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.

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. 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
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
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
Malaysia vs Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd, November 2019, High Court, Case No BA 25-68-08/2019

Malaysia vs Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd, November 2019, High Court, Case No BA 25-68-08/2019

The principal activities of Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd in Malaysia is to provide services to related companies within the Shell Group. The company is part of a contractual arrangement for the sharing of services and resources within the Shell Group as provided in a Cost Contribution Arrangement. The tax authorities conducted a transfer pricing audit, and based on the findings, issued a tax assessment for fiscal years 2011 to 2016, where the Cost Contribution Arrangement had been recharacterised as an intra-group services arrangement. The taxable income was adjusted by imposing a markup on the total costs of the company for fiscal years 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Consequently, the company had to pay the additional taxes in the amount of: RM 3,474,978.44; RM 2,559,754.38; RM 7,096,984.69; RM 2,537,458.50; RM 15,669,176.01. The company did not agree with the proposal. The judgement by the High Court only relates to proceedings ... Continue to full case
Zimbabwe vs Delta Beverages LTD, Court Case No HH664-19

Zimbabwe vs Delta Beverages LTD, Court Case No HH664-19

Delta Beverages LTD had been issued a tax assessment where various fees for service, technology license of trademarks, technology and know-how had been disallowed by the tax authorities (Zimra) of Zimbabwe. Among the issues contented by the tax authorities were technical service fees calculated as 1.5 %  of turnover. “The sole witness confirmed the advice proffered to the holding company’s board of directors in the minutes of 17 May 2002 that such an approach was common place across the world. This was confirmed by the approvals granted by exchange control authority to these charges. It was further confirmed by the very detailed 19 page Internal Comparable Analysis Report dated 5 October 2010 conducted by a reputable international firm of chartered  accountants, which was commissioned by the Dutch Company to assess internal compliance with the arm’s length principles in its transfer pricing policy for trademark royalties ... Continue to full case
Spain vs ARW Enterprise Computin Solution SA, September 2019, Tribunal Superior de Justicia, Case No STSJ M 7038/2019 - ECLI: ES:TSJM:2019:7038

Spain vs ARW Enterprise Computin Solution SA, September 2019, Tribunal Superior de Justicia, Case No STSJ M 7038/2019 – ECLI: ES:TSJM:2019:7038

A Spanish subsidiary, ARW Enterprise Computin Solution SA, had deducted intra-group management fees paid according to two service contracts with two french group companies – Distrilogie SA and DCC France Holding SAS. For an expense to be deductible it is required not only that invoice, account, payments have been imputed correctly, but also that the expense have been held for obtaining income and to the direct benefit of the subsidiary. The Spanish tax authorities found, that these requirements had not been sufficiently proved by Computin Solution SA and issued a tax assessment. Click here for translation Spain vs Computin STSJ_M_7038_2019 ... 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
Brazil vs "CCA group", September 2019, COSIT, SC No. 276-2019

Brazil vs “CCA group”, September 2019, COSIT, SC No. 276-2019

In a public ruling, the General Tax Coordination Office in Brazil (COSIT) found that a transaction labled as a “cost sharing agreement” between a foreign group and its Brazilian subsidiary, was in fact a mere agreement for provision of services. COSIT pointed to the key characteristics of cost sharing agreements. These had been listed in a prior ruling from 2012: Segregation of costs and risks inherent in the development, production or acquisition of goods, services or rights; Consistent contribution by each entity with expected and effectively-received benefits by each entity; Identification of the benefit to each participant entity; Mandatory reimbursement of costs incurred with no mark-up; Advantages offered to all participating group entities; and Payments for support activities whether such activities were actually used. < COSIT also pointed to the guidance provided in the 2017 Transfer Pricing Guidelines, Chapter VIII. Click here for translation SC_Cosit_n_276-2019 ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

A Danish subsidiary in the German MAN group was the owner of certain intangible assets. The German parent, acting as an intermediate for the Danish subsidiary, licensed rights in those intangibles to other parties. In 2002-2005, the Danish subsidiary received royalty payments corresponding to the prices agreed between the German parent company and independent parties for use of the intangibles. The group had requested an adjustment of the royalty payments to the Danish subsidiary due to withholding taxes paid on inter-company license fees received by the German Parent. This was rejected by the Danish tax authorities. The Supreme Court found no basis for an adjustment for withholding taxes as the agreed prices between the German parent and the Danish Subsidiary matched the market price paid by independent parties. Click here for translation Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No BS-4280-2019-HJR ... 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
Argentina vs. Nike, June 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No TF 24495-I

Argentina vs. Nike, June 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No TF 24495-I

The tax authorities had partly disallowed amounts deducted by Nike Argentina for three expenses; royalties for use of trademarks and technical assistance, promotional expenses for sponsorship of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and commissions of Nike Inc. for purchasing agents. Issue one and two was dropped during the process and the remaining issue before the tribunal was expenses related to commissions for purchases according to a contract signed between Nike Argentina and Nike Inc. The tax authorities (AFIP) had found that the 7% commission rate paid by Nike Argentina had not been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle. The tax authorities stated that the purchase management services were provided by NIAC, and that Nike Inc.’s participation was merely an intermediary, and therefore it charged a much higher percentage than the one invoiced by the company performing the actual management. The Court of Appeal ruled ... 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
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