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.
“Thus, in order to properly resolve the dispute in this part, the courts must determine, on the basis of the relevant and admissible evidence, whether the oil sales by the plaintiff to the non-resident GFF AG (Swiss Confederation) are controlled transactions within the meaning of paragraph 39. 2.1 of Article 39.2 of Article 39 of the Code of Ukraine.
In this case, when establishing the validity of the position on the extension of the provisions of Article 39 of the CP of Ukraine to other legal relationships, the courts should also assess the validity of the opinion of the State Traffic Department regarding the improper valuation by the caller of a controlled operation when using the method of “comparative uncontrolled price”. For example, in the SO No. 35/4, the price that was set at the auction (auction certificate No. A185-186 of 23 January 2014 for the sale of oil on the domestic market) was reversed as the price of the export of oil from GFF AG to Orlen Lietuva.”
“According to the appellant’s position, the transfer of the tangible fixed assets by the managing directorate of SD No 35/4 in the name of all the parties to the contract to one of the parties (PJSC “Ukrnafta”) in the person of its structural division (NGVU “Chernihivnaftogaz”) cannot be considered a sale, since the goods were actually transferred to the entire legal entity of PJSC “Ukrnafta”. In connection with the above-mentioned circumstances, during the cassation examination of the case, the plaintiff also pointed to the absence of legislative grounds for considering such a transaction as controlled, and the mention of the latter in the Report on Controlled Transactions constitutes a mistake made by the relevant administrative department. In accordance with this position, the courts of the previous instances have found that the use of the “resale price” method was unjustified.
The College of Judges considers that, in resolving the dispute between the parties in this part, the courts of the previous instances did not fully appreciate the parties’ arguments on the dispute, which resulted in an incorrect assessment of the circumstances of the case. It should be noted that the sub-clauses of clause 14.1.139 of Article 14.1 and clause 153.14.5 of Article 153.14 of the Ukrainian Civil Code provide that for the purposes of the disclosure the obligations of the parties to the joint venture under the Joint Venture Agreement are specific civil law contracts.
At the same time, the accounting treatment of transactions involving the transfer/sale of tangible goods has been subject to respect and legal scrutiny by the courts. In order to properly resolve the dispute in this part, the following should have been addressed: who and for what money the goods were delivered; to whom (PJSC “Ukrznafta” as a separate legal entity or PJSC “Ukrznafta” as a member of the Agreement No. 35/4) and on what legal basis the goods were exchanged/sold; how the relevant transaction was recorded in the accounting records and whether such recording corresponds to the primary documents that were created in connection with the transfer/sale of the goods.”
“The Collegium of Judges notes that, in addition to the above-mentioned deficiencies in the absence of primary documents and accounting documents, which were created for the results of the business transactions, the documentation from the transfer pricing, which was provided to the audit, is also absent (volume 1, page 30). The above makes it impossible to establish officially the conditions of the case as to the method used by the caller, the arguments of the latter in the absence of the conditions for the inclusion of the joint operation in the controlled order with the self-inclusion of the operations of PJSC “Ukrnafta” in the Report for 2014 with the inclusion of the methods 303 “costs plus” and 305 “revenue allocation”, whereas in the letter No 1855/10 dated 22 March 2017 the caller informed the State Tax Administration about the use of only the 303 “cost plus” method.”