Category: Services and Fees

Management fees are usually payments from subsidiaries for head office services. Management fees have been used to shift income from high tax to low tax jurisdictions. For transfer pricing practitioners it is important to establish the facts and supporting documentation substantiating that management services are actually being performed. The mere description of a payment as a “management fee” should not be expected to be treated as prima facie evidence that such services have been rendered.

Panama vs "Pharma Distributor S.A.", July 2021, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-066

Panama vs “Pharma Distributor S.A.”, July 2021, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-066

An adjustment for FY 2013 and 2014 had been issued to a pharmaceutical company in Panama “Pharma Distributor S.A” that resulted in an income adjustment of 19.5 million dollars, which in turn resulted in additional taxes of 2.4 million dollars. The resale price method had been used by Pharma Distributor S.A. to determine the market value of an asset acquired from a related entity that was sold to an independent entity. This method was rejected by the tax authorities based on the fact that the analysis presented by the taxpayer did not meet the requirements for application of the method. The tax authorities instead applied a TNMM. The tax authorities also rejected tax deductions for expenses purportedly paid for administrative services due to the absence of supporting documentation. Provisions of article 762-G “Administrative services received” in the Tax Code in Panama contemplates tax deductibility for ... 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

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
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
France vs. SARL SRN Métal, May 2021, CAA, Case No. 19NC03729

France vs. SARL SRN Métal, May 2021, CAA, Case No. 19NC03729

SARL SRN Métal’s business is trading in industrial metal and steel products. Following an audit of the company for FY 2011 to 2012 and assessment was issued related to VAT, Transfer Pricing and Withholding Tax. In regards to transfer pricing, the administration considered that (1) the sales of goods made by SRN Métal to B-Lux Steel, established in Luxembourg, were invoiced at a lower price than that charged to the company’s other customers and (2) that commissions paid to Costa Rica – a privileged tax regime – were not deductible as SRN Metal did not provided proof that the expenses corresponded to real operations and that they are not abnormal or exaggerated. The company requested the administrative court of Strasbourg to discharge the assessments. This request was rejected by the court in a judgement issued 29 October 2019. This decision of the administrative court was ... Continue to full case
South Africa vs Levi Strauss SA (PTY) LTD, April 2021, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No (509/2019) [2021] ZASCA 32

South Africa vs Levi Strauss SA (PTY) LTD, April 2021, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No (509/2019) [2021] ZASCA 32

Levi Strauss South Africa (Pty) Ltd, has been in a dispute with the African Revenue Services, over import duties and value-added tax (VAT) payable by it in respect of clothing imports. The Levi’s Group uses procurement Hubs in Singapore and Hong Kong but channeled goods via Mauritius to South Africa, thus benefiting from a favorable duty protocol between Mauritius and South Africa. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment in which it determined that the place of origin certificates issued in respect of imports from countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) and used to clear imports emanating from such countries were invalid, and therefore disentitled Levi SA from entering these goods at the favorable rate of zero percent duty under the Protocol on Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region (the Protocol). The tax authorities also determined that the ... 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
Philippines vs Snowy Owl Energy Inc, March 2021, Tax Court, CTA CASE No. 9618

Philippines vs Snowy Owl Energy Inc, March 2021, Tax Court, CTA CASE No. 9618

In 2013, Snowy Owl Energy Inc entered into a Consultancy Agreement (Subconsultant Services Agreement) with Rolenergy Inc. – a Hong Kong-based corporation organized and registered in the British Virgin Islands. Based on the Agreement, Rolenergy would serve as Snowy Owl Energy Inc’s sub-consultant. The tax authorities issued an assessment for deficiency income tax (IT), final withholding tax (FWT) and compromise penalty in relation to the sub-consultant fees it paid for taxable year 2013. Judgement of the Tax Court The Court decided in favour of Snowy Owl Energy Inc. Section 23(F)36 in relation to Section 42(C)(3)37 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended, provides that a non-resident foreign corporation is taxable only for income from sources within the Philippines, and does not include income for services performed outside the Philippines. Excerpts: “Indubitably, the payments made in exchange for the services rendered in Hong Kong are income ... 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
Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. had entered into a substantial service contract with an unrelated party in Latin America, Telefonica, according to which the DIGITEX group would provide certain services for Telefonica. The contract originally entered by DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. was later transferred to DIGITEX’s Latin American subsidiaries. But after the transfer, cost and amortizations related to the contract were still paid – and deducted for tax purposes – by DIGITEX in Spain. The tax authorities found that costs (amortizations, interest payments etc.) related to the Telefonica contract – after the contract had been transferred to the subsidiaries – should have been reinvoiced to the subsidiaries, and an assessment was issued to DIGITEX for FY 2010 and 2011 where these deductions had been disallowed. DIGITEX on its side argued that by not re-invoicing the costs to the subsidiaries the income received from the subsidiaries increased. According to ... 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
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
Switzerland vs A GmbH und B GmbH, August 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_1116/2018

Switzerland vs A GmbH und B GmbH, August 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_1116/2018

Two Swiss companies, A GmbH und B GmbH, belonged to a multinational group under a Dutch parent. The group provided food and fuel to military troops and civilian in areas of crises and armed conflicts. A group company located in the United Arab Emirates provided services to the Swiss companies primarily in relation to activities in Afghanistan. A GmbH und B GmbH had a permanent establishment in Afghanistan. As there are no tax treaties between Switzerland and Afghanistan, for Swiss tax purposes the allocation of income between the two companies and the permanent establishment in Afghanistan was governed by Swiss domestic law. A tax assessment was issued by the authorities which was brought to the Swiss courts by the companies. In 2018 the case ended up in the Swiss Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that according to Swiss law, the profit allocation has to ... Continue to full case
Zimbabwe vs LCF Zimbabwe LTD, March 2020, Special Court for Income Tax Appeals, Case No. HH 227-20

