Spain vs Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L., October 2021, Audiencia Nacional, Case No SAN 4241/2021 – ECLI:ES:AN:2021:4241

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Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L. is the Spanish subsidiary of the multinational company Varian Medical Systems and carries out two types of activities – distribution and after-sales services. The products sold was purchased from related entities: Varian Medical Systems Inc., Varian Medical Systems UK Ltd., Varian Medical Systems International AG and Varian Medical Systems HAAN GmbH.

The remuneration of Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L. had been determined by application of the net margin method for all transactions and resulted in a operating margin of 2.86% in 2005 and 2.75% in 2006.

In 2010 an audit were performed by the tax authorities for FY 2005 and 2006, which resulted in an adjustment. The tax authorities accepted the net margin method, but made various corrections in its application. The adjustments made by the tax authorities resulted in a operating margin of 6.45% in the two years under review,

The tax administration argued that the margins determined by Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L. could not be accepted due to various technical discrepancies in the application of the method. Instead they determined that a operating margin of 6.45% would have been obtained in an arm’s length situation.

The target margin of 6.45% resulted in a decrease in the cost of purchases of goods from related manufacturing entities by 725,108 euros in 2005 (1 October 2005 to 30 September 2006) and by 1,008,065 euros in 2006 (1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007).

Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L. filed an appeal before the Regional Administrative Court of Madrid, which was dismissed. An appeal was then filed to the Central Administrative Court, which was also rejected.

Judgement of the Nacional Court

The Court decided in favor of Varian Medical Systems Iberica S.L. and set aside the tax assessment.

Excerpts:

“Indeed, as stated in paragraph 1.48 of the 1995 OECD Guidelines (and in similar terms in paragraph 3.60 of the 2010 version of the OECD Guidelines), “if the relevant terms of the controlled transactions (e.g. price or margin) are within the arm’s length range, no adjustment should be made”.

In the light of the foregoing, the Board agrees with the application in so far as it states, at p. 15, that “[a]ccording to the Court of First Instance’s findings, the Court of First Instance has held that “in accordance with the OECD Guidelines, given that the operating margin of the distribution function declared by VMS (2.86% in 2005-2006 and 2.75% in 2006-2007), is within the arm’s length range (either the taxpayer’s interquartile range, which ranges from 1.06% to 5.25%, or that of the Inspectorate, which ranges from 1.55% to 6.45%), no adjustment is necessary”.

“The arm’s length price declared by the appellant company, as stated above, was within the arm’s length range determined by the tax authorities, ergo, no adjustment was appropriate.”

“In conclusion, for the reasons set out above, the technical basis used by the tax authorities to regularise the taxpayer’s situation, as regards the points at issue here, is not in accordance with the law.”

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SPAIN vs SAN_4241_2021

TP-Guidelines

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