Tag: Oil and gas

§ 1.482-3(b)(5)(iii) Example 1.

Use of Quotation Medium. (i) On June 1, USOil, a United States corporation, enters into a contract to purchase crude oil from its foreign subsidiary, FS, in Country Z. USOil and FS agree to base their sales price on the average of the prices published for that crude in a quotation medium in the five days before August 1, the date set for delivery. USOil and FS agree to adjust the price for the particular circumstances of their transactions, including the quantity of the crude sold, contractual terms, transportation costs, risks borne, and other factors that affect the price. (ii) The quotation medium used by USOil and FS is widely and routinely used in the ordinary course of business in the industry to establish prices for uncontrolled sales. Because USOil and FS use the data to set their sales price in the same way that unrelated parties use the data from the quotation medium to set their sales prices, and ... Read more
Norway vs Equinor Energy AS, August 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-126759

Norway vs Equinor Energy AS, August 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-126759

The case concerned pricing of the wet gas in FY 2012-2014 sold between Equinor Energy (subsidiary) and Equinor ASA (parent). The intra-group sales from Equinor Energy to Equinor were regulated by an internal agreement that was entered into as part of the transfer of rights in 2009. The income that Equinor Energy receives from the internal sales is subject to section 5 of the Petroleum Tax Act with a special tax that comes in addition to the general income tax. This means that Equinor Energy had a total tax burden of 78%. Equinor, for its part, is charged with ordinary income tax, which was 27/28%. In 2012 the pricing model was changed rom the so-called “OTS price model” to a “dividend model”, which led to the price (and taxable income in Equinor Energy) being reduced compared to the previously used pricing model. The reason stated by the group for this change was that Equinor Energy had later entered into an agreement ... Read more
Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, May 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2022-18585

Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, May 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2022-18585

In 2011, Petrolia SE established a wholly owned subsidiary in Norway – Petrolia Noco AS – to conduct oil exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf. From the outset, Petrolia Noco AS received a loan from the parent company Petrolia SE. The written loan agreement was first signed later on 15 May 2012. The loan limit was originally MNOK 100 with an agreed interest rate of 3 months NIBOR with the addition of a margin of 2.25 percentage points. When the loan agreement was formalized in writing in 2012, the agreed interest rate was changed to 3 months NIBOR with the addition of an interest margin of 10 percentage points. The loan limit was increased to MNOK 150 in September 2012, and then to MNOK 330 in April 2013. In the tax return for 2012 and 2013, Petrolia Noco AS demanded a full deduction for actual interest costs on the intra-group loan to the parent company Petrolia SE. An assessment was ... Read more
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
Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

A Danish parent in the Maersk group’s oil and gas segment, Maersk Oil and Gas A/S (Mogas), had operating losses for FY 1986 to 2010, although the combined segment was highly profitable. The reoccurring losses was explained by the tax authorities as being a result of the group’s transfer pricing setup. “Mogas and its subsidiaries and branches are covered by the definition of persons in Article 2(1) of the Tax Act, which concerns group companies and permanent establishments abroad, it being irrelevant whether the subsidiaries and branches form part of local joint ventures. Mogas bears the costs of exploration and studies into the possibility of obtaining mining licences. The expenditure is incurred in the course of the company’s business of exploring for oil and gas deposits. The company is entitled to deduct the costs in accordance with Section 8B(2) of the Danish Income Tax Act. Mogas is responsible for negotiating licences and the terms thereof and for bearing the costs ... Read more
Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

In 2009-2011 Fortis Petroleum Norway AS (FPN) bought seismic data related to oil exploration in the North Sea from a related party, Petroleum GeoServices AS (PGS), for NKR 95.000.000. FBN paid the amount by way of a convertible intra-group loan from PGS in the same amount. FPN also purchased administrative services from another related party, Consema, and later paid a substantial termination fee when the service contract was terminated. The acquisition costs, interest on the loan, costs for services and termination fees had all been deducted in the taxable income of the company for the years in question. Central to this case is the exploration refund scheme on the Norwegian shelf. This essentially means that exploration companies can demand cash payment of the tax value of exploration costs, cf. the Petroleum Tax Act § 3 letter c) fifth paragraph. If the taxpayer does not have income to cover an exploration cost, the company receives payment / refund of the tax ... Read more
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
Norway vs Neptune Energy Norge AS, February 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-8008 – UTV-2022-697

