Tag: Methods – strength and weaknesses

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.123

A weakness of the transactional profit split method relates to difficulties in its application. On first review, the transactional profit split method may appear readily accessible to both taxpayers and tax administrations because it tends to rely less on information about independent enterprises. However, associated enterprises and tax administrations alike may have difficulty accessing the detailed information required to apply a transactional profit split method reliably. It may be difficult to measure the relevant revenue and costs for all the associated enterprises participating in the controlled transactions, which could require stating books and records on a common basis and making adjustments in accounting practices and currencies. Further, when the transactional profit split method is applied to operating profit, it may be difficult to identify the appropriate operating expenses associated with the transactions and to allocate costs between the transactions and the associated enterprises’ other activities. Identifying the appropriate profit splitting factors can also be challenging. Given the necessity of applying ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.122

A further strength of the transactional profit split method is that all relevant parties to the transaction are directly evaluated as part of the pricing of the transaction, that is, the contributions of each party to the transaction are specifically identified and their relative values measured in order to determine an arm’s length compensation for each party in relation to the transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.121

Another strength of the transactional profit split method is that it can offer flexibility by taking into account specific, possibly unique, facts and circumstances of the associated enterprises that may not be present in independent enterprises. Moreover, where there is a high degree of uncertainty for each of the parties in relation to a transaction, for example in transactions involving the shared assumption of economically significant risks by all parties (or the separate assumption of closely related economically significant risks), the flexibility of the transactional profit split method can allow for the determination of arm’s length profits for each party that vary with the actual outcomes of the risks associated with the transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.120

The transactional profit split method can also provide a solution for highly integrated operations in cases for which a one-sided method would not be appropriate. See Section C.2.2.2, below ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.119

The main strength of the transactional profit split method is that it can offer a solution for cases where both parties to a transaction make unique and valuable contributions (e.g. contribute unique and valuable intangibles) to the transaction. In such a case independent parties might effectively price the transaction in proportion to their respective contributions, making a two-sided method more appropriate. Furthermore, since those contributions are unique and valuable there will be no reliable comparables information which could be used to price the entirety of the transaction in a more reliable way, through the application of another method. In such cases, the allocation of profits under the transactional profit split method may be based on the contributions made by the associated enterprises, by reference to the relative values of their respective functions, assets and risks. See Section C.2.2 below on the nature of the transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.76

The use of net profit indicators can potentially introduce a greater element of volatility into the determination of transfer prices for two reasons. First, net profit indicators can be influenced by some factors that do not have an effect (or have a less substantial or direct effect) on gross margins and prices, because of the potential for variation of operating expenses across enterprises. Second, net profit indicators can be influenced by some of the same factors, such as competitive position, that can influence price and gross margins, but the effect of these factors may not be as readily eliminated. In the traditional transaction methods, the effect of these factors may be eliminated as a natural consequence of insisting upon greater product and function similarity. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and in particular on the effect of the functional differences on the cost structure and on the revenue of the potential comparables, net profit indicators can be ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.72

Like the resale price and cost plus methods, the transactional net margin method is applied to only one of the associated enterprises. The fact that many factors unrelated to transfer prices may affect net profits, in conjunction with the one-sided nature of the analysis under this method, can affect the overall reliability of the transactional net margin method if an insufficient standard of comparability is applied. Detailed guidance on establishing comparability for the transactional net margin method is given in Section B.3.1 below ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.70

There are also a number of weaknesses to the transactional net margin method. The net profit indicator of a taxpayer can be influenced by some factors that would either not have an effect, or have a less substantial or direct effect, on price or gross margins between independent parties. These aspects may make accurate and reliable determinations of arm’s length net profit indicators difficult. Thus, it is important to provide some detailed guidance on establishing comparability for the transactional net margin method, as set forth in paragraphs 2.74-2.81 below ... 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 2.68

