Tag: Comparability analysis

A comparability analysis is a comparison of a controlled transaction with an uncontrolled transaction or transactions. Controlled and uncontrolled transactions are comparable if none of the differences between the transactions could materially affect the factor being examined in the methodology (e.g. price or margin), or if reasonably accurate adjustments can be made to eliminate the material effects of any such differences.

Italy vs Promgas s.p.a., May 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 15668/2022

Italy vs Promgas s.p.a., May 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 15668/2022

Promgas s.p.a. is 50% owned by the Italian company Eni s.p.a. and 50% owned by the Russian company Gazprom Export. It deals with the purchase and sale of natural gas of Russian origin destined for the Italian market. It sells the gas to a single Italian entity not belonging to the group, Edison spa, on the basis of a contract signed on 24 January 2000. In essence, Promgas s.p.a. performes intermediary function between the Russian company, Gazprom Export (exporter of the gas), and the Italian company, Edison s.p.a. (final purchaser of the gas). Following an audit for FY 2005/06, the tax authorities – based on the Transaction Net Margin Method – held that the operating margin obtained by Promgas s.p.a. (0.23% in 2025 and 0.06% in 2006) were not in line with the results that the company could have achieved at arm’s length. Applying an operating margin of l.39% resulted in a arm’s length profit of €4,227,438.07, for the year ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.65

Information is readily available in many lending markets on the different rates of interest charged for differently rated enterprises and such information may usefully contribute to performing comparability analyses. Financing transactions that the borrowing MNE or another MNE within the group has with external lenders may also be reliable comparables for interest rates charged by associated enterprises (see paragraphs 10.94 and 10.95). Financing transactions undertaken by the borrowing MNE or another entity in the MNE group, for example the MNE group parent, will be reliable comparables only where the differences between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions do not materially affect the interest rate or reasonably accurate adjustments can be made ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.20

In an ideal scenario, a comparability analysis would enable the identification of financial transactions between independent parties which match the tested transaction in all respects. With the many variables involved, it is more likely that potential comparables will differ from the tested transaction. Where differences exist between the tested transaction and any proposed comparable, it will be necessary to consider whether such differences will have a material impact on the price. If so, it may be possible, where appropriate, to make comparability adjustments to improve the reliability of a comparable. This is more likely to be achievable where the adjustment is based on a quantitative factor and there is good quality data easily available (e.g. on currency differences) than, for instance, in trying to compare loans to borrowers with qualitative differences or where data is not so readily available (e.g. borrowers with different business strategies) ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.117

Set out below is a description of some of the specific features of intangibles that may prove important in a comparability analysis involving transfers of intangibles or rights in intangibles. The following list is not exhaustive and in a specific case consideration of additional or different factors may be an essential part of a comparability analysis ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.111

In applying the principles of the Guidelines related to the content and process of a comparability analysis to a transaction involving intangibles, a transfer pricing analysis must consider the options realistically available to each of the parties to the transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.107

After identifying the relevant transactions involving intangibles, specifically identifying the intangibles involved in those transactions, identifying which entity or entities legally own the intangibles as well as those that contribute to the value of the intangibles, it should be possible to identify arm’s length conditions for the relevant transactions. The principles set out in Chapters I – III of these Guidelines should be applied in determining arm’s length conditions for transactions involving intangibles. In particular, the recommended nine-step process set out in paragraph 3.4 can be helpful in identifying arm’s length conditions for transactions involving intangibles. As an essential part of applying the principles of Chapter III to conduct a comparability analysis under the process described in paragraph 3.4, the principles contained in Sections A, B, and C of this Chapter VI should be considered ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.4

In order to determine arm’s length conditions for the use or transfer of intangibles it is important to perform a functional and comparability analysis in accordance with Section D. 1 of Chapter I, based on identifying the intangibles and associated risks in contractual arrangements and then supplementing the analysis through examination of the actual conduct of the parties based on the functions performed, assets used, and risks assumed, including control of important functions and economically significant risks. Accordingly the next section, Section A, provides guidance on identifying intangibles. Section B examines legal ownership and other contractual terms, together with guidance on the evaluation of the conduct of the parties based on functions, assets and risks. Section C outlines some typical scenarios involving intangibles, and Section D provides guidance on determining arm’s length conditions including the application of pricing methods and valuation techniques, and provides an approach to determining arm’s length conditions for a specific category of hard-to-value intangibles. Examples illustrating ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.83

Small to medium sized enterprises are entering into the area of transfer pricing and the number of cross-border transactions is ever increasing. Although the arm’s length principle applies equally to small and medium sized enterprises and transactions, pragmatic solutions may be appropriate in order to make it possible to find a reasonable response to each transfer pricing case ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.82

