Tag: Comparability factors

Factors taken into account in determining the level of comparability of the controlled and comparable transactions. These are attributes of the transactions or parties that could materially affect prices or profits, including the characteristics of the property or services; functional analysis; contractual terms; economic circumstances and business strategies pursued.

Norway vs ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-38180

Norway vs ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-38180

ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS (COPSAS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Norwegian branch of ConocoPhillips Norway, which is registered in Delaware, USA. ConocoPhillips Norway, which does not conduct special taxable business, is a wholly owned company in the ConocoPhillips Group. The group’s headquarters are in Houston, Texas, USA. The question at issue was whether the interest rate on a loan had been set too high, thus resulting in a reduction of the taxable income of COPSAS. In May 2013, COPSAS entered into a loan agreement with the related company ConocoPhillips Norway Funding Ltd (COPN Funding). The loan had a limit of NOK 20 billion and a term of 5 years. The agreed interest rate was NIBOR 6M + 1.25%. NIBOR 6M is a current interest rate (benchmark interest rate), while 1.25% is a fixed interest rate – the so-called «interest margin». The interest margin of 1.25% corresponds to 125 so-called basis points (bp). The loan facility was primarily established to ... Read more
Costa Rica vs GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A., February 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 4-001638-1027-CA

Costa Rica vs GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A., February 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 4-001638-1027-CA

GlaxoSmithKline Costa Rica S.A. manufactures pharma products which is sold to both independent customers in the region and to group companies abroad. For FY 2004 and 2005 pricing of the controlled transactions had been determined based on the TNMM method using return on total costs (ROTC) as PLI. GSK said the range of return on total costs “for the comparable independent companies ranges from 4.7 per cent to 14.5 per cent, with a median of 9.6 per cent. GSK CR obtained an average ROTC of 50.6 percent during fiscal years 2004 and 2005, which was not below the range identified for comparable independent companies. Accordingly, the transfer prices used by GSK CR in its controlled transactions did not distort GSK CR’s profitability and satisfied the arm’s length principle set out in the OECD Guidelines. In 2009 the tax authorities issued an assessment for FY 2004 and 2005 based on the internal CUP method. “…between the transactions under study, namely sales ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.90

The widespread existence of markets for borrowing and lending money and the frequency of such transactions between independent borrowers and lenders, coupled with the widespread availability of information and analysis of loan markets may make it easier to apply the CUP method to financial transactions than may be the case for other types of transactions. Information available often includes details on the characteristics of the loan and the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of the specific issuance. Characteristics which will usually increase the risk for the lender, such as long maturity dates, absence of security, subordination, or application of the loan to a risky project, will tend to increase the interest rate. Characteristics which limit the lender’s risk, such as strong collateral, a high quality guarantee, or restrictions on future behaviour of the borrower, will tend to result in a lower interest rate ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.67

There may be special circumstances, such as in the case of start-up entities, or those that have recently been part of a merger, that may have an impact on the credit rating of a group entity. These special situations should be taken into consideration ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.66

As a credit rating depends on a combination of quantitative and qualitative factors, there is still likely to be some variance in creditworthiness between borrowers with the same credit rating. In addition, when making comparisons between borrowers using the kind of financial metrics typically seen as important to lenders, such as debt-earnings or debt-equity ratios, it is important to note that the same financial metrics will not necessarily result in the same credit rating if there are other differences between the rated parties. For example, it may require stronger financial metrics to obtain a given rating in some industries than to obtain the same rating for a borrower in other industries. More intrinsically risky industries and those with less stable revenue streams tend to require better financial ratios in order to obtain the same rating ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.34

Business strategies must also be examined in accurately delineating the actual financial transaction and in determining comparability for transfer pricing purposes since different business strategies can have a significant effect on the terms and conditions which would be agreed between independent enterprises ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.33

Currency differences are another potentially important factor. Economic factors such as growth rate, inflation rate, and the volatility of exchange rates, mean that otherwise similar financial instruments issued in different currencies may have different prices. Moreover, prices for financial instruments in the same currency may vary across financial markets or countries due to regulations such as interest rate controls, exchange rate controls, foreign exchange restrictions and other legal and practical restrictions on financial market access ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter X paragraph 10.32

