Czech Republic vs Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o., October 2019, Regional Court, Case No 15 Af 105/2015

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Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. is a subsidiary within the Japanese Aisan Industry Group which manufactures various engine components – fuel-pump modules, throttle bodies, carburetors for independent car manufactures such as Renault and Toyota. According to the original transfer pricing documentation the Czech company was classified as a limited risk contract manufacturer within the group, but yet it had suffered operating losses for several years.

Following a tax audit an assessment was issued resulting in additional corporate income tax for FY 2011 in the amount of CZK 11 897 090, and on top of that a penalty in the amount of CZK 2 379 418. The assessment resulted from application of arm’s length provisions where the profitability of Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. had been determined on the basis of the profitability of comparable companies – TNMM method.

An appeal was filed by Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. with the Regional Court.

Judgement of the Regional Court

The court dismissed the appeal and upheld the assessment of the tax authorities.

In its decision the Regional Court concluded that Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. should have been compensated for carrying out manufacturing services to the benefit of the multinational Aisan Industry group. The court also concluded that Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. was in fact a contract manufacturer – as stated in the original transfer pricing documentation – and not a full-fledged manufacturer as stated in the later “updated” transfer pricing report in which the FAR profile of the company had been significantly altered after receiving the initial assessment.

According to the Regional Court, it had been established that the price of the service negotiated between the Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. and its parent company Aisan Industry Co., Ltd. was different from the price that would have been negotiated between independent parties under the same commercial conditions. By selling products to related and unrelated parties at prices determined by the group, Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. did not even achieve a minimum level of operating profitability. In FY 2011 Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. had a negative profit margin of 3,27 %. According to the court Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o. should have received a remuneration of CZK 61 080 700 from the Aisan group for the manufacturing services, i.e. the difference between the operating margin it would have achieved at at arm’s length, 1,26 % (the minimum of the profit margin of comparable entities), and the profits it had actually achieved -3.27 %.

According to the Regional Court, it was not the pricing of the individual products that was relevant, but rather the overall set-up of Aisan Industry Czech, s.r.o.’s operation within the Aisan group as a contract manufacturer bearing disproportionate risks which were not compensated. Therefore it was not appropriate to set a reference price and analyse the individual transactions since the involvement in the group distorted both transactions with related and unrelated parties, as all the prices had been determined by other group entities.

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