Category: Comparability Analysis

The comparability analysis is at the heart of the application of the arm’s length principle. Application of the arm’s length principle is based on a comparison of the conditions in a controlled transaction with the conditions that would have been made had the parties been independent and undertaking a comparable transaction under comparable circumstances. There are two key aspects in such an analysis: the first aspect is to identify the commercial or financial relations between the associated enterprises and the conditions and economically relevant circumstances attaching to those relations in order that the controlled transaction is accurately delineated; the second aspect is to compare the conditions and the economically relevant circumstances of the controlled transaction as accurately delineated with the conditions and the economically relevant circumstances of comparable transactions between independent enterprises.

UK vs BlackRock, July 2022, Upper Tribunal, Case No [2022] UKUT 00199 (TCC)

UK vs BlackRock, July 2022, Upper Tribunal, Case No [2022] UKUT 00199 (TCC)

In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn. The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 LLC claimed tax deductions in the UK for interest payments on the intra-group loans. Following an audit in the UK the tax authorities disallowed the interest deductions. The tax authorities held that the transaction would not have happened between independent parties. They also found that the loans were entered into for an unallowable tax avoidance purpose. A UK taxpayer can be denied a deduction for interest where a loan has an ... Continue to full case
France vs Ferragamo France, June 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal (CAA), Case No 20PA03601

France vs Ferragamo France, June 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal (CAA), Case No 20PA03601

Ferragamo France, which was set up in 1992 and is wholly owned by the Dutch company Ferragamo International BV, which in turn is owned by the Italian company Salvatore Ferragamo Spa, carries on the business of retailing shoes, leather goods and luxury accessories and distributes, in shops in France, products under the ‘Salvatore Ferragamo’ brand, which is owned by the Italian parent company. An assessment had been issued to Ferragamo France in which the French tax authorities asserted that the French subsidiary had not been sufficiently remunerated for additional expenses and contributions to the value of the Ferragamo trademark. The French subsidiary had been remunerated on a gross margin basis, but had incurred losses in previous years and had indirect cost exceeding those of the selected comparable companies. In 2017 the Administrative Court decided in favour of Ferragamo and dismissed the assessment issued by the ... Continue to full case
Poland vs "Shopping Centre Developer sp.k.", June 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 3050/19

Poland vs “Shopping Centre Developer sp.k.”, June 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 3050/19

A Polish company, “Shopping Centre Lender sp.k.”, had been granted three intra group loans in FY 2013 for a maximum amount of EUR 2 million, EUR 115 million and EUR 43.5 million. The interest rate on the loans had been set at 9%. The tax authorities found that the 9% interest rate was higher than the arm’s length rate, and issued an assessment where the interest rate had been lowered to 3.667%, resulting in lower interest expenses and thus additional taxable income. “Shopping Centre Lender sp.k.” filed an appeal with the Administrative Court claiming that the procedure for estimating income – determining the arm’s length interest rate – had not been conducted correctly by the tax authority. In a judgement issued in May 2019 (no. III SA/Wa 1777/18) the Administrative Court issued a judgement in favour of the company. An appeal was then filed by ... Continue to full case
Greece vs "Clothing Distributor Ltd.", June 2022, Tax Court, Case No 2400/2022

Greece vs “Clothing Distributor Ltd.”, June 2022, Tax Court, Case No 2400/2022

Following an audit, the Greek tax authorities determined that the remuneration of a Greek Clothing Distributor had not been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle. On that basis an upwards adjustment of the taxable income was issued. An appeal was filed by “Clothing Distributor Ltd.” Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal and upheld the assessment issued by the tax authorities. “the findings of the audit, as recorded in the partial income tax audit report of 29/12/2021 of the C.E.M.E.P., on which the contested act is based, are considered valid, acceptable and fully justified” Click here for English translation Click here for other translation gr-ded-2022-2400_en_ath-2400_2022 ... Continue to full case
Ukrain vs PrJSC "Poltava GZK", June 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 440/1053/19

Ukrain vs PrJSC “Poltava GZK”, June 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 440/1053/19