Norway vs Neptune Energy Norge AS, February 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LG-2021-8008 – UTV-2022-697

The question in the case was whether a Norwegian company had received an arm’s length price when selling gas to a French company in the same group. Judgement of the Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that the agreed transfer price had not been at arm’s length and this meant a reduction in income for the Norwegian company. The Appeal Board for Petroleum Tax’s decision was upheld.  Click here for English translation. Click here for other translation LG-2021-8008-–-UTV-2022-697-ORG ... Read more
Colombia vs Petroleum Exploration International Sucursal Colombia S.A., November 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 25000-23-37-000-2016-01988-01(24028)

Colombia vs Petroleum Exploration International Sucursal Colombia S.A., November 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 25000-23-37-000-2016-01988-01(24028)

Article 260-8 of the Colombian Tax Statute established which taxpayers were obliged to file Transfer pricing documentation. The rule established two requirements for income taxpayers to be obliged to file DIIPT in the year 2010, the first is to have obtained a gross equity on 31 December of the taxable period of 100.100,000 UVT ($2,455,500,000) or gross income of 61,000 UVT ($1,497,855,000), and the second is to have carried out operations with economic associates or related parties domiciled abroad. In the present case, a Colombian branch of Petroleum Exploration International S.A presented a total gross income of $18,496,716,000 in the income tax return for 2010, and therefore complied with the first requirement. As for the second requirement, it is noted that according to the certificate of existence and legal representation of Colombian branch, it is a branch of the company Petroleum Exploration International S.A. whose principal place of business is Panama. (…) In the accounting inspection report of 2 April ... Read more
Korea vs "K-GAS Corp", November 2021, Daegu District Court, Case No 2019구합22561

Korea vs “K-GAS Corp”, November 2021, Daegu District Court, Case No 2019구합22561

K-GAS Corp had issued loans and performance guarantees to overseas subsidiaries but received no remuneration in return. The tax authorities issued an assessment where additional taxable income was determined by application of the arm’s length principle. An appeal was filed by K-GAS with the district court. Decision of the Court The court upheld the decision of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of K-GAS Corp. Excerpts related to loans “In light of the following circumstances, which can be known by the above acknowledged facts, in light of the above legal principles, it is not economically reasonable for the Plaintiff to decide not to receive interest on the self-financing portion of the case loan to the subsidiaries in question 1 until the end of the exploration phase, and there is no illegality in the method of calculating the normal price of the Defendant. … …the Plaintiff lent the money raised from the outside to the subsidiaries in the first issue, ... Read more
Colombia vs Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A., September 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 24282

Colombia vs Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A., September 2021, The Administrative Court, Case No. 24282

Interoil Colombia Exploration and Production S.A. paid it foreign parent for cost related to exploration and administrative services, and for tax purposes these costs had been deducted in the taxable income. In total $3,571,353,600 had been declared as operating expenses for geological and geophysical studies carried out in the exploratory phase of an oil project and $5.548.680.347 had been declared for administrative services rendered from its parent company abroad Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment where these deductions was denied. In regards of cost related to exploration, these should have been recorded as a deferred charge amortisable over up to five years, according to articles 142 and 143 of the Tax Statute. In accordance with Article 142, these investments are recorded as deferred assets and are also declared for tax purposes. (…) According to the general accounting regulations – Decree 2649 of 1993 – deferred assets are part of the company’s assets, and correspond to anticipated expenses ... Read more
Ukrain vs PJSP Gals-K, July 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 620/1767/19

Ukrain vs PJSP Gals-K, July 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 620/1767/19