It is a good practice for taxpayers to set up a process to establish, monitor and review their transfer prices, taking into account the size of the transactions, their complexity, level of risk involved, and whether they are performed in a stable or changing environment. Such a practical approach would conform to a pragmatic risk assessment strategy or prudent business management principle. In practice, this means that it may be reasonable for a taxpayer to devote relatively less effort to finding information on comparables supporting less significant or less material controlled transactions. For simple transactions that are carried out in a stable environment and the characteristics of which remain the same or similar, a detailed comparability (including functional) analysis may not be needed every year ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.81

When undertaking a comparability analysis, there is no requirement for an exhaustive search of all possible relevant sources of information. Taxpayers and tax administrations should exercise judgment to determine whether particular comparables are reliable ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.80

One question that arises when putting the need for comparability analyses into perspective is the extent of the burden and costs that should be borne by a taxpayer to identify possible comparables and obtain detailed information thereon. It is recognised that the cost of information can be a real concern, especially for small to medium sized operations, but also for those MNEs that deal with a very large number of controlled transactions in many countries. Paragraph 4.28 and Chapter V contain explicit recognition of the need for a reasonable application of the requirement to document comparability ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.79

The use of multiple year data does not necessarily imply the use of multiple year averages. Multiple year data and averages can however be used in some circumstances to improve reliability of the range. See paragraphs 3.57-3.62 for a discussion of statistical tools ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.78

Multiple year data can also improve the process of selecting third party comparables e.g. by identifying results that may indicate a significant variance from the underlying comparability characteristics of the controlled transaction being reviewed, in some cases leading to the rejection of the comparable, or to detect anomalies in third party information ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.77

Multiple year data will also be useful in providing information about the relevant business and product life cycles of the comparables. Differences in business or product life cycles may have a material effect on transfer pricing conditions that needs to be assessed in determining comparability. The data from earlier years may show whether the independent enterprise engaged in a comparable transaction was affected by comparable economic conditions in a comparable manner, or whether different conditions in an earlier year materially affected its price or profit so that it should not be used as a comparable ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.76

In order to obtain a complete understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding the controlled transaction, it generally might be useful to examine data from both the year under examination and prior years. The analysis of such information might disclose facts that may have influenced (or should have influenced) the determination of the transfer price. For example, the use of data from past years will show whether a taxpayer’s reported loss on a transaction is part of a history of losses on similar transactions, the result of particular economic conditions in a prior year that increased costs in the subsequent year, or a reflection of the fact that a product is at the end of its life cycle. Such an analysis may be particularly useful where a transactional profit method is applied. See paragraph 1.151 on the usefulness of multiple year data in examining loss situations. Multiple year data can also improve the understanding of long term arrangements ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.75

In practice, examining multiple year data is often useful in a comparability analysis, but it is not a systematic requirement. Multiple year data should be used where they add value to the transfer pricing analysis. It would not be appropriate to set prescriptive guidance as to the number of years to be covered by multiple year analyses ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.74

Data from years following the year of the transaction may also be relevant to the analysis of transfer prices, but care must be taken to avoid the use of hindsight. For example, data from later years may be useful in comparing product life cycles of controlled and uncontrolled transactions for the purpose of determining whether the uncontrolled transaction is an appropriate comparable to use in applying a particular method. The conduct of the parties in years following the transaction will also be relevant in accurately delineating the actual transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.73

The reasoning that is found at paragraphs 6.181-6.185, which provide guidance on the arm’s length pricing of transactions involving intangibles for which valuation is highly uncertain at the time of the transactions, applies by analogy to other types of transactions with valuation uncertainties. The main question is to determine whether the valuation was sufficiently uncertain at the outset that the parties at arm’s length would have required a price adjustment mechanism, or whether the change in value was so fundamental a development that it would have led to a renegotiation of the transaction. Where this is the case, the tax administration would be justified in determining the arm’s length price for the transaction on the basis of the adjustment clause or re-negotiation that would be provided at arm’s length in a comparable uncontrolled transaction. In other circumstances, where there is no reason to consider that the valuation was sufficiently uncertain at the outset that the parties would have required a ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.72

The question arises whether and if so how to take account in the transfer pricing analysis of future events that were unpredictable at the time of the testing of a controlled transaction, in particular where valuation at that time was highly uncertain. The question should be resolved, both by taxpayers and tax administrations, by reference to what independent enterprises would have done in comparable circumstances to take account of the valuation uncertainty in the pricing of the transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.71

Both the arm’s length price-setting and the arm’s length outcome-testing approaches, as well as combinations of these two approaches, are found among OECD member countries. The issue of double taxation may arise where a controlled transaction takes place between two associated enterprises where different approaches have been applied and lead to different outcomes, for instance because of a discrepancy between market expectations taken into account in the arm’s length price-setting approach and actual outcomes observed in the arm’s length outcome-testing approach. See paragraphs 4.38 and 4.39. Competent authorities are encouraged to use their best efforts to resolve any double taxation issues that may arise from different country approaches to year-end adjustments and that may be submitted to them under a mutual agreement procedure (Article 25 of the OECD Model Tax Convention) ... Read more