Tag: Cost plus method

The cost plus method is a transfer pricing method using the costs incurred by the supplier of property (or services) in a controlled transaction. An appropriate cost plus mark up is added to this cost, to make an appropriate profit in light of the functions performed (taking into account assets used and risks assumed) and the market conditions. What is arrived at after adding the cost plus mark up to the above costs may be regarded as an arm’s length price of the original controlled transaction.

India vs Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd, July 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Case No ITAT No 633-MUM-2021

India vs Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd, July 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Case No ITAT No 633-MUM-2021

Sulzer Tech India Pvt Ltd (the assessee) is in the business of providing design and engineering services. To that end Sulzer Management AG, an associated enterprise provided various IT and support services to Sulzer Tech India. The payment for these services had been determined based on a benchmark study where Sulzer Management AG was chosen as the tested party. The cost plus margin for the selected comparables ranged from 4.08% to 7.08%, with a median of 5.69%, and on that basis the payment to Sulzer Management of Rs. 2,52,49,650, which was equal to cost plus 5%, was considered to be at arm’s length. The tax authorities disagreed and held that Sulzer Tech India at arm’s length would not have paid any amount toward services which are not availed to it and have not benefited its business. Accordingly, an adjustment of additional income of Rs. 2,52,49,650, was issued. Judgement of the Income Tax Appellant Tribunal The Tribunal set aside the assessment ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VII paragraph 7.36

For example, it may be the case that the market value of intra-group services is not greater than the costs incurred by the service provider. This could occur where, for example, the service is not an ordinary or recurrent activity of the service provider but is offered incidentally as a convenience to the MNE group. In determining whether the intra-group services represent the same value for money as could be obtained from an independent enterprise, a comparison of functions and expected benefits would be relevant to assessing comparability of the transactions. An MNE group may still determine to provide the service intra-group rather than using a third party for a variety of reasons, perhaps because of other intra-group benefits (for which arm’s length compensation may be appropriate). It would not be appropriate in such a case to increase the price for the service above what would be established by the CUP method just to make sure the associated enterprise makes ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VII paragraph 7.35

Depending on the method being used to establish an arm’s length charge for intra-group services, the issue may arise whether it is necessary that the charge be such that it results in a profit for the service provider. In an arm’s length transaction, an independent enterprise normally would seek to charge for services in such a way as to generate profit, rather than providing the services merely at cost. The economic alternatives available to the recipient of the service also need to be taken into account in determining the arm’s length charge. However, there are circumstances (e.g. as outlined in the discussion on business strategies in Chapter I) in which an independent enterprise may not realise a profit from the performance of services alone, for example where a supplier’s costs (anticipated or actual) exceed market price but the supplier agrees to provide the service to increase its profitability, perhaps by complementing its range of activities. Therefore, it need not always ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VII paragraph 7.34

When an associated enterprise is acting only as an agent or intermediary in the provision of services, it is important in applying a cost based method that the return or mark-up is appropriate for the performance of an agency function rather than for the performance of the services themselves. In such a case, it may not be appropriate to determine arm’s length pricing as a mark-up on the cost of the services but rather on the costs of the agency function itself. For example, an associated enterprise may incur the costs of renting advertising space on behalf of group members, costs that the group members would have incurred directly had they been independent. In such a case, it may well be appropriate to pass on these costs to the group recipients without a mark-up, and to apply a mark-up only to the costs incurred by the intermediary in performing its agency function ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VII paragraph 7.33

Where a cost based method is determined to be the most appropriate method to the circumstances of the case, the analysis would require examining whether the costs incurred by the group service provider need some adjustment to make the comparison of the controlled and uncontrolled transactions reliable ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VII paragraph 7.31

The method to be used to determine arm’s length transfer pricing for intra-group services should be determined according to the guidelines in Chapters I, II, and III. Often, the application of these guidelines will lead to use of the CUP or a cost-based method (cost plus method or cost-based TNMM) for pricing intra-group services. A CUP method is likely to be the most appropriate method where there is a comparable service provided between independent enterprises in the recipient’s market, or by the associated enterprise providing the services to an independent enterprise in comparable circumstances. For example, this might be the case where accounting, auditing, legal, or computer services are being provided subject to the controlled and uncontrolled transactions being comparable. A cost based method would likely be the most appropriate method in the absence of a CUP where the nature of the activities involved, assets used, and risks assumed are comparable to those undertaken by independent enterprises. As indicated in ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.198

