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.

Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

A Danish parent in the Maersk group’s oil and gas segment, Maersk Oil and Gas A/S (Mogas), had operating losses for FY 1986 to 2010, although the combined segment was highly profitable. The reoccurring losses was explained by the tax authorities as being a result of the group’s transfer pricing setup. “Mogas and its subsidiaries and branches are covered by the definition of persons in Article 2(1) of the Tax Act, which concerns group companies and permanent establishments abroad, it being irrelevant whether the subsidiaries and branches form part of local joint ventures. Mogas bears the costs of exploration and studies into the possibility of obtaining mining licences. The expenditure is incurred in the course of the company’s business of exploring for oil and gas deposits. The company is entitled to deduct the costs in accordance with Section 8B(2) of the Danish Income Tax Act ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

In 2009-2011 Fortis Petroleum Norway AS (FPN) bought seismic data related to oil exploration in the North Sea from a related party, Petroleum GeoServices AS (PGS), for NKR 95.000.000. FBN paid the amount by way of a convertible intra-group loan from PGS in the same amount. FPN also purchased administrative services from another related party, Consema, and later paid a substantial termination fee when the service contract was terminated. The acquisition costs, interest on the loan, costs for services and termination fees had all been deducted in the taxable income of the company for the years in question. Central to this case is the exploration refund scheme on the Norwegian shelf. This essentially means that exploration companies can demand cash payment of the tax value of exploration costs, cf. the Petroleum Tax Act § 3 letter c) fifth paragraph. If the taxpayer does not have ... Continue to full case
Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

In 2011 Samsung signed the contract with Microsoft for use of software-patent in Android-based smartphone and tablets, and for the years 2012-2015 Samsung paid royalties to a Microsoft subsidiary, MS Licensing GP, while saving 15 percent for withholding tax. The royalties paid by Samsung to Microsoft during these years amounted to 4.35 trillion won, of which 15%, or 653.7 billion won, was paid as withholding tax. In June 2016, Microsoft filed a claim for a tax refund in a amount of 634 billion won with the Tax Office. According to Microsoft royalty paid for patent rights not registered in Korea is not domestic source income, and should not be subject to withholding tax. The request was refused by the tax authorities. Microsoft then filed a lawsuit against the tax authorities in 2017. Microsoft argued that the withholding tax imposed on income from a patent unregistered ... Continue to full case
France vs Rayonnages de France, February 2022, CAA of Douai, No 19DA01682

France vs Rayonnages de France, February 2022, CAA of Douai, No 19DA01682

Rayonnages de France paid royalties and management fees to a related Portuguese company. Following an audit for FY 2010 – 2012 the French tax authorities denied tax deductions for the payments by reference to the the arm’s length principle. The court of first instance decided in favor of the tax authorities and Rayonnages de France then filed an appeal with the CAA of Douai. Judgement of the CAA The Court of appeal upheld the decision of the court of first instance and decided in favor of the tax authorities. Excerpt “However, as the Minister points out, in order to be eligible for deduction, the management services invoiced by VJ Trans.Fer to SARL Rayonnages de France must necessarily cover tasks distinct from those relating to the day-to-day management of the latter company, which were the responsibility of Mr B. as statutory manager of SARL Rayonnages de ... Continue to full case
Spain vs Narcea Producciones y Promociones S.L., January 2022, Tribunal Superior, Case No STSJ M 122/2022 - ECLI:ES:TSJM:2022:122

Spain vs Narcea Producciones y Promociones S.L., January 2022, Tribunal Superior, Case No STSJ M 122/2022 – ECLI:ES:TSJM:2022:122

Narcea Producciones y Promociones SL managed the economic rights, representation commissions and the image and TV rights of a football player. The image and TV rights were transferred to a related party free of charge. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where profits from the transfer had been added to the taxable income based on the arm’s length principle. Not satisfied with this decision Narcea Producciones y Promociones, S.L. filed an appeal. Judgement of the Tribunal Superior The Tribunal Superior dismissed the appeal and decided in favor of the tax authorities. Excerpts: “In accordance with Article 16.1.1 and 2 and 4.1.a) of the TRLIS, related-party transactions shall be valued at market price between independent parties in conditions of free competition and this allows the tax authorities to check this valuation and make the corresponding valuation corrections with regard to transactions subject to ... 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
Italy vs "VAT ALFA S.p.A.", December 2021, Tax Ruling of the Italian Revenue Agency, Case No 884/2021

Italy vs “VAT ALFA S.p.A.”, December 2021, Tax Ruling of the Italian Revenue Agency, Case No 884/2021