One strength of the transactional net margin method is that net profit indicators (e.g. return on assets, operating income to sales, and possibly other measures of net profit) are less affected by transactional differences than is the case with price, as used in the CUP method. Net profit indicators also may be more tolerant to some functional differences between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions than gross profit margins. Differences in the functions performed between enterprises are often reflected in variations in operating expenses. Consequently, this may lead to a wide range of gross profit margins but still broadly similar levels of net operating profit indicators. In addition, in some countries the lack of clarity in the public data with respect to the classification of expenses in the gross or operating profits may make it difficult to evaluate the comparability of gross margins, while the use of net profit indicators may avoid the problem. (An example illustrating the sensitivity of gross ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.65

A transactional net margin method is unlikely to be reliable if each party to a transaction makes unique and valuable contributions, see paragraph 2.4. In such a case, a transactional profit split method will generally be the most appropriate method, see paragraph 2.119. However, a one-sided method (traditional transaction method or transactional net margin method) may be applicable in cases where one of the parties makes all the unique and valuable contributions involved in the controlled transaction, while the other party does not make any unique and valuable contribution. In such a case, the tested party should be the less complex one. See paragraphs 3.18-3.19 for a discussion of the notion of tested party ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.48

For example, assume that Company A manufactures and sells toasters to a distributor that is an associated enterprise, that Company B manufactures and sells irons to a distributor that is an independent enterprise, and that the profit margins on the manufacture of basic toasters and irons are generally the same in the small household appliance industry. (The use of the cost plus method here presumes that there are no highly similar independent toaster manufacturers). If the cost plus method were being applied, the mark ups being compared in the controlled and uncontrolled transactions would be the difference between the selling price by the manufacturer to the distributor and the costs of manufacturing the product, divided by the costs of manufacturing the product. However, Company A may be much more efficient in its manufacturing processes than Company B thereby enabling it to have lower costs. As a result, even if Company A were making irons instead of toasters and charging the ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter II paragraph 2.29

Following the principles in Chapter I, an uncontrolled transaction is comparable to a controlled transaction (i.e. it is a comparable uncontrolled transaction) for purposes of the resale price method if one of two conditions is met: a) none of the differences (if any) between the transactions being compared or between the enterprises undertaking those transactions could materially affect the resale price margin in the open market; or, b) reasonably accurate adjustments can be made to eliminate the material effects of such differences. In making comparisons for purposes of the resale price method, fewer adjustments are normally needed to account for product differences than under the CUP method, because minor product differences are less likely to have as material an effect on profit margins as they do on price ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.129

In practice, it has been observed that comparability analyses for methods based on gross or net profit indicators often put more emphasis on functional similarities than on product similarities. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, it may be acceptable to broaden the scope of the comparability analysis to include uncontrolled transactions involving products that are different, but where similar functions are undertaken. However, the acceptance of such an approach depends on the effects that the product differences have on the reliability of the comparison and on whether or not more reliable data are available. Before broadening the search to include a larger number of potentially comparable uncontrolled transactions based on similar functions being undertaken, thought should be given to whether such transactions are likely to offer reliable comparables for the controlled transaction ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.128

Depending on the transfer pricing method, this factor must be given more or less weight. Among the methods described at Chapter II of these Guidelines, the requirement for comparability of property or services is the strictest for the comparable uncontrolled price method. Under the comparable uncontrolled price method, any material difference in the characteristics of property or services can have an effect on the price and would require an appropriate adjustment to be considered (see in particular paragraph 2.16). Under the resale price method and cost plus method, some differences in the characteristics of property or services are less likely to have a material effect on the gross profit margin or mark-up on costs (see in particular paragraphs 2.29 and 2.47). Differences in the characteristics of property or services are also less sensitive in the case of the transactional profit methods than in the case of traditional transaction methods (see in particular paragraph 2.75). This however does not mean that ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.123