Ukrainian company “PJSP Gals-K” had been involved in various controlled transactions – complex technological drilling services; sale of crude oil; transfer of fixed assets etc. The tax authority found, that prices had not been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle and issued a tax assessment. Gals-K disagreed and filed a complaint. The Administrative Court dismissed the tax assessment and this decision was later upheld by the Administrative Court of Appeal. Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The Supreme Court set aside the decisions of the Court of Appeal and remanded the case to the court of first instance for a new hearing. The court considered that breaches of procedural and substantive law by both the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance have been committed, and the case should therefore be referred to the Court of First Instance for a new hearing. Excerpts “Thus, in order to properly resolve the dispute in this part, the courts ... Read more
Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Ensco Gerudi provided offshore drilling services to the petroleum industry in Malaysia, including leasing drilling rigs, to oil and gas operators in Malaysia. In order to provide these services, the Ensco entered into a Master Charter Agreement dated 21.9.2006 (amended on 17.8.2011) (“Master Charter Agreement”) with Ensco Labuan Limited (“ELL”), a third-party contractor, to lease drilling rigs from ELL. Ensco then rents out the drilling rigs to its own customers. As part of the Master Charter Agreement, Ensco agreed to pay ELL a percentage of the applicable day rate that Ensco earns from its drilling contracts with its customers for the drilling rigs. By way of a letter dated 12.10.2018, the tax authorities initiated its audit for FY 2015 to 2017. The tax authorities issued its first audit findings letter on 23.10.2019 where it took the position that the pricing of the leasing transactions between the Applicant and ELL are not at arm’s length pursuant to s 140A of the ... Read more
Netherlands vs "Related Party B.V.", July 2021, District Court, Case No ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2021:3382

Netherlands vs “Related Party B.V.”, July 2021, District Court, Case No ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2021:3382

In 2013 “Related Party B.V” entered into an agreement with “X BV” for the provision of transportation- and support services for oil and gas. The Dutch tax authority suspected that the parties were affiliated within the meaning of Section 8b of the Corporate Income Tax Act 1969. Decision of Court The Court decided in favor of the tax authority. Based on the documents in the case, the tax authority rightly suspected that there was an affiliation within the meaning of Section 8b of the Corporate Income Tax Act. The tax authority was therefore entitled to reasonably issue information decisions for the Vpb for 2013 to 2016 inclusive. Nemo Tenetur Principle – self incrimination “Related Party B.V” argued that it’s right not to incriminate itself had been violated because the information decision(s) had been issued to examine the possibility of imposing a fine. In this regard, the court observed that pursuant to the law a taxpayer is obliged to provide the ... Read more
Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, March 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2020-5842

Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, March 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2020-5842

In 2011, Petrolia SE established a wholly owned subsidiary in Norway – Petrolia Noco AS – to conduct oil exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf. From the outset, Petrolia Noco AS received a loan from the parent company Petrolia SE. The written loan agreement was first signed later on 15 May 2012. The loan limit was originally MNOK 100 with an agreed interest rate of 3 months NIBOR with the addition of a margin of 2.25 percentage points. When the loan agreement was formalized in writing in 2012, the agreed interest rate was changed to 3 months NIBOR with the addition of an interest margin of 10 percentage points. The loan limit was increased to MNOK 150 in September 2012, and then to MNOK 330 in April 2013. In the tax return for 2012 and 2013, Petrolia Noco AS demanded a full deduction for actual interest costs on the intra-group loan to the parent company Petrolia SE. Following an audit ... Read more
Ukrain vs PJSC "Azot", January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 826/17841/17

Ukrain vs PJSC “Azot”, January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 826/17841/17

Azot is a producer of mineral fertilizers and one of the largest industrial groups in Ukraine. Following an audit the tax authorities concluded that Azot’s export of mineral fertilizers to a related party in Switzerland, NF Trading AG, had been priced significantly below the arm’s length price, and moreover that Azot’s import of natural gas from Russia via a related party in Cyprus, Ostchem Holding Limited, had been priced significantly above the arm’s length price. On that basis, an assessment of additional corporate income tax in the amount of 43 million UAH and a decrease in the negative value by 195 million UAH was issued. In a decision from 2019 the Administrative Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities. This decision was then appealed by Azot to the Supreme Administrative Court. The Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the appeal and decided in favor of the tax authorities. Click here for translation Єдиний державний реєстр судових рішень ... Read more
Romania vs "GAS distributor" SC A, December 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No 238/12.03.2020

Romania vs “GAS distributor” SC A, December 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No 238/12.03.2020