Poltova GZK is a Ukrainian subsidiary of the Ferrexpo group – the world’s third largest exporter of iron ore pellets. In FY 2015 the iron ore mined in Ukraine by Poltava GZK was sold to other companies in the group – Ferrexpo Middle East FZE, and the transfer prices for the ore was determined by application of the CUP method using Platts quotations. However, according to the tax authorities Poltava GZK used Platts quotations for pellets with a lower iron content when pricing the higher quality pellets, resulting in non arm’s length prices for the controlled transactions and lower profits in the Ukraine subsidiary. The tax authorities also found that Poltava GZK had overestimated the cost of freight – in the case of actual transportation of pellets by ships of different classes (“Panamax”, “Capesize”), the adjustment of the delivery conditions was carried out only at ... Continue to full case
Korea vs "Semicon-sales", June 2022, Tax Court, Case No 2020-서-2311

Korea vs “Semicon-sales”, June 2022, Tax Court, Case No 2020-서-2311

A Korean subsidiary (“Semicon-sales”) of a foreign group was active in distribution and sales of semiconductors for the automotive and industrial industry. Following an audit, the tax authorities found that the subsidiary had purchased semiconductors from a foreign affiliated company at a higher price than the arm’s length price. An assessment was issued where the the sum of the difference between the arm’s length price and the reported price had been included in the taxable income for FY 2015-2018. Both “Semicon-sales” and the tax authorities had applied the TNMM to find the arm’s length price, but the tax authorities had rejected the comparables selected by “Semicon” and replaced them with others. Not satisfied with the assessment “Semicon-sales” filed an appeal. Judgement of the Court The court remanded the case with an order to exclude from the benchmark comparables where the sales volume is significantly different ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Promgas s.p.a., May 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 15668/2022

Italy vs Promgas s.p.a., May 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 15668/2022

Promgas s.p.a. is 50% owned by the Italian company Eni s.p.a. and 50% owned by the Russian company Gazprom Export. It deals with the purchase and sale of natural gas of Russian origin destined for the Italian market. It sells the gas to a single Italian entity not belonging to the group, Edison spa, on the basis of a contract signed on 24 January 2000. In essence, Promgas s.p.a. performes intermediary function between the Russian company, Gazprom Export (exporter of the gas), and the Italian company, Edison s.p.a. (final purchaser of the gas). Following an audit for FY 2005/06, the tax authorities – based on the Transaction Net Margin Method – held that the operating margin obtained by Promgas s.p.a. (0.23% in 2025 and 0.06% in 2006) were not in line with the results that the company could have achieved at arm’s length. Applying an ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs "Fertilizer BV", April 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2022:1198

Netherlands vs “Fertilizer BV”, April 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2022:1198

In 2016 Fertilizer BV had been issued a tax assessment for FY 2012 in which the tax authorities had imposed additional taxable income of €133,076,615. In November 2019 the district court ruled predominantly in favor of the tax authorities but reduced the adjustment to €78.294.312. An appel was filed by Fertilizer BV with the Court of Appeal. Judgement of the Court of Appeal Various issues related to the assessment was disputed before the Court. Dispute 1: Allocation of debt and equity capital to a permanent establishment in Libya in connection with the application of the object exemption. More specifically, the dispute is whether the creditworthiness of the head office was correctly taken as a starting point and a sufficient adjustment was made for the increased risk profile of the permanent establishment. The Court of Appeal answered this question in the affirmative, referring to the capital ... Continue to full case
Bulgaria vs Rubbertek Bulgaria EOOD, April 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3453

Bulgaria vs Rubbertek Bulgaria EOOD, April 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3453

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court upheld the complaint filed by “Rubbertek Bulgaria” and set aside an assessment for FY 2015-2016 issued by the tax authorities on the determination of the arm’s length income resulting from related party transactions. According to the Administrative court, the tax assessment was unfounded and unsubstantiated. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court in which the authorities stated that the decision of the Administrative Court was incorrect. The court erred in finding that the decision of the tax authorities referred to other comparable companies than those in Rubbertek Bulgaria’s documentation. Furthermore, the court uncritically accepted Rubbertek Bulgaria’s claim that the reason for the deviation of the declared income from the median for 2015 and 2016 was a relocation of assets from the German company to the Bulgarian company. Judgement of the ... Continue to full case
Norway vs ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-38180

