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.

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
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
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

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
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. Share: ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

The Danish Tax Ministry and Microsoft meet in Court in a case where the Danish tax authorities had issued an assessment of DKK 308 million. The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft 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. In court, Microsoft required a dismissal with reference to the fact that Sweden, Norway and Finland had either lost or resigned similar tax cases against Micorosoft. The National Court ruled in favor of Microsoft. The decision has now been appealed to the Supreme Court by the Danish tax ministery. Click here for translation DK vs MS Marketing-and Sales Commissioner Share: ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. Corp, December 2016, Tax Tribunal, SKM2017.115

Denmark vs. Corp, December 2016, Tax Tribunal, SKM2017.115

The case relates to controlled transactions between a Danish company and its permanent establishment, as well as the calculation of taxable income of the permanent establishment. The Danish Tax Administration was entitled to make tax assessment in accordance with applicable Tax Law. The transfer pricing-documentation provided by the Company lacked a comparability analysis. The assessment was in line with the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines, but some corrections to the tax assessment were made. Share: ... Continue to full case
Germany vs. Corp. September 2016, Supreme Tax Court IV R 1 14

Germany vs. Corp. September 2016, Supreme Tax Court IV R 1 14

Tax depreciation for wind turbines presupposes economic ownership of the asset. A change in economic ownership requires that any risks are transferred to the purchaser/customer. The German Supreme Tax Court held that economic ownership of an asset is not transferred at the time it generates income but rather when the risk of accidental destruction and accidental deterioration of the asset passes to the buyer. The contractual agreements to that effect are crucial. A German partnership (KG) operated a wind farm consisting of five wind turbines. Each wind turbine on a farm is a separate asset which is to be depreciated, or amortised, separately. In December 2003 the KG entrusted a GmbH with the turnkey construction of the turbines. The purchase price was payable in installments. The GmbH in turn engaged another company with delivery and installation of the wind turbines and also to take them into ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Tanti Investimentos S.A, Supreme Court, June 2016, No. 13387

Italy vs Tanti Investimentos S.A, Supreme Court, June 2016, No. 13387

The Italien Supreme Court held that intra-group interest-free loans violates article 110(7); the Italien arm’s length provisions. Share: ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Edison s.p.a. April 2016, Supreme Court no 7493

Italy vs Edison s.p.a. April 2016, Supreme Court no 7493

The Italien company had qualified a funding arrangement as a non-interest-bearing contribution for future capital increase, hence part of Net Equity. The Italian Supreme Court found that intra-group financing agreements are subject to transfer pricing legislation and that non-interest-bearing financing is generally not consistent with the arm’s-length principle. Share: ... Continue to full case
Australia vs. Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd . October 2015, Federal Court of Australia, case No. 3 and 4

Australia vs. Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd . October 2015, Federal Court of Australia, case No. 3 and 4

The Australien Chevron case was about a $US 2.5 billion intercompany loan between Chevron Australia and its US subsidiary, Chevron Texaco, and whether the interest paid on the loan by Chevron Australia exceeded the arm’s length price. Chevron Australia had set up a company in the US, Chevron Texaco Funding Corporation, which borrowed money in US dollars at an interest rate of 1.2% and then made an Australian dollar loan at 8.9% to the Australian parent company. This 8,9% interest increased Chevron Australia’s costs, and reduced taxable profits. These interest payments, which was not taxed in the US, came back to Australia in the form of tax free dividends. The US company was just a shell created for the sole purpose of raising funds in the commercial paper market and then lending those funds to the Australian company. Chevron argued that the 8,9% interest rate was taking into account the risk of raising loans written in US ... Continue to full case
Italy vs SAME DEUTZ FAHR ITALIA s.p.a, July 2015, Supreme Court, no 15282

Italy vs SAME DEUTZ FAHR ITALIA s.p.a, July 2015, Supreme Court, no 15282

This case is about methods applicable for determination of “normal value” in transactions between related companies; the Comparable Uncontrolled Price method (CUP). Click here for translation Italy Supreme-Court-21st-July-2015-n.-15282 Share: ... Continue to full case
Norway vs. Total E&P Norge AS, October 2015, Supreme Court  2014/498, ref no. HR-2015-00699-A

Norway vs. Total E&P Norge AS, October 2015, Supreme Court 2014/498, ref no. HR-2015-00699-A

Total E&P Norge AS (Total) is engaged in petroleum exploration and production activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Income from such activities is subject to a special petroleum tax, in addition to the normal corporate tax, resulting in a total nominal tax rate of 78%. In 2002-2007, Total sold gas to the controlled trading companies, and the trading companies resold the gas to third parties on the open market. The Supreme Court concluded that Total did not have a right to full access to the comparables. Although section 3-13 (4) of the Tax Assessment Act states that information subject to confidentiality may be given to third parties with the effect that such third parties are subject to the same duty of confidentiality, this rule could not, according to the Supreme Court, be applied in the present case. This was because the very point of the ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs. Corp, Jan. 2015, Case No. 2C_1082-2013, 2C_1083-2013