The disputed issue concerns the purchase prices of natural gas by SC A from an affiliated company SC B. By orders of the National Energy Regulatory Authority (NERA), the prices of supply of natural gas to domestic and non-domestic consumers were regulated and fixed, but not the price at which SC A purchased it from the SC B. The tax authority issued an assessment where the price of the controlled gas transaction was determined by reference to profit level indicators of comparable businesses. SC A brought the decision to the Romanian courts. Judgement of the Court of Appeal The appeal of SC A was dismissed and the assessment of the tax authorities upheld. Excerpt “In the present case, in order to adjust the expenses for the cost of the goods purchased from SC “B.” SRL, based on the level of the central market trend, the tax body used the information provided by the ORBIS and FISCNET applications. Following the comparative ... Read more
UK vs Total E&P North Sea UK Ltd, October 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/1656

UK vs Total E&P North Sea UK Ltd, October 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/1656

Companies carrying on “oil-related activities” are subject to both corporation tax and a “supplementary charge”. “Oil-related activities” are treated as a separate trade and the income from them represents “ring fence profits” on which corporation tax is charged. The “supplementary charge” is levied on “adjusted” ring fence profits, in calculating which financing costs are left out of account. Between 2006 and 2011, the supplementary charge amounted to 20% of adjusted ring fence profits. On 23 March 2011, however, it was announced that the supplementary charge would be increased to 32% from midnight. The change in rate was subsequently carried into effect by section 7 of the Finance Act 2011, which received the royal assent on 19 July 2011. Total E&P, previously Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited and Maersk Oil UK Limited, carried on “oil-related activities” and so were subject to the supplementary charge. The question raised by the appeal is how much of each company’s adjusted ring fence profits ... Read more
Norway vs A/S Norske Shell, May 2020, Supreme Court, Case No HR-2020-1130-A

Norway vs A/S Norske Shell, May 2020, Supreme Court, Case No HR-2020-1130-A

A / S Norske Shell runs petroleum activities on the Norwegian continental shelf. By the judgment of the Court of Appeal in 2019, it had been decided that there was a basis for a discretionary tax assessment pursuant to section 13-1 of the Tax Act, based on the fact that costs for research and development in Norway should have been distributed among the other group members. According to section 13-1 third paragraph of the Norwegian Tax Act the Norwegian the arms length provisions must take into account OECD’s Transfer pricing guidelines. And according to the Court of Appeal the Petroleum Tax Appeals Board had correctly concluded – based on the fact – that this was a cost contribution arrangement. Hence the income determination then had to be in accordance with what follows from the OECD guidelines for such arrangements (TPG Chapter VIII). The question before the Supreme Court was whether this additional income assessment should also include the part of ... Read more
Malaysia vs Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd, November 2019, High Court, Case No BA-25-68-08/2019

Malaysia vs Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd, November 2019, High Court, Case No BA-25-68-08/2019

The principal activity of Shell Services Asia Sdn Bhd in Malaysia is to provide services to related companies within the Shell Group. For FY 2011 – 2016 the company was part of a contractual arrangement for the sharing of services and resources within the Shell Group as provided in a Cost Contribution Arrangement. The tax authorities conducted a transfer pricing audit, and based on the findings, issued a tax assessment, where the Cost Contribution Arrangement had instead been characterised as an intra-group services arrangement. As a result the taxable income was adjusted upwards by imposing a markup on the total costs of the services provided for fiscal years 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Consequently, the company had to pay the additional taxes in the amount of: RM 3,474,978.44; RM 2,559,754.38; RM 7,096,984.69; RM 2,537,458.50; RM 15,669,176.01. The company did not agree with the proposal and an appeal for leave was filed with the High Court related to statutory powers/legal jurisdiction of the authorities ... Read more
Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, November 2019, Oslo Court -2019-48963 – UTV-2020-104

Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, November 2019, Oslo Court -2019-48963 – UTV-2020-104