A weakness of the transactional profit split method relates to difficulties in its application. On first review, the transactional profit split method may appear readily accessible to both taxpayers and tax administrations because it tends to rely less on information about independent enterprises. However, associated enterprises and tax administrations alike may have difficulty accessing the detailed information required to apply a transactional profit split method reliably. It may be difficult to measure the relevant revenue and costs for all the associated enterprises participating in the controlled transactions, which could require stating books and records on a common basis and making adjustments in accounting practices and currencies. Further, when the transactional profit split method is applied to operating profit, it may be difficult to identify the appropriate operating expenses associated with the transactions and to allocate costs between the transactions and the associated enterprises’ other activities. Identifying the appropriate profit splitting factors can also be challenging. Given the necessity of applying ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.122

A further strength of the transactional profit split method is that all relevant parties to the transaction are directly evaluated as part of the pricing of the transaction, that is, the contributions of each party to the transaction are specifically identified and their relative values measured in order to determine an arm’s length compensation for each party in relation to the transaction ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.121

Another strength of the transactional profit split method is that it can offer flexibility by taking into account specific, possibly unique, facts and circumstances of the associated enterprises that may not be present in independent enterprises. Moreover, where there is a high degree of uncertainty for each of the parties in relation to a transaction, for example in transactions involving the shared assumption of economically significant risks by all parties (or the separate assumption of closely related economically significant risks), the flexibility of the transactional profit split method can allow for the determination of arm’s length profits for each party that vary with the actual outcomes of the risks associated with the transaction ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.120

The transactional profit split method can also provide a solution for highly integrated operations in cases for which a one-sided method would not be appropriate. See section C.2.2.2, below ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.119

The main strength of the transactional profit split method is that it can offer a solution for cases where both parties to a transaction make unique and valuable contributions (e.g. contribute unique and valuable intangibles) to the transaction. In such a case independent parties might effectively price the transaction in proportion to their respective contributions, making a two-sided method more appropriate. Furthermore, since those contributions are unique and valuable there will be no reliable comparables information which could be used to price the entirety of the transaction in a more reliable way, through the application of another method. In such cases, the allocation of profits under the transactional profit split method may be based on the contributions made by the associated enterprises, by reference to the relative values of their respective functions, assets and risks. See section C.2.2 below on the nature of the transaction ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.116

As is noted in paragraph 2.2, the selection of a transfer pricing method always aims at finding the most appropriate method for a particular case, taking into account the respective strengths and weaknesses of each method, its appropriateness in view of the nature of the accurately delineated controlled transaction, the availability of reliable information (in particular on uncontrolled comparables) needed for application, and the degree of comparability between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions. See also paragraphs 2.4 to 2.7 ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.76

The use of net profit indicators can potentially introduce a greater element of volatility into the determination of transfer prices for two reasons. First, net profit indicators can be influenced by some factors that do not have an effect (or have a less substantial or direct effect) on gross margins and prices, because of the potential for variation of operating expenses across enterprises. Second, net profit indicators can be influenced by some of the same factors, such as competitive position, that can influence price and gross margins, but the effect of these factors may not be as readily eliminated. In the traditional transaction methods, the effect of these factors may be eliminated as a natural consequence of insisting upon greater product and function similarity. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and in particular on the effect of the functional differences on the cost structure and on the revenue of the potential comparables, net profit indicators can be ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.72

Like the resale price and cost plus methods, the transactional net margin method is applied to only one of the associated enterprises. The fact that many factors unrelated to transfer prices may affect net profits, in conjunction with the one-sided nature of the analysis under this method, can affect the overall reliability of the transactional net margin method if an insufficient standard of comparability is applied. Detailed guidance on establishing comparability for the transactional net margin method is given in Section B.3.1 below ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.70

There are also a number of weaknesses to the transactional net margin method. The net profit indicator of a taxpayer can be influenced by some factors that would either not have an effect, or have a less substantial or direct effect, on price or gross margins between independent parties. These aspects may make accurate and reliable determinations of arm’s length net profit indicators difficult. Thus, it is important to provide some detailed guidance on establishing comparability for the transactional net margin method, as set forth in paragraphs 2.74-2.81 below ... Read more

