 633-MUM-2021

Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd (the assessee) is in the business of providing design and engineering services. To that end Sulzer Management AG, an associated enterprise provided various IT and support services to Sulzer Tech India. The payment for these services had been determined based on a benchmark study where Sulzer Management AG was chosen as the tested party. The cost plus margin for the selected comparables ranged from 4.08% to 7.08%, with a median of 5.69%, and on that basis the payment to Sulzer Management of Rs. 2,52,49,650, which was equal to cost plus 5%, was considered to be at arm’s length. The tax authorities disagreed and held that Sulzer Tech India at arm’s length would not have paid any amount toward services which are not availed to it and have not benefited its business. Accordingly, an adjustment of additional income of Rs. 2,52,49,650, ... Continue to full case
Malaysia vs Keysight Technologies Malaysia, May 2022, High Court, Case No WA-144-03-2020

Malaysia vs Keysight Technologies Malaysia, May 2022, High Court, Case No WA-144-03-2020

Keysight Technologies Malaysia Sdn Bhd (KTM) was incorporated in 1998 and active as a full-fledged manufacturer of various microwave devices and test instruments in which capacity it had also developed valuable intangibles. In 2008, KTM was converted into a contract manufacturer under an agreement with Agilent Technologies International s.a.r.l. and at the same time KLM purportedly transferred its intangibles to Agilent Technologies. KTM received an amount of RM 821 million which it reported as non-taxable gains form sale of intangibles in its tax return. Following an audit the tax authorities issued a notice of assessment for FY 2008 where the sum of RM 821 million had been considered revenue in nature and thus taxable under Section 4(f) of the ITA. This resulted in a claim of RM 311 million together with a 45% penalty. According to the tax authorities the transfer of technical knowhow was ... Continue to full case
France vs SAS Oakley Holding, May 2022, CAA of Lyon, No 19LY03100

France vs SAS Oakley Holding, May 2022, CAA of Lyon, No 19LY03100

SNC Oakley Europe, a subsidiary of SAS Oakley Holding, which belonged to the American group Oakley Inc. until its takeover in 2007 by the Italian group Luxottica, carried on the business of distributing clothing, footwear, eyewear and accessories of the Oakley brand on European territory. Following the takeover SNC Oakley Europe in 2008 transferred its distribution activity on the French market to another French company, Luxottica France, and its distribution activity on the European market to companies incorporated in Ireland, Luxottica Trading and Finance and Oakley Icon, and deducted restructuring costs in an amount of EUR 15,544,267. The tax authorities qualified these costs as an advantage granted without consideration to its sister companies, constituting, on the one hand, an abnormal management act and, on the other hand, an indirect transfer of profits within the meaning of Article 57 of the General Tax Code on the ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o., April 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 7 Afs 398/2019 - 49

Czech Republic vs Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o., April 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 7 Afs 398/2019 – 49

Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. is a subsidiary within the Japanese Aisan Industry Group which manufactures various engine components – fuel-pump modules, throttle bodies, carburetors for independent car manufactures such as Renault and Toyota. According to the original transfer pricing documentation the Czech company was classified as a limited risk contract manufacturer within the group, but yet it had suffered operating losses for several years. Following a tax audit an assessment was issued resulting in additional corporate income tax for FY 2011 in the amount of CZK 11 897 090, and on top of that a penalty in the amount of CZK 2 379 418. The assessment resulted from application of arm’s length provisions where the profitability of Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. had been determined on the basis of the profitability of comparable companies – TNMM method. An appeal was filed by Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o ... Continue to full case
France vs ST Dupont , April 2022, CAA of Paris, No 19PA01644

France vs ST Dupont , April 2022, CAA of Paris, No 19PA01644

ST Dupont is a French luxury manufacturer of lighters, pens and leather goods. It is majority-owned by the Dutch company D&D International, which is wholly-owned by Broad Gain Investments Ltd, based in Hong Kong. ST Dupont is the sole shareholder of distribution subsidiaries located abroad, in particular ST Dupont Marketing, based in Hong Kong. Following an audit, an adjustment was issued where the tax administration considered that the prices at which ST Dupont sold its products to ST Dupont Marketing (Hong Kong) were lower than the arm’s length prices. “The investigation revealed that the administration found that ST Dupont was making significant and persistent losses, with an operating loss of between EUR 7,260,086 and EUR 32,408,032 for the financial years from 2003 to 2009. It also noted that its marketing subsidiary in Hong Kong, ST Dupont Marketing, in which it held the entire capital, was ... Continue to full case
Australia vs PwC, March 2022, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 278

Australia vs PwC, March 2022, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 278