Norway vs ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-38180

ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS (COPSAS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Norwegian branch of ConocoPhillips Norway, which is registered in Delaware, USA. ConocoPhillips Norway, which does not conduct special taxable business, is a wholly owned company in the ConocoPhillips Group. The group’s headquarters are in Houston, Texas, USA. The question at issue was whether the interest rate on a loan had been set too high, thus resulting in a reduction of the taxable income of COPSAS. In May 2013, COPSAS entered into a loan agreement with the related company ConocoPhillips Norway Funding Ltd (COPN Funding). The loan had a limit of NOK 20 billion and a term of 5 years. The agreed interest rate was NIBOR 6M + 1.25%. NIBOR 6M is a current interest rate (benchmark interest rate), while 1.25% is a fixed interest rate – the so-called «interest margin». The interest margin of ... 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 Burckert Contromatic Italiana S.p.A., November 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Sez. 5 Num. 1417 Anno 2022

Italy vs Burckert Contromatic Italiana S.p.A., November 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Sez. 5 Num. 1417 Anno 2022

Burkert Contromatic Italiana s.p.a. is engaged in sale and services of fluid control systems. The italian company is a subsidiary of the German Bürkert Group. Following a tax audit, the Italian tax authorities issued a notice of assessment for FY 2007 on the grounds that the cost resulting from the transactions with its parent company (incorporated under Swiss law) were higher than the arms length price of these transactions. The company challenged the tax assessment, arguing that the analysis carried out by the Office had been superficial, both because it had examined accounting documents relating to tax years other than the one under examination (2007), and because the Office, in confirming that the Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM) was the most reliable method, in order to verify whether the margin obtained by the company corresponded to the arm’s length value, had carried out a comparability ... Continue to full case
France vs BSA Finances, December 2021, Court of Appeal Versailles, Case No 20VE03249

France vs BSA Finances, December 2021, Court of Appeal Versailles, Case No 20VE03249

In 2009, 2010 and 2011 BSA Finances received a total of five loans granted by the Luxembourg company Nethuns, which belongs to the same group (the “Lactalis group”). Depending on the date on which the loans were granted, they carried interest rates of respectively 6.196%, 3.98% and 4.52%. Following an audit covering the FY 2009 to 2011, the tax authorities considered that BSA Finances did not justify that the interest rates thus charged should exceed the average effective rates charged by credit institutions for variable-rate loans to companies with an initial term of more than two years. Hence, the portion of interest exceeding these rates was considered non-deductible pursuant to the provisions of Article 212(I) of the General Tax Code. In 2017, the  Administrative Court ruled in favor of BSA Finances and discharged the additional corporate tax. But this decision was appealed by the authorities ... Continue to full case
Spain vs MAHOU (SAN MIGUEL) S.A., December 2021, Audiencia Nacional, Case No SAN 5537/2021 - ECLI:ES:AN:2021:5537

Spain vs MAHOU (SAN MIGUEL) S.A., December 2021, Audiencia Nacional, Case No SAN 5537/2021 – ECLI:ES:AN:2021:5537

The Mahou (SAN MIGUEL) S.A Group is active in brewing and sale of beers. Penibética de cervezas y bebidas SL and Andaluza de cervezas y bebidas SL are wholly owned by Cervezas Alhambra SL, which again is owned by MAHOU (SAN MIGUEL) S.A. The main activity of Cervezas Alhambra SL is the distribution and marketing under its own brands of the beer produced by its subsidiaries; that of Penibética de Cervezas y Bebidas SL is the production of beers which, without its own brand, are mainly distributed and marketed by Alhambra and the core activity of Andaluza de Cervezas y Bebidas S.L. is the manufacture of beers which, without its own brand, are distributed and marketed by Alhambra. In 2014, the tax authorities issued two tax assessments to the group: one in relation to FY 2008 and 2009, in the amount of €12,303,526.50 an another ... Continue to full case
Panama vs "Construction S.A.", December 2021, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT- RF-111 (112/2019)

Panama vs “Construction S.A.”, December 2021, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT- RF-111 (112/2019)