In 2011, Petrolia SE established a wholly owned subsidiary in Norway – Petrolia Noco AS – to conduct oil exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf. From the outset Petrolia Noco AS received a loan from the parent company Petrolia SE. The written loan agreement was first signed later on 15 May 2012. The loan limit was originally MNOK 100 with an agreed interest rate of 3 months NIBOR with the addition of a margin of 2.25 percentage points. When the loan agreement was formalized in writing in 2012, the agreed interest rate was changed to 3 months NIBOR with the addition of an interest margin of 10 percentage points. The loan limit was increased to MNOK 150 in September 2012, and then to MNOK 330 in April 2013. In the tax return for 2012 and 2013, Petrolia Noco AS demanded a full deduction for actual interest costs on the intra-group loan to the parent company Petrolia SE. Following an audit ... Read more
Panama vs Chevron Panama Fuels Limited, October 2019, Administrative Court of Appeals, Case no 1060 (559-19)

Panama vs Chevron Panama Fuels Limited, October 2019, Administrative Court of Appeals, Case no 1060 (559-19)

The Transfer Pricing Department of the General Directorate of Revenue of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, through Resolution 201-1429 of 24 October 2014, decided to sanction the taxpayer Chevron Products Antilles, LTD, now Chevron Panama Fuels Limited, with a fine of one million balboas (B/. 1,000,000.00), for failure to file the Transfer Pricing Report-Form 930 for the 2012 tax period. As a result of the issuance of the resolution mentioned in the previous paragraph, Chevron’s legal representative filed an appeal for reconsideration with the tax authority, which was resolved by Resolution 201-1321 of 1 March 2016, through which the accused act was maintained in all its parts. This resolution was notified to the taxpayer on 8 April 2016. Chevron then filed an appeal before the Administrative Tax Court, which by Resolution TAT-RF-057 of 22 May 2019, confirmed the provisions of the main administrative act and its confirmatory act, being notified of this appeal ruling on 18 June 2019, thus ... Read more
Ukrain vs Rivneazot, September 2019, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 817/1737/17

Ukrain vs Rivneazot, September 2019, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 817/1737/17

The Ukrainian group Rivneazot imports natural gas from – and exports mineral to – foreign related companies. The tax authority carried out an audit and concluded that the controlled prices of these transactions had not been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle, which had resulted in an understatement of taxable income. Rivneazot disagreed. According to the company the CUP method had correctly been applied to the controlled natural gas import transactions and the TNMM had correctly been applied to the controlled export transactions. In 2018 the Administrative Court decided in favor of Rivneazon and set aside the tax assessment. The court concluded that information provided by the company were sufficient to use the preferred CUP method with a defined market price range for natural gas. The decision was then appealed to the Administrative Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Administrative court. This decision was then appealed by the tax authorities to the ... Read more
Norway vs Saipem Drilling Norway AS, August 2019, Borgarting lagmannsrett, Case No LB-2018-55099 – UTV-2019-698

Norway vs Saipem Drilling Norway AS, August 2019, Borgarting lagmannsrett, Case No LB-2018-55099 – UTV-2019-698

In the Saipem case the Norwegian tax authorities found that the price paid by a related party for an oil rig had not been at arm’s length and issued an assessment. The majority of judges in the Court of Appeal found that the tax assessment was valid. The tax authorities had made sound and well-reasoned assessments and concluded that the price was outside the arm’s length range. According to the decision courts may show reluctance in testing discretionary assessments, thus giving the authorities a reasonable room for pricing transactions where the value is highly uncertain. An appeal of the case to the Supreme Court was not allowed (HR-2019-2428-U). Click here for translation Norway vs Saipem August 2019 ... Read more
Ukrain vs PJSC "Azot", March 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 826/17841/17

Ukrain vs PJSC “Azot”, March 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 826/17841/17

Azot is a producer of mineral fertilizers and one of the largest industrial groups in Ukraine. Following an audit the tax authorities concluded that Azot’s export of mineral fertilizers to a related party in Switzerland, NF Trading AG, had been priced significantly below the arm’s length price, and moreover that Azot’s import of natural gas from Russia via a related party in Cyprus, Ostchem Holding Limited, had been priced significantly above the arm’s length price. On that basis, an assessment of additional corporate income tax in the amount of 43 million UAH and a decrease in the negative value by 195 million UAH was issued. The Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities. Click here for translation UK v Az 2019 ... Read more
Transfer Pricing in the Mining Industry