Zimbabwe vs LCF Zimbabwe LTD, March 2020, Special Court for Income Tax Appeals, Case No. HH 227-20

LCF Zimbabwe LTD manufactures cement and similar products from limestone extracted at a mine in Zimbabwe. It also manufactures adhesives and adhesive paints and decorative paints, construction chemicals and agricultural lime. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of a large European group, which manufactures and sells building and construction materials. The issues in this case concerned tax deductibility of “master branding fees”, consumable spare parts not utilised at the tax year end, quarry overburden expenses and computer software. Furthermore there were also the question of levying penalties. Judgement of the Tax Court The Court decided in favour of the tax authorities. Excerpts: “The corollary to the finding of indivisibility is that the disallowance by the Commissioner of the 1.5% master branding fees of US$ 863 252.70 in the 2012 tax year and US$ 1 140 000 in the 2013 tax year was correct while the ... Continue to full case
Italy vs "Lender" SpA, February 2020, Regional Tax Tribunal for Umbria, Case No 18/02/2020 n. 56

Italy vs “Lender” SpA, February 2020, Regional Tax Tribunal for Umbria, Case No 18/02/2020 n. 56

An Italian parent company “Lender SpA” had granted interest free loans to foreign subsidiaries. Lender SpA had also paid subsidiaries for services rendered. The Italian tax authorities held that interest should be paid on the loans and that the company had not sufficiently demonstrated the conditions to justify the deductibility of costs of services. The regional Court found in favor of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of Lender SpA. “For these loans, which took place on the initiative of the Managing Director and in the absence of a resolution of the Shareholders’ Meeting, the Company partly used its available liquidity and partly resorted to the credit market. In this situation, contrary to what was claimed by the company xxxxx, the principle established by the aforementioned art. 110, paragraph 7 of the Consolidated Income Tax Act should have been applied and, therefore, the Italian ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Rohm and Haas Italia s.r.l, Febuary 2020, Supreme Court Case No 3599 13/02/2020

Italy vs Rohm and Haas Italia s.r.l, Febuary 2020, Supreme Court Case No 3599 13/02/2020

At issue was deduction of VAT on purported costs incurred for intra-group services, which had been deemed non-deductible for tax as well as VAT purposes by the Italien Tax Authorities, as the taxpayer had not been able to prove the effectiveness and relevance of these services. The Supreme Court found that in order for intra-group cost to be deductible (and VAT deductible) taxpayer must prove that, a real service have been received which is objectively determinable and adequately documented. This burden of proof had not been lifted by the taxpayer and VAT payments on the purported services were consequently non-deductible. Click here for English translation Sentenza Cassazione Civile n. 3599 del 13022020 ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs. ACTRAD s.r.o., February 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, No. 7 Afs 176/2019 - 26

Czech Republic vs. ACTRAD s.r.o., February 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, No. 7 Afs 176/2019 – 26

The issue in this case was the pricing of advertising services acquired by ACTRAD s.r.o. from related parties PRESSTEX PRINT and PRESSTEX MEDIA . According to the authorities ACTRAD instead of acquiring advertising and promotional services directly from the sports clubs (which was possible), used the services of intermediaries PRESSTEX PRINT and PRESSTEX MEDIA, who increased the price of the services provided significantly (290, 229 and 102 times), without adding any value to the transaction. The final price paid for the advertisement thus increased 290 times in 2011, 229 times in the first half of 2012 and 102 times in the second half of 2012 compared to the initial invoice. This increase occurred while the content, scope and form of the services remained unchanged. The result of the arrangement was a reduction in the tax bases of ACTRAD s.r.o. The tax authorities issued an assessment ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs Swiss Investment AG, February 2020, Administrative Court Zurich, Case No SB.2018.00094 and SB.2018.00095

Switzerland vs Swiss Investment AG, February 2020, Administrative Court Zurich, Case No SB.2018.00094 and SB.2018.00095

Two Swiss investors had established a structure for the management of a private equity fund in the form of a Swiss “Investment Advisor” AG and a Jersey “Investment Mananger” Ltd. They each held 50% of the shares in the Swiss AG and 50% of the shares in the Jersey Ltd. Swiss AG and Jersey Ltd then entered an investment advisory agreement whereby the Swiss AG carried out all advisory activities on behalf of Jersey Ltd and Jersey Ltd assumed all the risk of the investments. Both investors were employed by Swiss AG and Jersey Ltd had no employees execpt two directors who each received a yearly payment of CFH 15,000. According to the investment advisory agreement Jersey Ltd would remunerate the Swiss AG with 66% of the gross fee income. The Swiss AG would carry out all relevant functions related to investment advisory and recommend ... Continue to full case
Poland vs Shared Service Center, February 2020, Administrative Court, SA/PO 935/19

Poland vs Shared Service Center, February 2020, Administrative Court, SA/PO 935/19

A shared service center in Poland both provided intra-group services to the group and in doing so also received and paid for services from other group companies. At issue was payments for the services that the Shared Service Center in Poland received. Under some circumstances intra-group service costs are non-deductible in Poland according to local anti-avoidance provisions aimed at base eroding payments, and according to the tax authorities the payments for intra group services received by the Shared Service Center were non-deductible according to these anti-avoidance provisions. The tax authorities had considered that the payments for the received services were non-deductible according to these provisions. Court decision Service costs that are directly connected with provision of services that generate income, and are included in the base for remuneration of the services provided are deductable and thus not covered by the non-deduction provisions. The Company’s revenues ... 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
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