El Salvador vs “E-S Cosmetics Corp”, December 2020, Tax Court, Case R1701011.TM

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“Cosmetics Corp” is active in wholesale of medicinal products, cosmetics, perfumery and cleaning products.

Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment regarding the interest rate on loans granted to the related parties domiciled in Cayman Islands and Luxembourg.

An appeal was filed by the company.

Judgement of the Tax Court

The court partially upheld the assessment.

“In this sense, it is essential to create a law that contains the guidelines that the OECD has established to guarantee the principle of full competition in transactions carried out between national taxpayers with related companies, for the purpose of applying the technical methods and procedures that they provide; The express reference made by Article 62-A of the TC cannot be considered as a dimension of the principle of relative legal reserve, insofar as there is no full development of the methods or procedures contained therein, nor a reference to an infra-legal rule containing them, but rather a reference that does not have a legal status, i.e. they are not legally binding, but only optional and enunciative to be incorporated into the legal system of each country.
Hence, at no time is the legality of the powers of the Directorate General to determine the market price being questioned, since, as has been indicated, the law itself grants it this power, what is being questioned in the present case is the failure of the Directorate General to observe the procedures and forms determined by law to proceed to establish the market price, by using the OECD Guidelines, which, it is reiterated, for the fiscal year audited, did not have a legal status, nor were they binding, since they were not contained in a formal law; Therefore, even if the appellant itself used them, this situation constitutes a choice of the company itself, for the purpose of carrying out an analysis of its transfer prices, but in no way implies that this mechanism is endorsed by law, the Directorate General being obliged to lead or guide the taxpayer in the application of the regulations in force and adjust its operations to the provisions thereof, and if it considered that there was indeed an impediment to determine the market price, it should have documented it and proceeded in accordance with the provisions of the aforementioned legal provisions, which it did not do.
Finally, it should be clarified that article 192-A of the Tax Code, cited by the DGII at folios 737 of the administrative file, as grounds that the interest rates applied by the appellant were not agreed at market price, is not applicable to the case at hand, inasmuch as it regulates a legal presumption of obtaining income (income) from interest – which admits proof to the contrary – in all money loan contracts of any nature and denomination, in those cases in which this has not been agreed, which shall be calculated by applying the average active interest rate in force on credits or loans to companies applied by the Financial System and published by the ————— on the total amount of the loan; on the other hand, in the present case, as has been shown above, the determination made by the DGII has been through the application of the transfer prices regulated in article 62-A of the TC, which is completely different from the said presumption; in addition to the fact that, as evidenced in folios 82 to 93 and 309 to 314 of the administrative file, the Revolving Credit Line contracts presented by the appellant, entered into with the companies ————— and — ———— contain the clause “Interest Rate”, in which it is established that the interest rate of each loan will be the market rate agreed by the parties, which was 3% for the first company and 1% for the second, which was effectively verified by the DGII both in the accounting records of the appellant, in the loan amortisation tables, as well as in the referred Transfer Pricing Study, as mentioned above.
Consequently, this Court considers that in the present case there has been a violation of the Principles of Legality and Reservation of Law, by virtue of the fact that in the instant case the Directorate General did not follow the procedure established by the legal system in force, and therefore, in issuing the contested act, it acted outside the legally established procedures, and consequently, the decision under appeal, with respect to this point, is not in accordance with the law; it is unnecessary to rule on the other grievances invoked by the appellant in its appeal brief.
The aforementioned is in accordance, as pertinent, with precedents issued by this Tribunal with references R1810029TM, of the eleventh hour of September fourth, two thousand and twenty; R1505018TM, of the thirteenth hour and two minutes of May twenty-seventh, two thousand and nineteen; R1511005TM, dated ten o’clock ten minutes past ten on the thirty-first day of August two thousand and eighteen; R1405013T, dated eleven o’clock five minutes past five on the twentieth day of April of the same year; R1405007TM, dated eleven o’clock five minutes past five on the twenty-seventh day of the same month and year; and, R1704001T, dated eleven o’clock five minutes past five on the twenty-ninth day of May of the aforementioned year.”

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