Category: Losses that continue indefinitely

When an associated enterprise consistently realizes losses while the MNE group as a whole is profitable, the facts could trigger some special scrutiny of transfer pricing issues. Of course, associated enterprises, like independent enterprises, can sustain genuine losses, whether due to heavy start-up costs, unfavourable economic conditions, inefficiencies, or other legitimate business reasons. However, an independent enterprise would not be prepared to tolerate losses that continue indefinitely. An independent enterprise that experiences recurring losses will eventually cease to undertake business on such terms. In contrast, an associated enterprise that realizes losses may remain in business if the business is beneficial to the MNE group as a whole. See TPG2017, Para 1.129, 1.130 and 1.131.

France vs SARL Elie Saab France, June 2021, Conseil d'État, Case No 433985

France vs SARL Elie Saab France, June 2021, Conseil d’État, Case No 433985

The French tax authorities had issued an assessment to SARL Elie Saab France in which they asserted that the French subsidiary had not been sufficiently remunerated for additional expenses and contributions to the value of the SARL Elie Saab trademark. The Supreme Administrative Court upheld the decision of the tax authorities. “It is clear from the statements in the judgment under appeal that the company Elie Saab France is responsible for the management, manufacture and distribution for the Elie Saab group of the top-of-the-range daywear line, distributes “Elie Saab” brand accessories for all the group’s entities, as well as the distribution in France and for European customers of the haute couture line, and sells, in its Paris boutique and to boutiques distributing the brand worldwide, a line of evening wear and accessories developed by the group’s Lebanese subsidiary. In addition, Elie Saab France has a ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Tetra Pak Processing Systems A/S, April 2021, Supreme Court, Case No BS-19502/2020-HJR

Denmark vs Tetra Pak Processing Systems A/S, April 2021, Supreme Court, Case No BS-19502/2020-HJR

The Danish tax authorities had issued a discretionary assessment of the taxable income of Tetra Pak Processing Systems A/S due to inadequate transfer pricing documentation and continuous losses. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court found that the TP documentation provided by the company did not comply to the required standards. The TP documentation did state how prices between Tetra Pak and the sales companies had been determined and did not contain a comparability analysis, as required under the current § 3 B, para. 5 of the Tax Control Act and section 6 of the Danish administrative ordinance regarding transfer pricing documentation. Against this background, the Supreme Court found that the TP documentation was deficient to such an extent that it had to be equated with missing documentation. The Supreme Court agreed that Tetra Pak’s taxable income for FY 2005-2009 could be determined on ... Continue to full case
Norway vs "Distributor A AS", March 2021, Tax Board, Case No 01-NS 131/2017

Norway vs “Distributor A AS”, March 2021, Tax Board, Case No 01-NS 131/2017

A fully fledged Norwegian distributor in the H group was restructured and converted into a Limited risk distributor. The tax authorities issued an assessment where the income of the Norwegian distributor was adjusted to the median in a benchmark study prepared by the tax authorities, based on the “Transactional Net Margin Method” (TNMM method). Decision of the Tax Board In a majority decision, the Tax Board determined that the case should be send back to the tax administration for further processing. Excerpt “…The majority agrees with the tax office that deficits over time may give reason to investigate whether the intra-group prices are set on market terms. However, the case is not sufficiently informed for the tribunal to take a final position on this. In order to determine whether the income has been reduced as a result of incorrect pricing of intra-group transactions and debits, ... Continue to full case
Romania vs "GAS distributor" SC A, December 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No 238/12.03.2020

Romania vs “GAS distributor” SC A, December 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No 238/12.03.2020

The disputed issue concerns the purchase prices of natural gas by SC A from an affiliated company SC B. By orders of the National Energy Regulatory Authority (NERA), the prices of supply of natural gas to domestic and non-domestic consumers were regulated and fixed, but not the price at which SC A purchased it from the SC B. The tax authority issued an assessment where the price of the controlled gas transaction was determined by reference to profit level indicators of comparable businesses. SC A brought the decision to the Romanian courts. Judgement of the Court of Appeal The appeal of SC A was dismissed and the assessment of the tax authorities upheld. Excerpt “In the present case, in order to adjust the expenses for the cost of the goods purchased from SC “B.” SRL, based on the level of the central market trend, the ... Continue to full case
Romania vs "Electrolux" A. SA, November 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 6059/2020