Switzerland vs. Corp, Jan. 2015, Case No. 2C_1082-2013, 2C_1083-2013

In this case, the Swiss Court elaborates on application of the arm’s length principel, transfer pricing methods, OECD TPG, and the burden of proof in Switzerland. Excerp in English (unofficial translation) “5.1. The question of whether there is a disproportion between the service provided by the company and the compensation it provides is determined by comparison with what has been agreed between independent persons (“Drittvergleich”): the question is whether the benefit would have been granted, to the same extent, to a third party outside the company, or to check whether the “arm’s length” was respected. This method makes it possible to identify the market value of the property transferred or the service rendered, with which the counter-benefit actually required must be compared. 5.2. Where there is a free market, the prices charged therein are decisive and allow an effective comparison with those applied in the ... Continue to full case
France vs. Nestlé water, Feb. 2014, CAA no 11VE03460

France vs. Nestlé water, Feb. 2014, CAA no 11VE03460

In the French Nestlé water case, the following arguments were made by the company: The administration, which bears the burden of proof under the provisions of Article 57 of the General Tax Code, of paragraphs 38, 39 and 42 of the Instruction 13 l-7-98 of 23 July 199 8 and case law, does not establish the presumption of indirect transfer of profits abroad that would constitute the payment of a fee to the Swiss companies A … SA, company products A … SA and Nestec SA. The mere fact that the association of the mark A … with the mark Aquarel also benefits company A … SA, owner of the mark A …, does not allow to prove the absence of profit and thus of consideration for NWE. The latter company also benefited from the combination of the two brands. Advertising alone are not enough ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs. X, Oct. 2013, Federal Supreme Court, Case No. 2C_644-2013

Switzerland vs. X, Oct. 2013, Federal Supreme Court, Case No. 2C_644-2013

X was the principal shareholder and Chairman in the Insurance Agency, Y AG. In 2003, the company went bankrupt, with the bankruptcy proceedings suspended for lack of assets and the company was removed from the commercial register in September 2003. On 12 March 2007, the tax administration initiated a subsequent taxation proceedings against X concerning monetary benefits which it was supposed to have received from Y AG in the years 1997 to 2000. On 2 May 2012, the tax administration imposed an additional tax in the amount of CHF 39’056.20 including default interest. The appeal against this decision was rejected by the Tax Appeals Commission. Before the Federal Supreme Court, X appealed the decision. Excerp from the Federal Supreme Court ruling: “3.1 According to Art. 20 para. 1 lit.c DBG Income from movable assets, in particular dividends, profit shares, liquidation surpluses and non-cash benefits arising ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. Bombardier, October 2013, Administrative Tax Court, SKM2014.53.LSR

Denmark vs. Bombardier, October 2013, Administrative Tax Court, SKM2014.53.LSR

The issue in the case was whether the applicable rates under the cash pool arrangement were on arm’s length, i.e. in accordance with the transfer pricing requirements. The Administrative Tax Court upheld most of the conclusions of the tax authorities. First, the Court found that the tax authorities were allowed to assess an arm’s length rate due to the lack of transfer pricing documentation. Second, the financial service fee of 0.25% was upheld. Third, the Court concluded that the rate on the short-term deposits and the corresponding loans (borrowed due to insufficient liquidity management) should be the same. The Administrative Tax Court observed that there was very little or no creditor risk on these gross corresponding loans/deposits because of the possibility of offsetting the balance. Hence, according to the Court, there was no basis for a spread on the gross balance. However, the rate spread ... Continue to full case
Sweden vs Cambrex, April 2013, Administrative Court, Case No. 456-11

Sweden vs Cambrex, April 2013, Administrative Court, Case No. 456-11

In the Cambrix case the issue was whether the interest rate on an shareholder loan had been at arm’s length. The court concluded that the burden of proof was on the Swedish tax authorities and that sufficient evidence had not been provided to support the claim that the interest rate had not been at arm’s length. Click here for translation Sweden vs Cambrex AB 2013-04-26 Share: ... Continue to full case
Japan vs Manufacturing Co. March 2013, Tokyo High Court, No 19

Japan vs Manufacturing Co. March 2013, Tokyo High Court, No 19

A Japanese manufacturing company was issued an estimated tax assessment due to lack of transfer pricing documentation. The District Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities. The Court decided that accounts and documents necessary for calculating arms’s length prices should be presented or submitted to the tax authorities without delay. If sufficient documentation is not submitted, the requirement for an estimated taxation is satisfied. Furthermore, in such cases the burden of proof shifts to the taxpayer side. See the transcripts from the district Court below. The case was then appealed by the company to Tokyo High Court, which also ruled in favor of the tax authorities. Click here for translation Japan-vs-Manufacturing-Co.083647_hanrei See transcripts from the district Court below. Click here for translation – Part 1 Click here for translation – Part 2 Click here for translation – Part 3 Dokumentationssag-082362_hanrei Share: ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs. Goldfein, March 2013, Supreme Administrative Court, No. 1 Afs 99/2012-52

Czech Republic vs. Goldfein, March 2013, Supreme Administrative Court, No. 1 Afs 99/2012-52

The Czech company, Goldfine, submitted a revised tax return lowering the taxable income for the year. The reason being that the German Parent had losses for the year. The Supreme Administrative Court found that the burden of proof related to arm’s length transfer prices, under those circumstances rests with the taxpayer. Losses at the German parent company was not sufficient proof that transfer prices had been incorrect in the original tax return. The Court ruled i favor of the tax administration. Click here for translation Czech vs Corp, 13 March 2013, Supreme Adm. Court, No. 1 Afs 99-2012 Share: ... Continue to full case
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