Category: Transfer Pricing News

Transfer pricing news have recent information on disputes and settelments, hearings and investigations, and developments in guidelines and approaches to transfer pricing issues.

Airbnb under examination by the Internal Revenue Service for 2013 and 2016

Airbnb under examination by the Internal Revenue Service for 2013 and 2016

Airbnb is under examination by the Internal Revenue Service for its income taxes in 2013 and 2016, according to the company’s December 2020 SEC filing. According to the filing a draft notice of adjustment from the IRS proposes that the company owes an additional $1.35 billion in taxes plus interest and penalties for the years in question. The assessment is related to valuation of its intellectual property that was transferred to a subsidiary in FY 2013. Airbnb then had had two subsidiaries outside the United States – Airbnb International Holdings Ltd and Airbnb International Unlimited Co – both resident for tax purposes in tax haven Jersey. The company plans to fight a potential adjustment. “We disagree with the proposed adjustment and intend to vigorously contest it,” “If the IRS prevails in the assessment of additional tax due based on its position and such tax and related ... Continue to full case
Diageo - British multinational beverage and alcohol group - is facing various tax challenges

Diageo – British multinational beverage and alcohol group – is facing various tax challenges

Diageo (British multinational beverage and alcohol group – owner of numerus brands including Jonny Walker, Captain Morgan, Gordons Gin, Smirnoff and Guinness) is facing difficult tax challenges according to the group’s August 2020 SEC-filings. During 2017 Diageo was in discussions with UK tax authorities to seek clarity on Diageo’s transfer pricing and related issues, and in the first half of the year ending 30 June 2018 a preliminary assessment for diverted profits tax notice was issued. Final charging notices were issued in August 2017 and Diageo paid £107 million in respect of the two years ended 30 June 2016.  In June 2018 an agreement was reached with UK tax authorities that diverted profits tax does not apply the Diageo and at the same time a resolution was reached on the transfer pricing issues being discussed. The agreement in respect of transfer pricing covers the period from ... Continue to full case
OECD Guidance on the transfer pricing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

OECD Guidance on the transfer pricing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

Unique economic conditions arising from COVID-19 and government responses to the pandemic have led to practical challenges for the application of the arm’s length principle. For taxpayers applying transfer pricing rules for the financial years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and for tax administrations that will be evaluating this application, there is an urgent need to address these practical questions. The OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations 2017 (“OECD TPG”) are intended to help tax administrations and multinational enterprises (“MNEs”) find mutually satisfactory solutions to transfer pricing cases and should continue to be relied upon when performing a transfer pricing analysis, including under the possibly unique circumstances introduced by the pandemic. Accordingly, guidance have been issued focusing on how the arm’s length principle and the OECD TPG apply to issues that may arise or be exacerbated in the context of the ... Continue to full case
AXA S.A. issued an income assessment of EUR 130 million by the French tax authorities

AXA S.A. issued an income assessment of EUR 130 million by the French tax authorities

Insurance group AXA S.A. is now paying back millions of euros in taxes after French tax authorities found that a Luxembourg-based structure had been used by the group for tax avoidance. According to the French tax authorities AXE S.A. had undeclared taxable profits of at least 130 million in FY 2005 and 2010.    The scheme involved use of a group entity in Luxembourg granting loans to AXA’s foreign subsidiaries. The entity in Luxembourg benefited from a tax ruling issued by Luxembourg’s authorities that allowed it to be tax-exempt. According to AXA the tax laws of France and Luxembourg were fully respected and the group is confident regarding the outcome of this process and will keep collaborating with fiscal authorities to assert its rights ... Continue to full case
Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

According to investigations by SOMO – an independent center for Research on Multinational Corporations – the annual accounts of Pharma Group Qiagen shows that the group has avoided tax on profits by passing internal loans through an elaborate network of letterbox companies in European tax havens including Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta. It is estimated that, since 2010, the group has avoided at least  €93 million in taxes and has accumulated tax deduction in an amount of €49 million ... Continue to full case
European Commission vs. Ireland and Apple, September 2020, Appeal of the Judgement of the General Court on the Apple tax State aid case in Ireland

European Commission vs. Ireland and Apple, September 2020, Appeal of the Judgement of the General Court on the Apple tax State aid case in Ireland

The European Commission has decided to appeal the decision of the EU General Court in the State Aid case of Apple and Ireland. According to the European Commission Ireland gave illegal tax benefits to Apple worth up to €13 billion, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. In a decision issued july 2020 the General Court held in favor of Apple and Ireland. This decision will now be reviewed by the European Court of Justice. “Statement by Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager on the Commission’s decision to appeal the General Court’s judgment on the Apple tax State aid case in Ireland Brussels, 25 September 2020 “The Commission has decided to appeal before the European Court of Justice the General Court’s judgment of July 2020 on the Apple State aid case in Ireland, which annulled the Commission’s decision of August 2016 finding ... Continue to full case
Facebook France has agreed to pay 106 million euros in back taxes and penalties