In the course of an audit a formal request to produce certain documents was issued to the multinational meat production group JBS by the Australian tax authorities. On behalf of its client, PwC claimed that the documents requested were subject to legal professional privilege (LPP), and therefore did not need to be produced. Thus, PwC declined to provide approximately 44,000 documents. The tax authorities disputed the LPP claims over approximately 15,500 documents. However, for the purposes of the trial, only 116 sample documents were selected by the partis and considered by the court. Judgement of the Federal Court The court found that legal professional privilege claims needed to be considered on a document-by-document basis. From the sample of documents selected by the parties, the court concluded that 49 were privileged; 6 were partly privileged; and 61 were not privileged. Excerpt “It is therefore necessary to ... Continue to full case
Costa Rica vs GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A., February 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 4-001638-1027-CA

Costa Rica vs GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A., February 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 4-001638-1027-CA

GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A. manufactures pharma products which is sold to both independent customers in the region and to group companies abroad. For FY 2004 and 2005 pricing of the controlled transactions had been determined based on the TNMM method using return on total costs (ROTC) as PLI. GSK said the range of return on total costs “for the comparable independent companies ranges from 4.7 per cent to 14.5 per cent, with a median of 9.6 per cent. GSK CR obtained an average ROTC of 50.6 percent during fiscal years 2004 and 2005, which was not below the range identified for comparable independent companies. Accordingly, the transfer prices used by GSK CR in its controlled transactions did not distort GSK CR’s profitability and satisfied the arm’s length principle set out in the OECD Guidelines. In 2009 the tax authorities issued an assessment for FY 2004 ... Continue to full case
Italy vs SKECHERS USA ITALIA SRL, January 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 02908/2022

Italy vs SKECHERS USA ITALIA SRL, January 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 02908/2022

Skechers USA ITALIA SRL – a company operating in the sector of the marketing of footwear and accessories – challenged a notice of assessment, relating to FY 2004, by which, at the outcome of a tax audit, its business income was adjusted as a result of the ascertained inconsistency of the transfer prices relating to purchases of goods from the parent company (and sole shareholder) resident in Switzerland. The tax authorities had contested the uneconomic nature of the taxpayer company’s operations, given the losses recognised in various financial years, attributing the uneconomic nature to the artificial manipulation of the transfer prices of the purchases of goods and recalculating, consequently, the negative income component constituted by the aforesaid costs pursuant to Article 110, paragraph 7 of the TUIR, with the consequent non-deductibility of the same to the extent exceeding the normal value of the price of ... Continue to full case
Australia vs CUB Australia Holding Pty Ltd, September 2021, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 171

Australia vs CUB Australia Holding Pty Ltd, September 2021, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 171

In this case CUB Australia Holding Pty Ltd appeals a judicial review decision by a judge of the Federal Court. The tax authorities had issued a Notice on 4 March 2020 requesting CUB to provide certain details about documents over which CUB had claimed legal professional privilege (LPP). CUB declined to provide the requested details about the documents in full. The tax authorities then issued a “formal notice” to the taxpayer demanding (under threat of prosecution for non-compliance) the information. CUB argued that the notice was issued (at least partly) for an “improper purpose” and was therefore invalid. According to CUB, evidence showed that the authorities did not seek the information to decide whether to challenge the taxpayer’s claim of legal professional privilege, but instead to determine the claim. Judgement of the Federal Court The court upheld the previous judicial review-decision. The officer that had ... Continue to full case
Italy vs INTERVET PRODUCTIONS SRL, January 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Case No 22539/2021

Italy vs INTERVET PRODUCTIONS SRL, January 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Case No 22539/2021

Intervet Productions SRL, a company resident in Italy, manufactures veterinary medicines and supplements. The Italian tax authorities issued a notice of assessment, relating to the 2004 tax year. In that notice, the tax authorities ascertained the inconsistency of the transfer prices concerning the sale of certain goods to a related party in Germany. For the determination of the transfer prices, the taxpayer had used two methods: the resale price method, for products subject to mere marketing, and the cost-plus method, for products subject to further processing by Intervet. The tax authorities had used the CUP method for the purpose of the adjustment. Intervet appealed against the assessment, contesting the comparability of the products compared by the tax authorities but lost in the proceedings on the merits An appeal was then filed with the Supreme Administrative Court. Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The Court set ... Continue to full case
Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Ensco Gerudi provided offshore drilling services to the petroleum industry in Malaysia, including leasing drilling rigs, to oil and gas operators in Malaysia. In order to provide these services, the Ensco entered into a Master Charter Agreement dated 21.9.2006 (amended on 17.8.2011) (“Master Charter Agreement”) with Ensco Labuan Limited (“ELL”), a third-party contractor, to lease drilling rigs from ELL. Ensco then rents out the drilling rigs to its own customers. As part of the Master Charter Agreement, Ensco agreed to pay ELL a percentage of the applicable day rate that Ensco earns from its drilling contracts with its customers for the drilling rigs. By way of a letter dated 12.10.2018, the tax authorities initiated its audit for FY 2015 to 2017. The tax authorities issued its first audit findings letter on 23.10.2019 where it took the position that the pricing of the leasing transactions between ... Continue to full case
Italy vs TMC Italia SpA, June 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 18436/2021

