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.

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
Spain vs Comeresa Prensa S.L.U., September 2021, Audiencia Nacional, Case No SAN 3857/2021 - ECLI:ES:AN:2021:3857

Spain vs Comeresa Prensa S.L.U., September 2021, Audiencia Nacional, Case No SAN 3857/2021 – ECLI:ES:AN:2021:3857

VOCENTO, S.A. is the parent company of a multinational publishing group. The registered office of VOCENTO, S.A. is in Bizkaia and it is subject to the regulations of this Territory regarding Corporate Income Tax. COMERESA PRENSA, S.L.U. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of VOCENTO and holds most of the shares in regional press publishing companies held by the Group of which VOCENTO, S.A. is the parent company, with the exception of the publishing companies with registered offices in the territories of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. In 2015, COMERESA PRENSA, S.L.U. was issued a tax assessment related to pricing of intra-group services. According to the tax authorities Comeresa Prensa had provided certain services to its parent companies -directly and indirectly- for no consideration whatsoever. Judgement of the Audiencia Nacional The decision of the tax authorities was set aside on formal grounds. “It is appropriate ... Continue to full case
Italy vs NEOPOST ITALIA s.r.l. (QUADIENT ITALY s.r.l.), September 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 25025/2021

Italy vs NEOPOST ITALIA s.r.l. (QUADIENT ITALY s.r.l.), September 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 25025/2021

Neopost Italia s.r.l. had paid service fees and royalties to its French parent. Following an audit, deductions for these intra-group transactions was adjusted by the tax authorities due to non compliance with the arm’s length principle and lack of documentation. However, for the purpose of determining an arm’s length remuneration a benchmark study had been performed by the tax authorities in which one of the comparables was not independent. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and remanded the case to the court of first instance. In regards to the comparable company in the benchmark that was not independent, the Supreme Court found that: “it is entirely arbitrary, in comparing the two companies, to assert that the price charged by one of the two ... Continue to full case
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
Netherlands vs "Related Party B.V.", July 2021, District Court, Case No ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2021:3382

Netherlands vs “Related Party B.V.”, July 2021, District Court, Case No ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2021:3382

In 2013 “Related Party B.V” entered into an agreement with “X BV” for the provision of transportation- and support services for oil and gas. The Dutch tax authority suspected that the parties were affiliated within the meaning of Section 8b of the Corporate Income Tax Act 1969. Decision of Court The Court decided in favor of the tax authority. Based on the documents in the case, the tax authority rightly suspected that there was an affiliation within the meaning of Section 8b of the Corporate Income Tax Act. The tax authority was therefore entitled to reasonably issue information decisions for the Vpb for 2013 to 2016 inclusive. Nemo Tenetur Principle – self incrimination “Related Party B.V” argued that it’s right not to incriminate itself had been violated because the information decision(s) had been issued to examine the possibility of imposing a fine. In this regard, ... 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

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
India vs Sabic India Pvt Ltd, June 2021, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal - Delhi, ITA No.454/Del/2021

India vs Sabic India Pvt Ltd, June 2021, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – Delhi, ITA No.454/Del/2021

Sabic India Pvt Ltd was primarily engaged in providing marketing support services to facilitate the selling of fertilizers and chemicals in India on behalf of the Sabic Group holding company. The Indian company did not hold any title to inventories and all products sold were directly invoiced to the holding companies of the taxpayer. To determine the arm’s length remuneration for marketing support services Sabic India Pvt Ltd found that the TNMM was the most appropriate method The tax authorities disagreed and instead held that the CUP method was more appropriate. On that basis an assessment was issued. Judgement of the Tax Appellate Tribunal The Tribunal decided in favor of Sabic India Pvt Ltd and set aside the tax assessment. The Tribunal held that the TNMM cannot be discarded without any valid justification as the method was widely accepted by the Indian revenue since 2009 ... Continue to full case
Russia vs PJSC Vimpelcom-Communications, May 2021, Arbitration Court of Moscow, Case No. A40-36350/21-140-1024

Russia vs PJSC Vimpelcom-Communications, May 2021, Arbitration Court of Moscow, Case No. A40-36350/21-140-1024

PJSC Vimpelcom-Communications submitted to the tax authority a revised notice of controlled transactions for 2017, under which contract numbers for 68 transactions were adjusted, including an agreement with a foreign counterparty Veon Wholensale Services B.V. (Netherlands) for the provision of agency-services (the “Controlled Transactions”), and information was also provided on another transaction with another foreign counterparty. Based on the revised notification, the Russian Tax Authorities issued a decision on 29 December 2020 to conduct an audit with respect to pricing of the Company’s Controlled Transactions for 2017. The Company held that the tax authority’s decision as unlawful. The Company insisted that the Russian Tax Authorities had missed the two-year deadline for issuing a decision on the appointment of an audit, and therefore lost its right to conduct a price audit in respect of the 2017-transactions in question. Judgement of the Arbitration Court The court dismissed ... Continue to full case
Greece vs X Ltd., May 2021, Court, Case No 1674

Greece vs X Ltd., May 2021, Court, Case No 1674

This case deals with arm’s length pricing of limited risk manufacturing services. Following an audit of the X Ltd, the prices paid to a foreign manufacturer in the group was determined by the Grees tax authorities to have been above the arm’s length price. On that basis an upwards adjustment of the taxable income of X Ltd. was issued. Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal of the X Ltd. Since the audit findings as recorded in the partial income tax audit report of the Head of the C.E.M.E.P. dated 08/07/2020 are found to be valid, thorough and fully substantiated, the present appeal must be dismissed. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation gr-ded-2021-1674_en_ath-1674_2021 ... 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
Switzerland vs "A AG", May 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_548/2020, 2C_551/2020

Switzerland vs “A AG”, May 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_548/2020, 2C_551/2020

Intra group services (treasury, administration, accounting etc) were performed and charged to a Swiss resident A AG. The payment for these services had been determined by application of the CUP method. The tax authorities found that the payment for the services had been to high and instead applied a cost-plus method which resulted in lower service fees. Judgement of the Supreme Court The court decided in favor of the tax authorities. A cost-plus method was more appropriate as The taxpayer had been unable to provide evidence of any third party pricing of comparable services The services provided were of a low-value-adding nature, for which the cost-plus method is more appropriate. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation Swiss SC case no 2c-548-2020 May 2021 ... 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
Norway vs New Wave Norway AS, March 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2020-10664

Norway vs New Wave Norway AS, March 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2020-10664

New Wave Norway AS is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swedish New Wave Group AB. The group operates in the wholesale market for sports and workwear and gift and promotional items. It owns trademark rights to several well-known brands. The sales companies – including New Wave Norway AS – pay a concept fee to New Wave Group AB, which passes on the fee to the concept-owning companies in the Group. All trademark rights owned by the group are located in a separate company, New Wave Group Licensing SA, domiciled in Switzerland. For the use of the trademarks, the sales companies pay royalties to this company. There is also a separate company that handles purchasing and negotiations with the Asian producers, New Wave Group SA, also based in Switzerland. For the purchasing services from this company, the sales companies pay a purchasing fee (“sourcing fee”) ... 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