Facebook France has agreed to pay 106 million euros in back taxes and penalties

The agreement, according to which Facebook France will pay 106 million euros in back taxes and penalties, was reached after French tax authorities had carried out an extensive audit covering FY 2009-2018. Furthermore, Facebook’s French revenues were increased last year after the company decided to include advertising income from French companies in its local accounts, instead of declaring them in Ireland, where Facebook’s international operations are based. As a result, Facebook will pay 8.4 million euros in taxes in France this year – 50% more than last year. These changes are likely the result of efforts from the French government to have global online businesses pay more taxes locally ... Continue to full case
Korean tax authorities investigates Starbucks' pricing of coffee beans

Korean tax authorities investigates Starbucks’ pricing of coffee beans

Starbucks Korea is now being investigated for overpricing goods and services imported from abroad. Officials from the National Tax Service have seized accounting records and data held at Starbucks’ Korean head office in Seoul. Subject of the investigation is transfer pricing of coffee beans and others products for sale at its more than 1,370 local shops. In 2019 Starbucks Korea reported sales of over 1.87 trillion won ($1.53 billion) and net profits of 132.8 billion won ... Continue to full case
US Investigations into Digital Service Taxes

US Investigations into Digital Service Taxes

Washington, DC – The United States Trade Representative announced today that his office is beginning investigations into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are being considered by a number of our trading partners. The investigations will be conducted under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act. This provision gives the USTR broad authority to investigate and respond to a foreign country’s action which may be unfair or discriminatory and negatively affect U.S. Commerce. “President Trump is concerned that many of our trading partners are adopting tax schemes designed to unfairly target our companies,” said USTR Robert Lighthizer. “We are prepared to take all appropriate action to defend our businesses and workers against any such discrimination.” US probe dig eco ... Continue to full case

Mining Group Rio Tinto in new $86 million Dispute with ATO over pricing of Aluminium

In March 2020 the Australian Taxation Office issued an tax assessment regarding transfer pricing to Rio Tinto’s aluminium division according to which additional taxes in an amount of $86.1 million must be paid for fiscal years 2010 – 2016. According to the assessment Rio’s Australian subsidiaries did not charge an arm’s length price for the aluminium they sold to Rio’s Singapore marketing hub. This new aluminum case is separate to Rio’s long-running $447 million dispute with the ATO over the transfer pricing of Australian iron ore. Rio intents to object to the ATO’s aluminium claim and states that the pricing of iron ore and aluminium has been determined in accordance with the OECD guidelines and Australian and Singapore domestic tax laws ... Continue to full case
Fiat Chrysler reaches a EUR 2.5 billion settelment with the Italien tax authorities

Fiat Chrysler reaches a EUR 2.5 billion settelment with the Italien tax authorities

Fiat Chrysler has reached a settlement with the Italian tax agency over taxable gains related to a transfer of the U.S. Chrysler business from Fiat SpA Italy to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (Netherlands). The Italian tax agency claimed that the value of the U.S. Chrysler business had been underestimated and issued a preliminary assessment with an additional taxable gain of 5.1 billion euros. The agency had valued Chrysler at 12.5 billion euros, while Fiat SpA had declared it to be worth less than 7.5 billion. Under the terms of the latter settlement the additional taxable gain has agreed at 2.5 billion euros ... Continue to full case

Altera asking the US Supreme Court for a judicial review of the 2019 Decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals concerning the validity of IRS regs. on CCAs

Altera has asked the US Supreme Court for a judicial review of the Decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over the validity of Internal Revenue Service regulations  that requires related companies to share the cost of stock-based employee compensation when shifting their intangible assets abroad applying US Cost Sharing regulations. In the decision a divided panel in the Court of Appeal upheld the regulation as “permissible” and therefore entitled to deference under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). In the Petition Altera presents three questions: 1. Whether the Treasury Department’s regulation is arbitrary and capricious and thus invalid under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. 2. Whether, under SEC v. Chenery Corp., 332 U.S. 194 (1947), the regulation may be upheld on a rationale the agency never advanced during rulemaking ... Continue to full case
New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

Today, the OECD has released the report Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions. The guidance in the report describes the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions and includes a number of examples to illustrate the principles discussed in the report. Section B provides guidance on the application of the principles contained in Section D.1 of Chapter I of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to financial transactions. In particular, Section B.1 of this report elaborates on how the accurate delineation analysis under Chapter I applies to the capital structure of an MNE within an MNE group. It also clarifies that the guidance included in that section does not prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under their domestic legislation. Section B.2 outlines the economically relevant characteristics that inform the analysis of the terms and conditions of financial transactions. Sections C, D ... Continue to full case
Google - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google’s tax affairs are back in the spotlight after filings in the Netherlands have showed that billions of dollars were moved to Bermuda in 2016 using the “double Irish Dutch sandwich”. According to the Washington Post, Google’s cash transfers to Bermuda reached $27b in 2016. Google uses the double Irish Dutch sandwich structure to shield the majority of it’s international profits from taxation. The setup involves shifting revenue from one Irish subsidiary to a Dutch company with no employees, and then on to a Bermuda-mailbox owned by another company registered in Ireland. US According to US filings, Google’s global effective tax rate in 2016 was 19.3%. New US tax law will give companies such as Google an incentive to repatriate much of that cash by offering them a “one-time”, 15.5% tax rate on offshore funds. After that, foreign earnings will be taxed at 10.5%, with ... Continue to full case
Malaysian Energy Group - TENAGA Nasional Bhd - has been issued a RM 4.000.000.000 tax bill by the Revenue Board of Malaysia

