Tag: Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP) Method

A transfer pricing method that compares the price for property or services transferred in a controlled transaction to the price charged for property or services transferred in a comparable uncontrolled transaction in comparable circumstances.

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 VI paragraph 6.145

The transfer pricing methods most likely to prove useful in matters involving transfers of one or more intangibles are the CUP method and the transactional profit split method. Valuation techniques can be useful tools. Supplemental guidance on the transfer pricing methods most likely to be useful in connection with transfers of intangibles is provided below ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.39

A transactional profit split method might in appropriate circumstances be considered without comparable data, e.g. where the absence of comparable data is due to the presence of unique and valuable intangibles contributed by each party to the transaction (see paragraph 2.119). However, even in cases where comparable data are scarce and imperfect, the selection of the most appropriate transfer pricing method should be consistent with the functional analysis of the parties, see paragraph 2.2 ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.38

The identification of potential comparables has to be made with the objective of finding the most reliable data, recognising that they will not always be perfect. For instance, independent transactions may be scarce in certain markets and industries. A pragmatic solution may need to be found, on a case-by-case basis, such as broadening the search and using information on uncontrolled transactions taking place in the same industry and a comparable geographical market, but performed by third parties that may have different business strategies, business models or other slightly different economic circumstances; information on uncontrolled transactions taking place in the same industry but in other geographical markets; or information on uncontrolled transactions taking place in the same geographical market but in other industries. The choice among these various options will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, and in particular on the significance of the expected effects of comparability defects on the reliability of the analysis ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.37

The transactional focus of transfer pricing methods and the question of a possible aggregation of the taxpayer’s controlled transactions are discussed at paragraphs 3.9-3.12. A different question is whether non- transactional third party data can provide reliable comparables for a taxpayer’s controlled transactions (or set of transactions aggregated consistently with the guidance at paragraphs 3.9-3.12). In practice, available third party data are often aggregated data, at a company-wide or segment level, depending on the applicable accounting standards. Whether such non- transactional third party data can provide reliable comparables for the taxpayer’s controlled transaction or set of transactions aggregated consistently with the guidance at paragraphs 3.9-3.12 depends in particular on whether the third party performs a range of materially different transactions. Where segmented data are available, they can provide better comparables than company-wide, non-segmented data, because of a more transactional focus, although it is recognised that segmented data can raise issues in relation to the allocation of expenses to various segments ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.36

Tax administrators may have information available to them from examinations of other taxpayers or from other sources of information that may not be disclosed to the taxpayer. However, it would be unfair to apply a transfer pricing method on the basis of such data unless the tax administration was able, within the limits of its domestic confidentiality requirements, to disclose such data to the taxpayer so that there would be an adequate opportunity for the taxpayer to defend its own position and to safeguard effective judicial control by the courts ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.35

Taxpayers do not always perform searches for comparables on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, e.g. in cases where there are insufficient data available at the domestic level and/or in order to reduce compliance costs where several entities of an MNE group have comparable functional analyses. Non-domestic comparables should not be automatically rejected just because they are not domestic. A determination of whether non-domestic comparables are reliable has to be made on a case-by-case basis and by reference to the extent to which they satisfy the five comparability factors. Whether or not one regional search for comparables can be reliably used for several subsidiaries of an MNE group operating in a given region of the world depends on the particular circumstances in which each of those subsidiaries operates. See paragraphs 1.132-1.133 on market differences and multi-jurisdictional analyses. Difficulties may also arise from differing accounting standards ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.34

There are also proprietary databases that are developed and maintained by some advisory firms. In addition to the issues raised above for commercial databases that are more broadly commercialised, proprietary databases also raise a further concern with respect to their coverage of data if they are based on a more limited portion of the market than commercial databases. When a taxpayer has used a proprietary database to support its transfer prices, the tax administration may request access to the database to review the taxpayer’s results, for obvious transparency reasons ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.33

Use of commercial databases should not encourage quantity over quality. In practice, performing a comparability analysis using a commercial database alone may give rise to concerns about the reliability of the analysis, given the quality of the information relevant to assessing comparability that is typically obtainable from a database. To address these concerns, database searches may need to be refined with other publicly available information, depending on the facts and circumstances. Such a refinement of the database search with other sources of information is meant to promote quality over standardised approaches and is valid both for database searches made by taxpayers/practitioners and for those made by tax administrations. It should be understood in light of the discussion of the costs and compliance burden created for the taxpayer at paragraphs 3.80-3.83 ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.32

It may be unnecessary to use a commercial database if reliable information is available from other sources, e.g. internal comparables. Where they are used, commercial databases should be used in an objective manner and genuine attempts should be made to use the databases to identify reliable comparable information ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.31

A number of limitations to commercial databases are frequently identified. Because these commercial databases rely on publicly available information, they are not available in all countries, since not all countries have the same amount of publicly available information about their companies. Moreover, where they are available, they do not include the same type of information for all the companies operating in a given country because disclosure and filing requirements may differ depending on the legal form of the company and on whether or not it is listed. Care must be exercised with respect to whether and how these databases are used, given that they are compiled and presented for non-transfer pricing purposes. It is not always the case that commercial databases provide information that is detailed enough to support the chosen transfer pricing method. Not all databases include the same level of detail and can be used with similar assurance. Importantly, it is the experience in many countries that commercial ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.30

A common source of information is commercial databases, which have been developed by editors who compile accounts filed by companies with the relevant administrative bodies and present them in an electronic format suitable for searches and statistical analysis. They can be a practical and sometimes cost-effective way of identifying external comparables and may provide the most reliable source of information, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.29

There are various sources of information that can be used to identify potential external comparables. This sub-section discusses particular issues that arise with respect to commercial databases, foreign comparables and information undisclosed to taxpayers. Additionally, whenever reliable internal comparables exist, it may be unnecessary to search for external ones, see paragraphs 3.27-3.28 ... 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 III paragraph 3.27

Step 4 of the typical process described at paragraph 3.4 is a review of existing internal comparables, if any. Internal comparables may have a more direct and closer relationship to the transaction under review than external comparables. The financial analysis may be easier and more reliable as it will presumably rely on identical accounting standards and practices for the internal comparable and for the controlled transaction. In addition, access to information on internal comparables may be both more complete and less costly ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.26

The presence of minority shareholders may be one factor leading to the outcomes of a taxpayer’s controlled transactions being closer to arm’s length, but it is not determinative in and of itself. The influence of minority shareholders depends on a number of factors, including whether the minority shareholder has a participation in the capital of the parent company or in the capital of a subsidiary, and whether it has and actually exercises some influence on the pricing of intra-group transactions ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.25

Comparisons of a taxpayer’s controlled transactions with other controlled transactions carried out by the same or another MNE group are irrelevant to the application of the arm’s length principle and therefore should not be used by a tax administration as the basis for a transfer pricing adjustment or by a taxpayer to support its transfer pricing policy ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter III paragraph 3.24

A comparable uncontrolled transaction is a transaction between two independent parties that is comparable to the controlled transaction under examination. It can be either a comparable transaction between one party to the controlled transaction and an independent party (“internal comparable”) or between two independent enterprises, neither of which is a party to the controlled transaction (“external comparable”) ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.13

This part provides a detailed description of traditional transaction methods that are used to apply the arm’s length principle. These methods are the comparable uncontrolled price method or CUP method, the resale price method, and the cost plus method ... Read more
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