Transfer Pricing in the Mining Industry

Like other sectors of the economy, there are base erosion and profit shifting risks in the mining sector. Based on the ongoing work on BEPS, the IGF (Intergovernmental Forum on Mining) and OECD has released guidance for source countries on transfer pricing in the mining sector. The transfer pricing and tax avoidance issues identified in the sector are: 1. Excessive Interest Deductions Companies may use related-party debt to shift profit offshore via excessive interest payments to related entities. “Debt shifting” is not unique to mining, but it is particularly significant for mining projects that require high levels of capital investment not directly obtainable from third parties, making substantial related-party borrowing a frequent practice. 2. Abusive Transfer Pricing Transfer pricing occurs when one company sells a good or service to another related company. Because these transactions are internal, they are not subject to market pricing and can be used by multinationals to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions. Related-party transactions in mining ... Read more
Russia vs Togliattiazot, September 2018, Russian Arbitration Court, Case No. No. А55-1621 / 2018

Russia vs Togliattiazot, September 2018, Russian Arbitration Court, Case No. No. А55-1621 / 2018

A Russian company, Togliattiazot, supplied ammonia to the external market through a Swiss trading hub, Nitrochem Distribution AG. The tax authority found that the selling price of the ammonia to Nitrochem Distribution AG had not been determined by Togliattiazot in accordance with the arm’s length principle but had been to low. Hence, a transfer pricing assessment was issued where the CUP method was applied. At first, the company argued that Togliattiazot and Nitrochem Distribution AG were not even affiliates. Later, the company argued that transfer prices had been determined in accordance with the TNM-method. The court ruled in favor of the Russian tax authority. Based on information gathered by the tax authorities – SPARK-Interfax and Orbis Bureau Van Djik bases, Switzerland’s trade register, Internet sites, and e-mail correspondence etc – the tax authorities were able to prove in court, the presence of actual control between Togliattiazot and Nitrochem. The TNMM method applied by Togliattiazot was rejected by the court because ... Read more

TPG2018 Chapter II paragraph 2.167

One possible approach is to split the relevant profits based on the division of profits that actually is observed in comparable uncontrolled transactions. Examples of possible sources of information on uncontrolled transactions that might usefully assist the determination of criteria to split the profits, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, include joint-venture arrangements between independent parties under which profits are shared, such as development projects in the oil and gas industry; pharmaceutical collaborations, co-marketing or co-promotion agreements; arrangements between independent music record labels and music artists; uncontrolled arrangements in the financial services sector, etc ... Read more
Tax avoidance in Australia

Tax avoidance in Australia

In May 2018 the final report on corporate tax avoidance in Australia was published by the Australian Senate. The report contains the findings, conclusions and recommendations based on 4 years of hearings and investigations into tax avoidance practices by multinationals in Australia. Australian-final-report-on-tax-avoidance ... Read more

South Africa vs. Sasol, Oct. 2017, $878 million tax case

A tax dispute over a potential 11.6 billion rand ($878 million) charge between South Africa -based international chemicals and energy company Sasol and the Revenue Service will play out in South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal within the next 12 months. June 30. 2017 a R1.2-billion tax liability was approved by the Tax Court in a case against Sasol by SARS relating to the company’s international crude oil procurement activities between 2005 and 2012. The Tax Court further reported that the final tax amount along with other tax principles raised by SARS in relation to Sasol Oil’s crude purchases in 2013 and 2014, would result in a further tax exposure of R11.6-billion, thus uplifting the total tax liability to R12.8-billion. Aug. 14. 2017 the supreme court granted Sasol’s application for leave to appeal the tax court ruling. Sasol’s dispute with the tax authority comes after Kumba Iron Ore, Anglo American’s iron ore producer, announced it had settled a tax dispute ... Read more
South Africa vs Sasol, 30 June 2017, Tax Court, Case No. TC-2017-06 - TCIT 13065