Malaysian Energy Group – TENAGA Nasional Bhd – has been issued a RM 4.000.000.000 tax bill by the Revenue Board of Malaysia

Malaysian Energy Group – TENAGA Nasional Bhd – has begun legal proceedings against the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia. In November 2019, the Inland Revenue Board issued a tax assessment  according to which taxes of RM3.98 bil (or USD 1 billion) is owed for years 2015-2017. After reciving the assessment, TENAGA responded “Based on the legal advice obtained from our tax solicitors, TNB has a good basis to contend that there is no legal and factual basis for IRB to issue the said notices”  “Accordingly, TNB will be appealing against the said notices.” The High Court has now granted an interim stay of all further proceedings including the enforcement of the notices until the hearing of the leave application on April 2, 2020. In a prior case back from 2015 TENAGA received notices for the years of assessment 2013 and 2014 amounting to RM2.07 bil. Back then, ... Continue to full case
Unilateral Measures related to taxation of the Digital Economy

Unilateral Measures related to taxation of the Digital Economy

Imposed and proposed unilateral measures to adress taxation of the Digital Economy CountryMeasurePercentageDecriptionEffective data Czech Republic DST (Law on selected digital services tax)The Czech Ministry of Finance submitted a finalized proposal to the Czech Government on Sept. 5, 2019, which is now pending the Czech Parliament’s approval. Effective date: to be determined, but likely sometime in 2020. January 18 - The Czech government approved a 7% digital tax proposal on Monday aimed at boosting state coffers by taxing advertising by global internet giants like Google and Facebook, the Finance Ministry said. The proposed tax, which still must make it past lawmakers in parliament, covers revenue gained from targeted advertising, providing digital market places, and user data sales.? 2020 FranceDST (Tax on certain services provided by the enterprises of the digital sector)Enacted on July 11, 2019, and entered into force on July 26, 2019. Retroactive from ... Continue to full case
Microsoft - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities all over the World during the last decade. Why? The setup used by Microsoft involves shifting profits from sales in the US, Europe and Asia to regional operating centers placed in low tax jurisdictions (Bermuda, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico). The following text has been provided by Microsoft in a US filing concerning effective tax and global allocation of income: “Our effective tax rate for the three months ended September 30, 2017 and 2016 was 18% and 17%, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.“ “In fiscal year 2017, our U.S. income before income taxes was $6.8 ... Continue to full case
US response to OECDs Unified Approach

US response to OECDs Unified Approach

Letter from the US treasury to the OECD concerning the proposed Unified Approach on taxation of the Digital Economy, and the reply to the letter from the OECD. treasury-letter-oecd-digital-services-tax Letter-from-OECD-Secretary-General-Angel-Gurria-for-the-attention-of-The-Honorable-Steven-T-Mnuchin-Secretary-of-the-Treasury-United-States ... Continue to full case
Netflix under investigation for alleged tax evasion in Italy

Netflix under investigation for alleged tax evasion in Italy

Public prosecutors in Italy have opened a preliminary probe into the taxation of Netflix on the basis that servers and cables constitute a digital infrastructure that makes revenues taxable under Italian law. Italian media, Corriere della Sera, says that the prosecutors are working with Italy’s fiscal police to determine whether revenues from Netflix’s estimated 1.4 million Italian subscribers are subject to Italian taxation, even though Netflix operates out of the Netherlands. Italian prosecutors have recently also probed into the taxation of other U.S. tech giants such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook and collected a reported €5 billion-plus in back taxes. “Netflix does not pay taxes” the investigation in Milan starts. However, unlike the previous cases, Netflix have no companies, offices or employees in Italy. But still, Netflix earns millions selling streaming services to Italian customers. According to the prosecutor cables, fiber optics, computers, servers and ... Continue to full case
British American Tobacco hit by £902 million tax assessments in the Netherlands

British American Tobacco hit by £902 million tax assessments in the Netherlands

According to the 2018 financial statement, British American Tobacco group has been hit by a £902 million tax assessments in the Netherlands. “The Dutch tax authority has issued a number of assessments on various issues across the years 2003-2016 in relation to various intra-group transactions. The assessments amount to an  aggregate net liability across these periods of £902 million covering tax, interest and penalties. The Group has appealed against the assessments in full. The Group believes that its companies have meritorious defences in law and fact in each of the above matters and intends to pursue each dispute through the judicial system as necessary. The Group does not consider it appropriate to make provision for these amounts nor for any potential further amounts which may be assessed in relation to these matters in subsequent years. While the amounts that may be payable or receivable in relation to tax disputes ... Continue to full case