Italy vs TMC Italia SpA, June 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 18436/2021

TMC Italy SpA is a parent company which provides services and support to the commercial production activities of its affiliated companies based in foreign countries (Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Israel, Brazil, United Kingdom). The costs of providing these intra-group services had been allocated between the related parties based on the number and salary of employees in FY 2008 and 2009. The tax administration issued an assessment where the allocation was instead be based on turnover – due to data supporting better correlation. The Court of first instance held in favour of the tax authorities. This decision was appealed by TMC to the Supreme Court. Judgement of the Court The Court dismissed the appeal of TMC in its entirety and decided in favour of the tax authorities. Excerpts: “CTR considered legitimate and correct the use of the method of allocation of the profits of the ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. "Advisory business ApS", June 2021, High Court, Case No SKM2021.335.OLR

Denmark vs. “Advisory business ApS”, June 2021, High Court, Case No SKM2021.335.OLR

The case concerned a Danish company that provided legal services regarding tax deductions for improvements to real estate, etc. In 2006, the owner of the Danish company moved to Y2 city and in the process established a company in Y2 city, which would then provide services to the Danish sister company, including legal advice. The tax authorities had increased the Danish company’s taxable income by an estimated total of approximately DKK 58.4 million, as the tax authorities considered that the company’s transfer pricing documentation was sufficiently deficient, in accordance with Section 3 B(8) of the Tax Control Act, cf. Section 5(3), and that the service agreements were not concluded at arm’s length in breach Danish arm’s length provisions. Judgement of the High Court The tax authorities were entitled to exercise discretion over pricing of the controlled transactions as the transactions had not been priced at ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, May 2021, High Court, Case No [2021] HCATrans 098

Australia vs Glencore, May 2021, High Court, Case No [2021] HCATrans 098

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax authorities 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 tax assessment was brought to court by Glencore. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. The ruling of the Federal Court was appealed by the Australian tax authorities. On 6 November 2020, a Full Federal Court in a 3-0 ruling dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities. The tax authorities then submitted a application for special leave to the High Court. This application was dismissed by the Court in a judgement issued 20 ... Continue to full case
Italy vs GI Group S.p.A., May 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 13850/2021

Italy vs GI Group S.p.A., May 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 13850/2021

A non-interest-bearing loan had been granted by GI Group S.p.A., to a related company – Goldfinger Limited – in Hong Kong, in order to acquire a 56% shareholding in the Chinese company Ningbo Gi Human Resources Co. Limited. The Italien tax authorities had issued an assessment, where an interest rate on the loan had been determined and an amount equal to the interest calculated on that basis had been added to the taxable income of GI Group S.p.A. GI Group brought this assessment to the Regional Tax Commission where a decision was rendered setting aside the assessment. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme court upheld the appeal of the tax authorities and referred the case back to the Regional Tax Commission. According to the Supreme Court, the decision of the Tax Commission ... Continue to full case
France vs. SARL Cosi Immobilier, April 2021, CAA de LYON, Case No. 19LY00527

France vs. SARL Cosi Immobilier, April 2021, CAA de LYON, Case No. 19LY00527

SARL Cosi Immobilier, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss company Compagnie de Services Immobiliers SA (Cosi SA). The group is engaged in sale of properties and real estate. Following a tax audit covering the FY 2011 and 2012, an assessment of additional corporate income tax was issued, together with penalties. According to the tax authorities service fees paid by SARL Cosi to its Swiss parent (50% of the the sales commission received) for online marketing of properties and real estates located in France had not been at arm’s length. The company requested the administrative court of Lyon to discharge the assessments, but this request was rejected by the court in a judgement issued 11 December 2018. This decision was then appealed by the company to the Supreme Administrative Court. Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The Appeal of Cosi Immobilier was rejected by ... Continue to full case
Italy vs "Fruit old s.a.s", March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8176 - R.G.N. 8952/2013, 2021-25

Italy vs “Fruit old s.a.s”, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8176 – 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