South Africa vs Sasol, 30 June 2017, Tax Court, Case No. TC-2017-06 – TCIT 13065

The taxpayer is registered and incorporated in the Republic of South Africa and carries on business in the petrochemical industry. It has some of its subsidiaries in foreign jurisdictions. Business activities include the importation and refinement of crude oil. This matter concerns the analysis of supply agreements entered into between the XYZ Corp and some of its foreign subsidiaries. It thus brings to fore, inter alia the application of the South African developing fiscal legal principles, namely, residence based taxation, section 9D of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 and other established principles of tax law, such as anti-tax avoidance provisions and substance over form. Tax avoidance is the use of legal methods to modify taxpayer’s financial situation to reduce the amount of tax that is payable SARS’s ground of assessment is that the XYZ Group structure constituted a transaction, operation or scheme as contemplated in section 103(1) of the Act. The structure had the effect of avoiding liability ... Read more
Russia vs Dulisma Oil, January 2017, Russian Court Case No. A40-123426 / 16-140-1066

Russia vs Dulisma Oil, January 2017, Russian Court Case No. A40-123426 / 16-140-1066

This case relates to sales of crude oil from the Russian company, Dulisma Oil,  to an unrelated trading company, Concept Oil Ltd, registered in Hong Kong. The Russian tax authorities found that the price at which oil was sold deviated from quotations published by the Platts price reporting agency. They found that the prices for particular deliveries had been lower than the arm’s length price and issued a tax assessment and penalties of RUB 177 million. Dulisma Oil had set the prices using quotations published by Platts, which is a common practice in crude oil trading. The contract price was determined as the mean of average quotations for Dubai crude on publication days agreed upon by the parties, minus a differential determined before the delivery date “on the basis of the situation prevailing on the market”. Transfer pricing documentation had not been prepared, and the company also failed to explain the method by which the price had been calculated and how the price ... Read more
Russia vs ZAO NK Dulisma, January 2017, Court of Appeal, Case No. А40-123426/2016

Russia vs ZAO NK Dulisma, January 2017, Court of Appeal, Case No. А40-123426/2016

In 2012, ZAO NK Dulisma, a Russian oil and gas company, sold crude oil via an unrelated Hong Kong-based trader. In Russia, transactions with unrelated parties may be deemed controlled transactions for Transfer Pricing purposes, provided certain conditions are met. The Russian Tax Authorities audited the transactions with the Hong Kong trader and found that the price had been understated. The arm’s length price was determined using a CUP method, based on data from Platts quote for Dubai grade oil, adjusted for quality and terms of delivery etc. The court ruled in favor of the tax authorities, confirming that the application of the CUP method and the use of Platts data was justified. Click here for translation A40-123426-2016 ... Read more
Norway vs. ConocoPhillips, October 2016, Supreme Court HR-2016-988-A, Case No. 2015/1044)

Norway vs. ConocoPhillips, October 2016, Supreme Court HR-2016-988-A, Case No. 2015/1044)

A tax assessments based on anti-avoidance doctrine “gjennomskjæring” were set aside. The case dealt with the benefits of a multi-currency cash pool arrangement. The court held that the decisive question was whether the allocation of the benefits was done at arm’s length. The court dismissed the argument that the benefits should accure to the parent company as only common control between the parties which should be disregarded. The other circumstances regarding the actual transaction should be recognized when pricing the transaction. In order to achieve an arm’s length price, the comparison must take into account all characteristics of the controlled transaction except the parties’ association with each other. While the case was before the Supreme Court, the Oil Tax Board made a new amendment decision, which also included a tax assessment for 2002. This amendment, which was based on the same anti-avoidance considerations, was on its own to the company’s advantage. Following the Supreme Court judgment, a new amended decision was made in 2009, which reversed the anti-avoidance decision for all three years ... Read more
Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi, June 2016, High Court, Case No. 14-11-08-2014

Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi, June 2016, High Court, Case No. 14-11-08-2014

Ensco Gerudi provided offshore drilling services to the petroleum industry in Malaysia. The company did not own any drilling rigs, but entered into leasing agreements with a rig owner within the Ensco Group. One of the rig owners in the group incorporated a Labuan company to facilitate easier business dealings for the taxpayer. Ensco Gerudi entered into a leasing agreement with the Labuan company for the rigs. Unlike previous transactions, the leasing payments made to the Labuan company did not attract withholding tax. The tax authorities found the Labuan company had no economic or commercial substance and that the purpose of the transaction had only been to benefit from the tax reduction. The High Court decided in favour of the taxpayer. The Court held that there was nothing artificial about the payments and that the transactions were within the meaning and scope of the arrangements contemplated by the government in openly offering incentives. The High Court ruled that taxpayers have ... Read more
Norway vs. Total E&P Norge AS, October 2015, Supreme Court 2014/498, ref no. HR-2015-00699-A