Macroeconomic trends such as central bank lending rates or interbank reference rates, and financial market events like a credit crisis, can affect prices. In this regard, the precise timing of the issue of a financial instrument in the primary market or the selection of comparable data in the secondary market can therefore be very significant in terms of comparability. For instance, it is not likely that multiple year data on loan issuances will provide useful comparables. The opposite is more likely to be true, i.e. that the closer in timing a comparable loan issuance is to the issuance of the tested transaction, the less the likelihood of different economic factors prevailing, notwithstanding that particular events can cause rapid changes in lending markets ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.30

In some circumstances group synergies contribute to the level of income earned by an MNE group. Such group synergies can take many different forms including streamlined management, elimination of costly duplication of effort, integrated systems, purchasing or borrowing power, etc. Such features may have an effect on the determination of arm’s length conditions for controlled transactions and should be addressed for transfer pricing purposes as comparability factors. As they are not owned or controlled by an enterprise, they are not intangibles within the meaning of Section A. 1. See Section D.8 of Chapter I for a discussion of the transfer pricing treatment of group synergies ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.28

On the other hand, internal comparables are not always more reliable and it is not the case that any transaction between a taxpayer and an independent party can be regarded as a reliable comparable for controlled transactions carried on by the same taxpayer. Internal comparables where they exist must satisfy the five comparability factors in the same way as external comparables, see paragraphs 1.33-1.138. Guidance on comparability adjustments also applies to internal comparables, see paragraphs 3.47-3.54. Assume for instance that a taxpayer manufactures a particular product, sells a significant volume thereof to its foreign associated retailer and a marginal volume of the same product to an independent party. In such a case, the difference in volumes is likely to materially affect the comparability of the two transactions. If it is not possible to make a reasonably accurate adjustment to eliminate the effects of such difference, the transaction between the taxpayer and its independent customer is unlikely to be a reliable ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.75

Prices are likely to be affected by differences in products, and gross margins are likely to be affected by differences in functions, but net profit indicators are less adversely affected by such differences. As with the resale price and cost plus methods that the transactional net margin method resembles, this does not mean that a mere similarity of functions between two enterprises will necessarily lead to reliable comparisons. Assuming similar functions can be isolated from among the wide range of functions that enterprises may exercise, in order to apply the method, the net profit indicators related to such functions may still not be automatically comparable where, for instance, the enterprises concerned carry on those functions in different economic sectors or markets with different levels of profitability. When the comparable uncontrolled transactions being used are those of an independent enterprise, a high degree of similarity is required in a number of aspects of the associated enterprise and the independent enterprise involved ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.69

Another practical strength of the transactional net margin method is that, as with any one-sided method, it is necessary to examine a financial indicator for only one of the associated enterprises (the “tested” party). Similarly, it is often not necessary to state the books and records of all participants in the business activity on a common basis or to allocate costs for all participants as is the case with the transactional profit split method. This can be practically advantageous when one of the parties to the transaction is complex and has many interrelated activities or when it is difficult to obtain reliable information about one of the parties. However, a comparability (including functional) analysis must always be performed in order to appropriately characterise the transaction between the parties and choose the most appropriate transfer pricing method, and this analysis generally necessitates that some information on the five comparability factors in relation to the controlled transaction be collected on both the ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.20

For the CUP method to be reliably applied to commodity transactions, the economically relevant characteristics of the controlled transaction and the uncontrolled transactions or the uncontrolled arrangements represented by the quoted price need to be comparable. For commodities, the economically relevant characteristics include, among others, the physical features and quality of the commodity; the contractual terms of the controlled transaction, such as volumes traded, period of the arrangements, the timing and terms of delivery, transportation, insurance, and foreign currency terms. For some commodities, certain economically relevant characteristics (e.g. prompt delivery) may lead to a premium or a discount. If the quoted price is used as a reference for determining the arm’s length price or price range, the standardised contracts which stipulate specifications on the basis of which commodities are traded on the exchange and which result in a quoted price for the commodity may be relevant. Where there are differences between the conditions of the controlled transaction and the conditions ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.17

In considering whether controlled and uncontrolled transactions are comparable, regard should be had to the effect on price of broader business functions other than just product comparability (i.e. factors relevant to determining comparability under Chapter I). Where differences exist between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions or between the enterprises undertaking those transactions, it may be difficult to determine reasonably accurate adjustments to eliminate the effect on price. The difficulties that arise in attempting to make reasonably accurate adjustments should not routinely preclude the possible application of the CUP method. Practical considerations dictate a more flexible approach to enable the CUP method to be used and to be supplemented as necessary by other appropriate methods, all of which should be evaluated according to their relative accuracy. Every effort should be made to adjust the data so that it may be used appropriately in a CUP method. As for any method, the relative reliability of the CUP method is affected by the ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.172

