Romania vs “Machinery rental” S.C. A. SRL, September 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 4453/2020

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An assessment had been issued where the pricing of intra group rental expenses for machinery had been set aside by the tax authorities for FY 2010-2013.

By an application filed with the Court of Appeal S.C. A. S.R.L. requested the Court for annulment of the assessment issued by the tax authorities.

The Court of Appeal by judgment no. 164 of 31 October 2017, partially partially annulled the assessment.

Unsatisfied with this decision, both parties filed an appeal to the High Court.

S.C. A. S.R.L. considers that the first court misapplied the substantive rules of law applicable to the case with regard to the additional determination of a corporation tax in the amount of RON 56,715 for 2010, with reference to the interpretation of the OECD Guidelines.

Although the expert appointed by the court of first instance correctly established the adjusted margins of trade mark-up for each of the years 2010 to 2013 and the adjusted margins of operating profit for the same period, he erred in finding that, for the purposes of the final calculation, an analysis of the year-by-year comparability of the profitability indicators obtained in the period 2010 to 2013 is required.
The approach is wrong because paragraphs 3.76 and 3.79 of the OECD Guidelines require the elimination of any market influences or gaps that may have an impact on the company, the only correct method being to use multi-year financial data.
The use of this method is intended to minimise the impact of individual factors on comparable entities and the economic environment, as well as temporary economic factors such as the economic crisis.

Judgement of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the court of first instance.

Excerpts

“As regards the method chosen, although the appellant criticises the ‘year-on-year’ comparability method, it does not specifically point out what its shortcomings are, but only why it is necessary to use the method of multi-year or agreed financial data.

The ‘year-on-year’ comparability method was used because it was observed that the adjusted net trading profit margins and adjusted operating profit margins for 2012 were lower than the lower quartile limit, so it was correctly required to adjust the company’s 2012 revenue to bring the profitability indicators to the median of the market range obtained for independent comparable companies.

Paragraph 3.76 of the OECD Guidelines was correctly interpreted by the court of first instance as meaning that the provision primarily considers the analysis of the data for the year under assessment and, in the alternative, the data for previous years, so that the use of the aggregate comparison method is not required.

Furthermore, paragraph 3.79 of the OECD Guidelines states that the use of multi-yearly data may only be used to improve the accuracy of the range of comparison, but in the present case the appellant has not shown in concrete terms the consequences of using that method.”

With regard to the estimation of transfer prices and the increase of the tax base by the amount of RON 3 815 806, the appellant-respondent submits that the difference in income between the expert’s report and the tax inspection report is due solely to the fact that the expert used the indicators from 7 companies and the tax authority used the indicators from 3 companies out of the 11 chosen.

The criticism is unfounded because the expert and, by implication, the court of first instance, demonstrated that there were 4 other companies which were comparable in terms of the activity carried out and for which the tax inspection authorities considered that there was no information, but it was demonstrated by the evidence in the file that they should be included in the comparability sample.”
 
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Jurisprudence 4453-2020

TP-Guidelines

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