German draft-legislation on application of the arm’s length principle to cross-border relocation of functions

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On 5 July 2022, the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany published draft legislation regarding application of the arm’s length principle to cross-border relocation of functions.

According to the general provisions

  • A function is a business activity that consists of a grouping of similar operational tasks performed by specific units or departments of an enterprise. It is an organic part of an enterprise, without the need for a sub-operation in the tax sense.
  • A transfer of functions within the meaning of section 1(3b) of the Foreign Tax Act occurs if a function, including the associated opportunities and risks as well as any assets or other benefits that may have been transferred or left along with it, is transferred or left in whole or in part so that the acquiring company can perform this function or expand an existing function. The function transferred as a whole in accordance with sentence 1 constitutes the transfer package. Business transactions that are realised within five business years shall be combined as a single transfer of function at the time when the requirements of sentence 1 are economically fulfilled by their joint realisation.
  • In cases of transfer of functions, intangible assets are essential within the meaning of section 1(3b) sentence 2 of the Foreign Tax Act if they are necessary for the transferred function and their arm’s length price amounts in total to more than 25 per cent of the sum of the individual prices of all assets and other benefits of the transfer package and this is credible, taking into account the effects of the transfer of function, which are evident from the records within the meaning of section 2 sentence 2.
  • If an acquiring enterprise independently provides the services previously provided exclusively to the transferring enterprise, in whole or in part, to other enterprises at prices which are higher than the remuneration according to the cost-plus method or which are to be set higher in accordance with the arm’s length principle, a remuneration in accordance with 2 shall be charged to the other enterprises at the time of the first provision for assets and other advantages previously provided free of charge by the transferring enterprise for the provision of services; the assets or other benefits in question shall be deemed to be a transfer package, provided that the other requirements for this are met.
  • A transfer of functions within the meaning of paragraph 2 shall not be deemed to have taken place if there is no restriction on the exercise of the function in question at the transferring company within five years of the assumption of the function by the acquiring company, although the other requirements of paragraph 2, sentence 1 are met (duplication of functions). If such a restriction occurs within this period, a transfer of functions shall be deemed to have taken place at the time when the restriction occurs, unless the taxpayer proves that this restriction is not directly related to the duplication of functions.

The legislation will apply retrospectively to covered transactions after 31 December 2021.


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