TPG2017 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

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.68

One strength of the transactional net margin method is that net profit indicators (e.g. return on assets, operating income to sales, and possibly other measures of net profit) are less affected by transactional differences than is the case with price, as used in the CUP method. Net profit indicators also may be more tolerant to some functional differences between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions than gross profit margins. Differences in the functions performed between enterprises are often reflected in variations in operating expenses. Consequently, this may lead to a wide range of gross profit margins but still broadly similar levels of net operating profit indicators. In addition, in some countries the lack of clarity in the public data with respect to the classification of expenses in the gross or operating profits may make it difficult to evaluate the comparability of gross margins, while the use of net profit indicators may avoid the problem. (An example illustrating the sensitivity of gross ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.65

A transactional net margin method is unlikely to be reliable if each party to a transaction makes unique and valuable contributions, see paragraph 2.4. In such a case, a transactional profit split method will generally be the most appropriate method, see paragraph 2.115. However, a one-sided method (traditional transaction method or transactional net margin method) may be applicable in cases where one of the parties makes all the unique and valuable contributions involved in the controlled transaction, while the other party does not make any unique and valuable contribution. In such a case, the tested party should be the less complex one. See paragraphs 3.18-3.19 for a discussion of the notion of tested party ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.48

For example, assume that Company A manufactures and sells toasters to a distributor that is an associated enterprise, that Company B manufactures and sells irons to a distributor that is an independent enterprise, and that the profit margins on the manufacture of basic toasters and irons are generally the same in the small household appliance industry. (The use of the cost plus method here presumes that there are no highly similar independent toaster manufacturers). If the cost plus method were being applied, the mark ups being compared in the controlled and uncontrolled transactions would be the difference between the selling price by the manufacturer to the distributor and the costs of manufacturing the product, divided by the costs of manufacturing the product. However, Company A may be much more efficient in its manufacturing processes than Company B thereby enabling it to have lower costs. As a result, even if Company A were making irons instead of toasters and charging the ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter II paragraph 2.29

Following the principles in Chapter I, an uncontrolled transaction is comparable to a controlled transaction (i.e. it is a comparable uncontrolled transaction) for purposes of the resale price method if one of two conditions is met: a) none of the differences (if any) between the transactions being compared or between the enterprises undertaking those transactions could materially affect the resale price margin in the open market; or, b) reasonably accurate adjustments can be made to eliminate the material effects of such differences. In making comparisons for purposes of the resale price method, fewer adjustments are normally needed to account for product differences than under the CUP method, because minor product differences are less likely to have as material an effect on profit margins as they do on price ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter I paragraph 1.109

In practice, it has been observed that comparability analyses for methods based on gross or net profit indicators often put more emphasis on functional similarities than on product similarities. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, it may be acceptable to broaden the scope of the comparability analysis to include uncontrolled transactions involving products that are different, but where similar functions are undertaken. However, the acceptance of such an approach depends on the effects that the product differences have on the reliability of the comparison and on whether or not more reliable data are available. Before broadening the search to include a larger number of potentially comparable uncontrolled transactions based on similar functions being undertaken, thought should be given to whether such transactions are likely to offer reliable comparables for the controlled transaction ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter I paragraph 1.108

Depending on the transfer pricing method, this factor must be given more or less weight. Among the methods described at Chapter II of these Guidelines, the requirement for comparability of property or services is the strictest for the comparable uncontrolled price method. Under the comparable uncontrolled price method, any material difference in the characteristics of property or services can have an effect on the price and would require an appropriate adjustment to be considered (see in particular paragraph 2.16). Under the resale price method and cost plus method, some differences in the characteristics of property or services are less likely to have a material effect on the gross profit margin or mark-up on costs (see in particular paragraphs 2.29 and 2.47). Differences in the characteristics of property or services are also less sensitive in the case of the transactional profit methods than in the case of traditional transaction methods (see in particular paragraph 2.75). This however does not mean that ... Read more