Romania vs “Electrolux” A. SA, November 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 6059/2020

In this case, a Romanian manufacturer and distributor (A. SA) in the Electrolux group (C) had been loss making while the group as a whole had been profitable. The tax authorities issued an assessment, where the profit of A. SA had been determined based on a comparison to the profitability of independent traders in households appliances. When calculating the profit margin of A. SA certain adjustments was made to the costs – depreciations, extraordinary costs etc. When comparing A. SA’s net profit to financial results with those of the group to which it belongs, it emerged that, during the period under review, the applicant was loss-making while C. made a profit. With reference to paragraphs 1.70 and 1.71 of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines, when an affiliated company consistently makes a loss while the group as a whole is profitable, the data may call for ... Continue to full case
Poland vs Cans Corp Sp z.o.o., August 2020, Administrative Court, I SA/Sz 115/20

Poland vs Cans Corp Sp z.o.o., August 2020, Administrative Court, I SA/Sz 115/20

At issue in this case was the remuneration of a Polish manufacturing subsidiary in an international group dealing in the production and sale of metal packaging for food products, including beverage cans, food cans, household cans and metal lids for jars etc. The Polish tax authorities had issued an tax assessment for FY 2009 – 2012 based on a TNMM benchmark study where financial results of comparable independent manufactures operating in the packaging industry showed that the the Polish manufacturing site had underestimated revenues obtained from the sale of goods to related entities The Court of first instance held in favor of the tax authorities. The case was then brought before the Administrative Court of Appeal. In the Court’s view, the authorities did not subject the case to thorough verification in accordance with the legal standards on which the decision was based – including, in ... Continue to full case
Greece vs "G Pharma Ltd", july 2020, Court, Case No 1582

Greece vs “G Pharma Ltd”, july 2020, Court, Case No 1582

“G Pharma Ltd” is a distributor of generic and specialised pharmaceutical products purchased exclusively from affiliated suppliers. It has no significant intangible assets nor does it assume any significant risks. However for 17 consecutive years it has had losses. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment, where the income of G Pharma Ltd was determined by application of the Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM). According to the tax authorities a limited risk distributor such as G Pharma Ltd would be expected to be compensated with a small, guaranteed, positive profitability. G Pharma Ltd disagreed with the assessment and filed an appeal. Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal of G Pharma Ltd and upheld the assessment issued by the tax authorities. Excerpts “First, the reasons for the rejection of the final comparable sample of two companies were set out in detail ... 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 RKS (AB SKF Sweden) , June 2020, CAA of VERSAILLES, Case No. 18VE02848

France vs SAS RKS (AB SKF Sweden) , June 2020, CAA of VERSAILLES, Case No. 18VE02848

SAS RKS, a French subsidiary of the Swedish SKF group, was engaged in manufacturing of bearings. RKS had, with the exception of 2008, had a negative results since 2005. Following an audit for FY 2009 and 2010, the French tax administration by application of the TNMM method, determined that SAS RKS should have a net profit margin of 2.33% in 2009 and 2.62% in 2010. The tax assessment was brought to the Montreuil Administrative Court, and in April 2018 a judgement in favor of the company was issued. This judgement was appealed by the tax authorities to the CAA. The CAA overturned the judgment of the Administrative Court and found in favor of the tax authorities. “The administration has qualified as hidden income the profits mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, transferred by the company RKF to the business units of the SKF group, established abroad ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Icemachine Manufacturer A/S, June 2020, National Court, Case No SKM2020.224.VLR

Denmark vs Icemachine Manufacturer A/S, June 2020, National Court, Case No SKM2020.224.VLR

At issue was the question of whether the Danish tax authorities had been entitled to make a discretionary assessment of the taxable income of Icemachine Manufacturer A/S due to inadequate transfer pricing documentation and continuous losses. And if such a discretionary assessment was justified, the question of whether the company had lifted the burden of proof that the tax authorities’ estimates had been clearly unreasonable. The Court ruled that the transfer pricing documentation provided by the company was so inadequate that it did not provide the tax authorities with a sufficient basis for determining whether the arm’s length principle had been followed. The tax authorities had therefore been entitled to make a discretionary assessment of the taxable income. For that purpose the Court found that the tax authorities had been justified in using the TNM method with the Danish company as the tested party, since sufficiently reliable ... Continue to full case
Finland vs A Oy, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:34