“Construction Service S.A.” is active in Design, Repair and Construction of buildings. During the FY 2011-2013 it paid for services – management services and construction services – rendered from related parties. Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment where payments for these services had been adjusted by reference to the arm’s length principle. According to the authorities the benchmark studies in the company’s transfer pricing documentation suffered from comparability defects and moreover it had not been sufficiently demonstrated that the services had been effectively provided. The tax authorities pointed out that since the company is not considered comparable to the taxpayer, the interquartile range would be from 5.15% to 8.30% with a median of 5.70%; therefore, the taxpayer’s operating margin of 4.07% is outside the interquartile range. Not satisfied with the adjustment “Construction Service S.A.” filed an appeal with the Tax Court Judgement ... Continue to full case
Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd. – an Indonesian subsidiary of Sanken Electric Co., Ltd. Japan – paid royalties to its Japanese parent for use of IP. The royalty payment was calculated based on external sales and therefore did not include sales of products to group companies. The royalty payments were deducted for tax purposes. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions for the royalty payments were denied. According to the authorities the license agreement had not been registrered in Indonesia. Furthermore, the royalty payment was found not to have been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle. P.T. Sanken issued a complaint over the decision with the Tax Court, where the assessment later was set aside. This decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the ... Continue to full case
Portugal vs "Welding Mesh SA", December 2021, CAAD Tax Arbitration, Case No 194/2021-T

Portugal vs “Welding Mesh SA”, December 2021, CAAD Tax Arbitration, Case No 194/2021-T

A Portuguese subsidiary – A SA – had received intra group loans in foreign currency and had various other transactions with foreign group companies. The tax authorities claimed that the pricing of the transactions had not been at arm’s length and that the interest payment and exchange losses on the loans were not tax deductible. Decision of CAAD The CAAD set aside the assessment and decided in favour of “Welding Mesh SA” Click here for English translation Portugal - P194_2021-T - 2021-12-07 ... Continue to full case
Portugal vs "FURNITURE S.A." No II, November 2021, CAAD, Case No 604/2021-T

Portugal vs “FURNITURE S.A.” No II, November 2021, CAAD, Case No 604/2021-T

Furniture S.A is engaged in the production and sale of furniture and had established a US subsidiary to market and sell furniture overseas. The pricing of the controlled transactions with the US subsidiary had been based on a resale price method, which resulted in prices amounting to 70% of the list price for the products. The Portuguese tax authority issued an assessment for FY 2015 and 2016, where the pricing of the controlled transaction had been adjusted in accordance with the price list resulting in additional taxable profits. Result reached in the arbitration tribunal. The Tribunal set aside the additional assessment of income in respect of the transfer pricing adjustment. Excerpts “…In the contract concluded with E… the Claimant safeguarded direct sales to large customers (with volume to fill a given number of containers). In practice, despite this safeguard, it is apparent from the evidence ... Continue to full case
Portugal vs "FURNITURE S.A." No I, November 2021, CAAD, Case No 14/2021-T

Portugal vs “FURNITURE S.A.” No I, November 2021, CAAD, Case No 14/2021-T

Furniture S.A is engaged in the production and sale of furniture and had established a US subsidiary to market and sell furniture overseas. The pricing of the controlled transactions with the US subsidiary had been based on a resale price method, which resulted in prices amounting to 70% of the list price for the products. The Portuguese tax authority issued an assessment, where the pricing of the controlled transaction had been adjusted in accordance with the price list resulting in additional taxable profits. Result reached in the arbitration tribunal. The Tribunal set aside the additional assessment of income in respect of the transfer pricing adjustment. Excerpts “… The application of the principle of comparability must be based on an individual analysis of the transactions, with a view to comparing the conditions practiced in a transaction between related entities and those practiced between independent entities. As ... Continue to full case
Spain vs "Benchmark SA", November 2021, TEAC, Case No Rec. 4881/2019

Spain vs “Benchmark SA”, November 2021, TEAC, Case No Rec. 4881/2019

The tax authorities excluded some of the entities selected by the taxpayer in a benchmark study, as it considered that they did not meet the necessary comparability requirements, and also included some of the excluded entities, as it considered that they were comparable. These modifications to the benchmark resulted in a variation of the arm’s length range, with the margin earned by the taxpayer falling outside the range. The taxpayer argued that the recalculation of market value should be based on a complete new analysis to replace the one provided by the entity. In relation to the rejection of certain comparables, the taxpayer argued that the information used by the tax authorities and consulted on the internet was not available at the time the transfer pricing documentation was prepared. Judgement of the TEAC The TEAC rejected the claim filed by the taxpayer and upheld the assessment ... Continue to full case