A ruling was issued by the Italian Revenue Service on the following question on the VAT treatment of Transfer Pricing adjustments. 1) an internal CUP (Compared Uncontrolled Price) methodology is used, on the basis of which, net of appropriate adjustments, the price of goods charged by ALFA S.p.A. to its EU affiliates is compared with the price applied by the same company in transactions with independent third parties. The adjustments applied to the price identified by the CUP method, as clarified by the same applicant in the note forwarded at the time of submitting the supplementary documentation, consist of a discount of XX on the price of finished products that can be applied to independent third parties; this last reduction would be attributable to the higher costs borne by the subsidiaries compared to third party resellers; 2) at the end of the year, a corroborative ... 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
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
Colombia vs Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A., September 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 24282

Colombia vs Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A., September 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 24282

Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A. paid it foreign parent for cost related to exploration and administrative services, and for tax purposes these costs had been deducted in the taxable income. In total $3,571,353,600 had been declared as operating expenses for geological and geophysical studies carried out in the exploratory phase of an oil project and $5.548.680.347 had been declared for administrative services rendered from its parent company abroad Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment where these deductions was denied. In regards of cost related to exploration, these should have been recorded as a deferred charge amortisable over up to five years, according to articles 142 and 143 of the Tax Statute. In accordance with Article 142, these investments are recorded as deferred assets and are also declared for tax purposes. (…) According to the general accounting regulations – Decree 2649 of ... Continue to full case
Brazil vs AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A, August 2021, Superior Tribunal de Justiça, CaseNº 1949159 - CE (2021/0219630-6)

Brazil vs AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A, August 2021, Superior Tribunal de Justiça, CaseNº 1949159 – CE (2021/0219630-6)

AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A is active in footwear industry. It had paid for services to related foreign companies in South Africa, Argentina, Canada, China, South Korea, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal and Turkey. The tax authorities were of the opinion that withholding tax applied to these payments, which they considered royalty, and on that basis an assessment was issued. Not satisfied with this assessment AES filed an appeal, which was allowed by the court of first instance. An appeal was then filed by the tax authorities with the Superior Tribunal. Judgement of the Superior Tribunal de Justiça The court upheld the decision of the court of first instance and dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities. Excerpts “Therefore, the income from the rendering of services paid to residents or domiciled abroad, in the cases dealt with in the records, is ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs D. D. D. SERVIS OPAVA v. o. s., August 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 1 Afs 109/2021 - 67

Czech Republic vs D. D. D. SERVIS OPAVA v. o. s., August 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 1 Afs 109/2021 – 67

Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment of additional income resulting from an adjustment of the tax deductions related to marketing expenses. According to the tax authorities the parties to the transactions were “otherwise related” within the meaning of the Czech arm’s length provisions in § 23 par. b) point 5 of the Income Tax Act. SERVIS OPAVA filed an appeal against the assessment claiming that the tax authorities did not established the existence of a relationship between the parties and therefore had no legal basis for the adjustment. The Regional Administrative Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the tax authorities. An appeal was then filed against this decision with the Supreme Administrative Court Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The court decided in favour of SERVIS OPAVA. The prerequisite for the adjustment of the tax base pursuant to Section ... Continue to full case
Colombia vs SONY Music Entertainment Colombia S.A., July 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 20641

Colombia vs SONY Music Entertainment Colombia S.A., July 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 20641

SONY Music Entertainment Colombia S.A. had filed transfer pricing information and documentation, on the basis of which the Colombian tax authorities concluded that payments for administrative services provided by a related party in the US had not been at arm’s length. SONY Colombia then filed new transfer pricing information and documentation covering the same years, but where the tested party had been changed to the US company. Under this new approach, the remuneration of the US service provider was determined to be within the arm’s length range. The tax authorities upheld the assessment issued based on the original documentation. A complaint was filed by SONY and later an appeal. Judgement of the Administrative Court The court allowed the appeal and issued a decision in favor of SONY. Excerpts “The legal problem is to determine, for the tax return of the taxable period 2007 of the ... 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
Bulgaria vs Central Hydroelectric de Bulgari EOOD, July 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 8331

Bulgaria vs Central Hydroelectric de Bulgari EOOD, July 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 8331

By judgment of 19 January 2021, the Administrative Court upheld an assessment for FY 2012-2017 issued by the tax authorities on the determination of the arm’s length income resulting from related party transactions. The tax assessment resulted from disallowed deductions for Intra group services provided under a general administrative, legal and financial assistance contract of 22 October 2012 Costs invoiced for the preparation of consolidated accounts Expenses related to “Technical services” for which no explanations had been provided An appeal was filed by Central Hydroelectric de Bulgari EOOD with the Supreme Administrative Court in which the company stated that the decision of the Administrative Court was incorrect. Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The Supreme Administrative Court partially upheld the decision of the Administrative Court. Excerpts “The present Court of Cassation finds the judgment of the ACGC valid and admissible. The argument of the applicant ... 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