Finland vs A Oy, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:34

A Oy had operated as the marketing and sales company of an international group in Finland. With the exception of 2008, the company’s operations had been unprofitable in 2003-2011, while at the same time the Group’s operations had been profitable overall. A Oy had purchased the products from the contract manufacturers belonging to the group. The method used in the Group’s transfer pricing documentation for product purchases had been characterized as a modified cost-plus / profit margin method (TNMM). The tested parties were contract manufacturers belonging to the group, for whom four comparable independent companies had been found in a search of the Amadeus database. According to the documentation, the EBITDA target margin for the Group’s contract manufacturers was set at two percent. When submitting A Oy’s tax return for 2010, the tax Office had considered, on the basis of the OECD’s 2010 Transfer Pricing ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs. Eli Lilly ČR, s.r.o., December 2019, District Court of Praque, No. 6 Afs 90/2016 - 62

Czech Republic vs. Eli Lilly ČR, s.r.o., December 2019, District Court of Praque, No. 6 Afs 90/2016 – 62

Eli Lilly ČR imports pharmaceutical products purchased from Eli Lilly Export S.A. (Swiss sales and marketing hub) into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and distributes them to local distributors. The arrangement between the local company and Eli Lilly Export S.A. is based on a Service Contract in which Eli Lilly ČR is named as the service provider to Eli Lilly Export S.A. (the principal). Eli Lilly ČR was selling the products at a lower price than the price it purchased them for from Eli Lilly Export S.A. According to the company this was due to local price controls of pharmaceuticals. Eli Lilly ČR was also paid for providing marketing services by the Swiss HQ, which ensured that Eli Lilly ČR was profitable, despite selling the products at a loss. Eli Lilly ČR reported the marketing services as a provision of services with the place of ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

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. “Section 2 of the Tax Assessment Act. Paragraph 1 states that, when calculating the taxable income, group affiliates must apply prices and terms for commercial or economic transactions in accordance with what could have been agreed if the transactions ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs "Trust Administrator A. SA", September 2019, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_343/2019

Switzerland vs “Trust Administrator A. SA”, September 2019, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_343/2019

A Swiss company provided administration and other services to trusts. According to the company a related party in the Seychelles handled the daily business and received remuneration in accordance with an intra-group service agreement. Due to the service fees paid the Swiss company reported losses. Following an audit the tax administration issued an assessment where the fees paid to the related company in the Seychelles had been determined using the cost plus (5%) method. Judgement of the Supreme Court The court dismissed the appeal of A. SA and upheld the assessment of the tax authorities. The Court confirmed that the Seychelles company only performed routine functions without assumption of any significant risk. The cost plus 5% remuneration was therefore confirmed. Excerpts “4.6. According to the OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs, by referring to the conditions that would prevail between independent enterprises for comparable transactions (i.e ... Continue to full case
Norway vs A/S Norske Shell, September 2019, Borgarting lagmannsrett, Case No LB-2018-79168 – UTV-2019-807

Norway vs A/S Norske Shell, September 2019, Borgarting lagmannsrett, Case No LB-2018-79168 – UTV-2019-807

A/S Norske Shell – an entity within the Dutch Shell group – had operations on the Norwegian continental shelf and conducted research and development (R&D) through a subsidiary. All R&D costs were deducted in Norway. The Norwegian tax authority applied the arms length principle and issued a tax assessment. It was assumed that the R&D expense was due to a joint interest with the other upstream companies in the Shell group. The Court of Appeal found that the R&D conducted in Norway also constituted an advantage for the foreign companies within the group for which an independent company would demand compensation. The resulting reduction in revenue provided the basis for determining the company’s income on a discretionary basis in accordance with section 13-1 of the Tax Act. The tax authorities determination of the amount of the income reduction had not based on an incorrect or ... Continue to full case
Italy vs J.T.G.P. spa, September 2019, Lombardi Regional Tribunal, Case No 928/20/2019

Italy vs J.T.G.P. spa, September 2019, Lombardi Regional Tribunal, Case No 928/20/2019