Some businesses are successful in assembling a uniquely qualified or experienced cadre of employees. The existence of such an employee group may affect the arm’s length price for services provided by the employee group or the efficiency with which services are provided or goods produced by the enterprise. Such factors should ordinarily be taken into account in a transfer pricing comparability analysis. Where it is possible to determine the benefits or detriments of a unique assembled workforce vis-à- vis the workforce of enterprises engaging in potentially comparable transactions, comparability adjustments may be made to reflect the impact of the assembled workforce on arm’s length prices for goods or services ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.50

The following example illustrates the concept of determining the actual transaction where a transaction has not been identified by the MNE. In reviewing the commercial or financial relations between Company P and its subsidiary companies, it is observed that those subsidiaries receive services from an independent party engaged by Company P. Company P pays for the services, the subsidiaries do not reimburse Company P directly or indirectly through the pricing of another transaction and there is no service agreement in place between Company P and the subsidiaries. The conclusion is that, in addition to a provision of services by the independent party to the subsidiaries, there are commercial or financial relations between Company P and the subsidiaries, which transfer potential value from Company P to the subsidiaries. The analysis would need to determine the nature of those commercial or financial relations from the economically relevant characteristics in order to determine the terms and conditions of the identified transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.49

Where no written terms exist, the actual transaction would need to be deduced from the evidence of actual conduct provided by identifying the economically relevant characteristics of the transaction. In some circumstances the actual outcome of commercial or financial relations may not have been identified as a transaction by the MNE, but nevertheless may result in a transfer of material value, the terms of which would need to be deduced from the conduct of the parties. For example, technical assistance may have been granted, synergies may have been created through deliberate concerted action (as discussed in Section D.8), or know-how may have been provided through seconded employees or otherwise. These relations may not have been recognised by the MNE, may not be reflected in the pricing of other connected transactions, may not have been formalised in written contracts, and may not appear as entries in the accounting systems. Where the transaction has not been formalised, all aspects would need to ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.48

The following example illustrates the concept of differences between written contractual terms and conduct of the parties, with the result that the actual conduct of the parties delineates the transaction. Company S is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Company P. The parties have entered into a written contract pursuant to which Company P licenses intellectual property to Company S for use in Company S’s business; Company S agrees to compensate Company P for the licence with a royalty. Evidence provided by other economically relevant characteristics, and in particular the functions performed, establishes that Company P performs negotiations with third-party customers to achieve sales for Company S, provides regular technical services support to Company S so that Company S can deliver contracted sales to its customers, and regularly provides staff to enable Company S to fulfil customer contracts. A majority of customers insist on including Company P as joint contracting party along with Company S, although fee income under the contract is ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.47

Where there is doubt as to what transaction was agreed between the associated enterprises, it is necessary to take into account all the relevant evidence from the economically relevant characteristics of the transaction. In doing so one must bear in mind that the terms of the transaction between the enterprises may change over time. Where there has been a change in the terms of a transaction, the circumstances surrounding the change should be examined to determine whether the change indicates that the original transaction has been replaced through a new transaction with effect from the date of the change, or whether the change reflects the intentions of the parties in the original transaction. Particular care should be exercised where it appears that any changes may have been triggered by knowledge of emerging outcomes from the transaction. Changes made in the purported assumption of a risk when risk outcomes are known do not involve an assumption of risk since there is ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.46

In transactions between independent enterprises, the divergence of interests between the parties ensures (i) that contractual terms are concluded that reflect the interests of both of the parties, (ii) that the parties will ordinarily seek to hold each other to the terms of the contract, and (iii) that contractual terms will be ignored or modified after the fact generally only if it is in the interests of both parties. The same divergence of interests may not exist in the case of associated enterprises or any such divergences may be managed in ways facilitated by the control relationship and not solely or mainly through contractual agreements. It is, therefore, particularly important in considering the commercial or financial relations between associated enterprises to examine whether the arrangements reflected in the actual conduct of the parties substantially conform to the terms of any written contract, or whether the associated enterprises’ actual conduct indicates that the contractual terms have not been followed, do not ... Read more