In a transfer pricing analysis where the most appropriate transfer pricing method is the resale price method, the cost-plus method, or the transactional net margin method, the less complex of the parties to the controlled transaction is often selected as the tested party. In many cases, an arm’s length price or level of profit for the tested party can be determined without the need to value the intangibles used in connection with the transaction. That would generally be the case where only the non-tested party uses intangibles. In some cases, however, the tested party may in fact use intangibles notwithstanding its relatively less complex operations. Similarly, parties to potentially comparable uncontrolled transactions may use intangibles. Where either of these is the case, it becomes necessary to consider the intangibles used by the tested party and by the parties to potentially comparable uncontrolled transactions as one comparability factor in the analysis ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.111

By way of illustration, the example of cost plus at paragraph 2.59 demonstrates the need to adjust the gross mark-up arising from transactions in order to achieve consistent and reliable comparison. Such adjustments may be made without difficulty where the relevant costs can be readily analysed. Where, however, it is known that an adjustment is required, but it is not possible to identify the particular costs for which an adjustment is required, it may, nevertheless, be possible to identify the net profit arising on the transaction and thereby ensure that a consistent measure is used. For example, if the supervisory, general, and administrative costs that are treated as part of costs of goods sold for the independent enterprises X, Y and Z cannot be identified so as to adjust the mark up in a reliable application of cost plus, it may be necessary to examine net profit indicators in the absence of more reliable comparisons ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.62

This Part provides a discussion of transactional profit methods that may be used to approximate arm’s length conditions where such methods are the most appropriate to the circumstances of the case, see paragraphs 2.1 – 2.12. Transactional profit methods examine the profits that arise from particular transactions among associated enterprises. The only profit methods that satisfy the arm’s length principle are those that are consistent with Article 9 of the OECD Model Tax Convention and follow the requirement for a comparability analysis as described in these Guidelines. In particular, so-called “comparable profits methods” or “modified cost plus/resale price methods” are acceptable only to the extent that they are consistent with these Guidelines ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.59

A is a domestic manufacturer of timing mechanisms for mass- market clocks. A sells this product to its foreign subsidiary B. A earns a 5% gross profit mark up with respect to its manufacturing operation. X, Y, and Z are independent domestic manufacturers of timing mechanisms for mass- market watches. X, Y, and Z sell to independent foreign purchasers. X, Y, and Z earn gross profit mark ups with respect to their manufacturing operations that range from 3% to 5%. A accounts for supervisory, general, and administrative costs as operating expenses, and thus these costs are not reflected in cost of goods sold. The gross profit mark ups of X, Y, and Z, however, reflect supervisory, general, and administrative costs as part of costs of goods sold. Therefore, the gross profit mark ups of X, Y, and Z must be adjusted to provide accounting consistency ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.58

No general rule can be set out that deals with all cases. The various methods for determining costs should be consistent as between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions and consistent over time in relation to particular enterprises. For example, in determining the appropriate cost plus mark up, it may be necessary to take into account whether products can be supplied by various sources at widely differing costs. Associated enterprises may choose to calculate their cost plus basis on a standardised basis. An independent party probably would not accept to pay a higher price resulting from the inefficiency of the other party. On the other hand, if the other party is more efficient than can be expected under normal circumstances, this other party should benefit from that advantage. The associated enterprise may agree in advance which costs would be acceptable as a basis for the cost plus method ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.57

In some cases, there may be a basis for using only variable or incremental (e.g. marginal) costs, because the transactions represent a disposal of marginal production. Such a claim could be justified if the goods could not be sold at a higher price in the relevant foreign market (see also the discussion of market penetration in Chapter I). Factors that could be taken into account in evaluating such a claim include information on whether the taxpayer has any other sales of the same or similar products in that particular foreign market, the percentage of the taxpayers’ production (in both volume and value terms) that the claimed “marginal production” represents, the term of the arrangement, and details of the marketing analysis that was undertaken by the taxpayer or MNE group which led to the conclusion that the goods could not be sold at a higher price in that foreign market ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.56

The costs that may be considered in applying the cost plus method are limited to those of the supplier of goods or services. This limitation may raise a problem of how to allocate some costs between suppliers and purchasers. There is a possibility that some costs will be borne by the purchaser in order to diminish the supplier’s cost base on which the mark up will be calculated. In practice, this may be achieved by not allocating to the supplier an appropriate share of overheads and other costs borne by the purchaser (often the parent company) for the benefit of the supplier (often a subsidiary). The allocation should be undertaken based on an analysis of functions performed (taking into account assets used and risks assumed) by the respective parties as provided in Chapter I. A related problem is how overhead costs should be apportioned, whether by reference to turnover, number or cost of employees, or some other criterion. The issue ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.55