The Italian company J.T.G.P spa, a subsidiary in a multinational pharma group ALPHA J, had recorded operating losses for fiscal years 1997 to 2013, where, at a consolidated level, the group had showed positive results. According to the Italian tax authorities, the reason why the Italian company was still in operation was due to the fact that the group had an interest in keeping an international profile, and to that end the Italian company performed marketing activities benefiting the Group. An assessment was issued where the taxable income of the Italian company was added compensation for inter-company marketing services carried out by the Italian company on behalf of the group. The company argued that the pharmaceutical market and the governmental policy on the prices of medicines in Italy was the reason for the losses. In support of this claim the company submitted broad documentary evidence ... Continue to full case
Poland vs A Sp. z o.o., June 2019, Administrative Court, Case No GD 530/19

Poland vs A Sp. z o.o., June 2019, Administrative Court, Case No GD 530/19

A Polish Subsidiary A SP. z o.o. had incurred a loss in 2012 in the amount of PLN 1,357,333.66 and following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment whereby the loss was reduced by an amount of PLN 234,019.90. The disputable issue was whether, in the circumstances of the case under consideration, the tax authorities correctly determined the amount of the applicant’s loss for 2012 in an amount other than that resulting from the correction of the declaration due to the finding that the Company undervalued income from transactions concluded with related entities for a total amount of PLN 234,019.90. The Administrative Court dismissed the complaint of A SP z o.o. According the the provided transfer pricing documentation the company had applied a TNMM and determined remuneration based on cost added a fixed percentage of 4% for the parent company, 8% for other companies ... Continue to full case
Zambia vs Nestlé Trading Ltd, March 2019, Tax Appeals Tribunal, Case No 2018/TAT/03/DT

Zambia vs Nestlé Trading Ltd, March 2019, Tax Appeals Tribunal, Case No 2018/TAT/03/DT

Nestlé Zambia had reported continuous losses for more than five years. Following an Transfer Pricing audit covering years 2010 – 2014, the tax administration  issued an assessment whereby profits were adjusted to ZMW 56,579,048 resulting in additional taxes of ZMW13,860,103 plus penalties and other levies. The assessment was based on Nestlé Zambia being characterised as a limited risk distributor instead of a full fledged dristributor. Nestlé  Zambia held that the tax administrations characterisation of the entity as a limited risk distributor was incorrect and that the assessment had not been performed in accordance with the arm’s length principle.  The Tribunal ruled in favor of Nestlé, except for it’s position on the characterisation of the entity as a limited risk distributor (ground four cf. the excerp below). “The summary of our findings is  that  there  was  basis  for  initiating  a  transfer pricing audit in this case because as ... Continue to full case
Indonesia vs PK manufacturing Ltd, January 2019 Court of Appeal, Case No. PUT-115599.15/2014/PP/M.XIIIB Tahun 2019

Indonesia vs PK manufacturing Ltd, January 2019 Court of Appeal, Case No. PUT-115599.15/2014/PP/M.XIIIB Tahun 2019

PK manufacturing Ltd was a contract manufacturer of cabins for excavators for the Japanese parent and paid royalties for use of IP owned by the parent. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions for royalty payments were disallowed due to lack of documentation for ownership to Intellectual Property by the Japanese parent. Furthermore, the tax authorities did not see any economic benefit for the contract manufacturer in paying the royalties, as it had been continuously loss making. The Company disagreed and brought the case to court. The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the tax authorities. Existence and ownership to the Intellectual Property in question had not been sufficiently documented by the Japanese parent company. Part 1 – Click here for translation Part 2 – Click here for translation Putusan Nomor ... Continue to full case
Poland vs "Blueberry Factory" Sp z.o.o., June 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, II FSK 1665/16

Poland vs “Blueberry Factory” Sp z.o.o., June 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, II FSK 1665/16

In this case there were family, capital and personal ties between the Blueberry Factory and its shareholders, and the terms and conditions of the Company’s transactions with its shareholders (purchase of blueberry fruit) had not been at arm’s length. The higher prices paid by the Blueberry Farm benefited the shareholders (suppliers), who thus generated higher income from their agricultural activities, not subject to income tax. The company generated only losses in the years 2011 – 2013. According to the Polish tax authorities, the Blueberry Farm purchased blueberry fruit at excessive prices and thus overstated its tax-deductible expenses by PLN 347,845.48. The excessive prices (relative to market prices) increased the income of its shareholders (agricultural producers), whose income was not subject to personal income tax as being derived from agricultural activities. The tax authorities applied the provisions of Art. 11.1, Par. 2.2 of the Corporate Income ... Continue to full case