Norway vs. Total E&P Norge AS, October 2015, Supreme Court 2014/498, ref no. HR-2015-00699-A

Total E&P Norge AS (Total) is engaged in petroleum exploration and production activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Income from such activities is subject to a special petroleum tax, in addition to the normal corporate tax, resulting in a total nominal tax rate of 78%. In 2002-2007, Total sold gas to the controlled trading companies, and the trading companies resold the gas to third parties on the open market. The Supreme Court concluded that Total did not have a right to full access to the comparables. Although section 3-13 (4) of the Tax Assessment Act states that information subject to confidentiality may be given to third parties with the effect that such third parties are subject to the same duty of confidentiality, this rule could not, according to the Supreme Court, be applied in the present case. This was because the very point of the confidentiality obligation in this case was to avoid business secrets’ being shared with competitors such ... Read more
El Salvador vs Distribuidora Salvadorena de Petroleo S.A. DE C.V., September 2013, Supreme Court, Case No 386-2010

El Salvador vs Distribuidora Salvadorena de Petroleo S.A. DE C.V., September 2013, Supreme Court, Case No 386-2010

Distribuidora Salvadorena de Petroleo S.A. DE C.V. (DSP), is active in “the wholesale and retail marketing of oil, derivatives, gas, lubricants, additives and energy in general. Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment regarding sale of oil. According to the authorities the prices determined by DSP for oil sold to a related party – Nejapa Power Company L.L.C. – had not been at arm’s length. An appeal was filed by the DSP. Judgement of the Supreme Court The court set aside the assessment and decided in favour of DSP. “The method of estimated, indexed or presumptive base is constructed through the use of indications, its application becomes indispensable when the Tax Administration does not have the direct means to provide it with certain data, the failure to file returns or those filed by the taxpayers do not allow the knowledge of the data necessary for the complete estimation of the taxable bases or income, or when the taxpayers ... Read more
Norway vs. Statoil Angola, 2007, Supreme Court, No. RT 2007-1025

Norway vs. Statoil Angola, 2007, Supreme Court, No. RT 2007-1025

Two inter-company loans were provided to Statoil Angola by it’s Norwegian parent company, Statoil Norway ASA, and a Belgian sister company, Statoil Belgium (SCC). Statoil Angola only had the financial capacity to borrow an amount equal to the loan from Statoil Belgium. Hence, no interest was paid on the loan from Statoil Norway. The tax authorities divided Statoil Angola’s borrowing capacity between the two loans and imputed interest payments on part of the loan from Statoil Norway in an assessment for the years 2000 and 2001. The Supreme Court, in a split 3/2 decision, found that Statoil’s allocation of the full borrowing capacity of Statoil Angola to the loan from the sister company in Belgium was based on commercial reasoning and in accordance with the arm’s length principle. The Court majority argued that Statoil Norway – unlike Statoil Belgium – had a 100% ownership of Statoil Angola, and the lack of interest income would therefore be compensated by an increased ... Read more
Sweden vs Svenske Shell AB, October 1991, Supreme Administrative Court, Case no RÅ 1991 ref. 107

Sweden vs Svenske Shell AB, October 1991, Supreme Administrative Court, Case no RÅ 1991 ref. 107

Svenske Shell AB imported crude oil from its UK sister company SIPC over a five-year period. Imports included the purchase and shipping of crude oil to the port of Gothenburg i Sweden from different parts of the world. The price of the oil was based on a framework agreement entered into between the parties, while the freight was calculated based on templates with no direct connection to the actual individual transport. The tax authorities considered that the pricing in both parts was incorrect and therefore partially refused deduction of the costs of oil imports. The assessment (and the later judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court) was based on the wording of the former Swedish “arm’s length” provision dating back to 1965. Decision of Court The Court did not consider that a price deviation has been sufficiently established where the applied price of only a single transaction deviates from the market price. Applying such a narrow view on price comparisons in ... Read more