In principle historical costs should be attributed to individual units of production, although admittedly the cost plus method may over- emphasize historical costs. Some costs, for example costs of materials, labour, and transport will vary over a period and in such a case it may be appropriate to average the costs over the period. Averaging also may be appropriate across product groups or over a particular line of production. Further, averaging may be appropriate with respect to the costs of fixed assets where the production or processing of different products is carried on simultaneously and the volume of activity fluctuates. Costs such as replacement costs and marginal costs also may need to be considered where these can be measured and they result in a more accurate estimate of the appropriate profit ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.54

The distinction between gross and net profit analyses may be understood in the following terms. In general, the cost plus method will use mark ups computed after direct and indirect costs of production, while a net profit method will use profits computed after operating expenses of the enterprise as well. It must be recognised that because of the variations in practice among countries, it is difficult to draw any precise lines between the three categories described above. Thus, for example, an application of the cost plus method may in a particular case include the consideration of some expenses that might be considered operating expenses, as discussed in paragraph 2.52. Nevertheless, the problems in delineating with mathematical precision the boundaries of the three categories described above do not alter the basic practical distinction between the gross and net profit approaches ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.53

While precise accounting standards and terms may vary, in general the costs and expenses of an enterprise are understood to be divisible into three broad categories. First, there are the direct costs of producing a product or service, such as the cost of raw materials. Second, there are indirect costs of production, which although closely related to the production process may be common to several products or services (e.g. the costs of a repair department that services equipment used to produce different products). Finally, there are the operating expenses of the enterprise as a whole, such as supervisory, general, and administrative expenses ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.52

Another important aspect of comparability is accounting consistency. Where the accounting practices differ in the controlled transaction and the uncontrolled transaction, appropriate adjustments should be made to the data used to ensure that the same type of costs are used in each case to ensure consistency. The gross profit mark ups must be measured consistently between the associated enterprise and the independent enterprise. In addition, there may be differences across enterprises in the treatment of costs that affect gross profit mark ups that would need to be accounted for in order to achieve reliable comparability. In some cases it may be necessary to take into account certain operating expenses in order to achieve consistency and comparability; in these circumstances the cost plus method starts to approach a net rather than gross profit analysis. To the extent that the analysis takes into account operating expenses, its reliability may be adversely affected for the reasons set forth in paragraphs 2.70 – 2.73 ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.51

For this purpose, it is particularly important to consider differences in the level and types of expenses – operating expenses and non- operating expenses including financing expenditures – associated with functions performed and risks assumed by the parties or transactions being compared. Consideration of these differences may indicate the following: a) If expenses reflect a functional difference (taking into account assets used and risks assumed) which has not been taken into account in applying the method, an adjustment to the cost plus mark up may be required. b) If the expenses reflect additional functions that are distinct from the activities tested by the method, separate compensation for those functions may need to be determined. Such functions may for example amount to the provision of services for which an appropriate reward may be determined. Similarly, expenses that are the result of capital structures reflecting non-arm’s length arrangements may require separate adjustment. c) If differences in the expenses of the parties being ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.50

In addition, when applying the cost plus method one should pay attention to apply a comparable mark up to a comparable cost basis. For instance, if the supplier to which reference is made in applying the cost plus method in carrying out its activities employs leased business assets, the cost basis might not be comparable without adjustment if the supplier in the controlled transaction owns its business assets. The cost plus method relies upon a comparison of the mark up on costs achieved in a controlled transaction and the mark up on costs achieved in one or more comparable uncontrolled transactions. Therefore, differences between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions that have an effect on the size of the mark up must be analysed to determine what adjustments should be made to the uncontrolled transactions’ respective mark up ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.49

The cost plus method presents some difficulties in proper application, particularly in the determination of costs. Although it is true that an enterprise must cover its costs over a period of time to remain in business, those costs may not be the determinant of the appropriate profit in a specific case for any one year. While in many cases companies are driven by competition to scale down prices by reference to the cost of creating the relevant goods or providing the relevant service, there are other circumstances where there is no discernible link between the level of costs incurred and a market price (e.g. where a valuable discovery has been made and the owner has incurred only small research costs in making it) ... Read more