Global Transfer Pricing Update: November 2019 - Tax and Legal blog

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Multinational companies are operating in an environment of unprecedented complexity. The rising volume and variety of intercompany transactions and transfer pricing regulations, coupled with increased tax authority collaboration across borders present both risks and opportunities. Our transfer pricing updates will provide you with the latest transfer pricing issues and developments worldwide that may affect your business.

Australian Federal Court agrees with taxpayer in court challenge to transfer pricing adjustments

The Federal Court of Australia has ruled in favour of Glencore Investments Pty Ltd in respect of an appeal. The Australian Tax Office has appealed the court’s ruling. The elementary transfer-pricing lesson that emerges from this case is that, unless the terms of arrangements are such that either the substance does not match the form, or contracting parties acting independently would not have entered into them, the arrangements should be respected by tax authorities and no reconstruction should be attempted.

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British Virgin Islands publishes Economic Substance Rules

The Rules provide additional guidance and explanatory notes to assist with the interpretation of the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act 2018 (ESA) that was passed into law in December 2018. The ESA imposes economic substance requirements on BVI companies and limited partnerships with legal personality (LPs) that are engaged in “relevant activities,” unless they are considered non-resident for the purposes of the ESA.

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India: Secondary adjustment law amended

India introduced secondary adjustments in transfer pricing cases in the Finance Act 2017, to ensure that cash profits of the taxpayer are in line with the tax profits following a primary adjustment (i.e. transfer pricing adjustment). On 30 September 2019, a notification was issued regarding amendments to the secondary adjustment provisions.
The changes remove anomalies and clarify the compliance and computational aspects of the secondary adjustment provisions, particularly those arising following.
The new notification seeks to clarify the compliance aspects of cash repatriation (in particular following the conclusion of an advance pricing agreement with the tax authorities or a resolution reached under a mutual agreement procedure in an applicable tax treaty) and the calculation of notional interest. It should facilitate compliance by taxpayers and minimize the possibility of litigation resulting from ambiguities in the law.

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New Zealand transfer pricing simplification measures aim to reduce compliance costs

New Zealand Inland Revenue has implemented a range of simplification measures that intend to lower compliance costs in situations perceived to have low transfer pricing risks:

  • Small value loans: From 1 July 2019, in the absence of a readily available market rate for a debt instrument with similar terms and risk characteristics, Inland Revenue considers 3.25% as broadly indicative of an arm’s length rate. Transactions priced in accordance with this simplification measure are likely to be considered to qualify as a "low transfer pricing risk" according to Inland Revenue and, hence, no further benchmarking is required.
  • Small wholesale distributors: Inland Revenue considers a weighted average earnings-before-interest-tax-and-exceptional-items (EBITE) ratio of 3% or greater as broadly indicative of arm’s length for foreign-owned wholesale distributors with an annual turnover of less than NZD 30 million. Such distributors within the prescribed annual turnover are likely to present a low transfer pricing risk and no benchmarking support will be required to validate an arm’s length rate.
  • Low value-adding intragroup services: Inland Revenue has adopted the OECD simplification measure for qualifying low value-adding intragroup services with a total value below NZD 1 million per annum. That is, "qualifying services" may be priced at a cost plus a 5% mark-up without having to provide benchmarking support.

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Norway Budget 2020 amends interest expense deduction limitation rules, R&D incentives

Two of the key proposals included in Norway’s budget for 2020, presented by the Ministry of Finance on 7 October 2019, are amendments to the interest expense deduction limitation rules and the Norwegian research and development (R&D) incentive scheme.

Norway’s interest expense deduction limitation rules are extended to included interest expense on external (third party) debt in addition to interest expense on debt from related parties.

The interest limitation applies to net interest expenses exceeding 25% of the company’s taxable EBITDA. There are two exemption to the interest limitation rules applying: 

  • De minimis rule for groups with net interest expense in Norway not exceeding NOK 25 million.
  • The company, or the Norwegian part of the group, qualifies for one of two “equity escape” clauses.
  1. The ratio between the company’s equity and its total balance sheet is at least as high as the overall equity ratio for the consolidated group; or
  2.  The equity ratio between the total consolidated equity of the Norwegian entities within the group is at least as high as the equity ratio for the entire consolidated group.

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Turkey – Draft Digital Services Tax Bill submitted to parliament

A draft digital services tax (DST) bill was submitted to the Turkish parliament on 24 October 2019 in an attempt to grapple with the challenges faced by the country in taxing the digital economy. The provisions in the draft bill are in line with DST initiatives by other countries and generally follow the framework of the final report on action 1 of the OECD BEPS project (“Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy”).

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Key Contacts

Raoul Stocker_BLOG

Raoul Stocker - Partner, International Tax 

Raoul Stocker is a tax partner with more than 15 years’ experience specifically in international tax litigation such as mutual agreement procedures and advanced pricing agreements. His focus lies on corporate tax planning, cross-border structuring of corporate transactions and businesses, transfer pricing as well as taxation of financial institutions. Raoul is also a lecturer of transfer pricing and tax law at the University of St. Gallen.



Hans Rudolf Habermacher - Partner, Transfer Pricing Leader Switzerland

Hans Rudolf has over 17 years’ of experience in advising clients in Transfer Pricing concepts. He successfully engages with MNCs in various industries in the planning, implementation, documentation & defence of TP concepts. Further he has significant experience in the design and implementation of principal & licensing structures. He is also highly successful in filing and negotiating bilateral APA's (Advanced Pricing Agreements) and mitigating double taxation issues through MAP procedures.


 Lorenzo Mondin_blog

Lorenzo Mondin - Manager, Transfer Pricing

Lorenzo works on Swiss and international engagements focusing on advisory projects mostly in relation to intra-group transfer pricing policies, corporate restructurings, intra-group debt, fiscal due diligences and tax audits whilst contributing to a certain number of compliance projects in relation to global transfer pricing documentation engagements. A large part of his client portfolio includes multinational groups active in the energy and resources sector, financial sector and life-science sector.



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