Amount B aims to standardize the remuneration of related party distributors that perform baseline marketing and distribution activities in a manner that is aligned with the arm’s length principle. Its purpose is two-fold: First, Amount B is intended to simplify the administration of transfer pricing rules for tax administrations and reduce compliance costs for taxpayers. Second, Amount B is intended to enhance tax certainty and reduce controversy between tax administrations and taxpayers.

Pillar One assumes that distribution and marketing activities would be identified as in-scope based on a narrow scope of activities, set by reference to a defined “positive list” and “negative list” of activities that should and should not be performed to be considered in scope. Quantitative indicators would then be applied to further support and validate the identification of in-scope distributors. It is anticipated that amount B could be based on return on sales, with potentially differentiated fixed returns to account for the different geographic locations and/or industries of the in-scope distributors. Given the narrow scope of Amount B, there is currently no provision for Amount B to increase with the functional intensity of the activities of in-scope distributors. Amount B would not supersede advance pricing agreements or mutual agreement proceeding settlements agreed before the implementation of Amount B.

Under one proposal, the implementation of Amount B would operate under a rebuttable presumption, namely, that an entity that acts as a buy/sell distributor and performs the defined baseline marketing and distribution activities qualifying for the Amount B return would render it in scope, but that it will be possible to rebut the application of Amount B by providing evidence that another transfer pricing method would be the most appropriate to use under the arm’s length principle. While one group of OECD members prefers a narrow approach, another group prefers a broader approach that would also provide standardized remuneration for commissionaires or sales agents, or for distribution entities whose profile differs from the baseline marketing and distribution activities discussed below.

Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Amount B

In the U.S., transfer pricing benchmarking under the Comparable Profits Method (“CPM”) or Transactional Net Margin Method (“TNMM”) depends on the availability of public company financial data. In recent years, the decreasing number of U.S. listed and non-exchange traded companies has made this benchmarking more challenging, not only due to the smaller population from which the comparable can be selected: Many of the remaining listed and non-exchange traded companies are either large companies that own intangibles or small companies that often operate at a loss. This trend should prompt transfer pricing practitioners to consider new, creative approaches in selecting comparable companies for purposes of CPM/TNMM, and in appropriate cases, to re-consider transactional or other methods that do not rely on publicly available profitability data. Further, an APA might now be a prudent choice to obtain certainty, even if APAs had not been considered necessary or worthwhile from a cost-benefit perspective in the past to mitigate tax risk.

Continue Reading The Vanishing U.S. Comparable

Benchmarking—the process of screening, selecting, and analyzing comparable companies—is time consuming. Analysts can spend innumerable hours every year preparing transfer pricing documentation, with a substantial portion of that time dedicated to benchmarking. Even with improvements in the quality of databases (which offer a vast array of quantitative and qualitative data), the sets of potential comparables that analysts must sift through are often enormous.

With the applications of artificial intelligence (or “AI”) expanding by the day, it is time to start thinking about whether AI could automate parts of the benchmarking process.

Continue Reading Artificial Intelligence for Benchmarking: The Wave of the Future

On March 23, 2021, the United States’ Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program (“APMA Program”) released its 2020 annual report (“2020 Annual Report”) to the public concerning advance pricing agreements (“APAs”). COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruptions  to taxpayers and tax administrations alike, but the 2020 Annual Report shows that the APMA Program remained highly productive in 2020. Last year taxpayers filed 121 APA requests—the same amount as in 2019. And in 2020, APMA executed 127 APAs—seven more than the prior year.

Continue Reading APMA to COVID-19: Don’t Stop Me Now

Overview.  As discussed in prior blog posts, Amount A is a proposed new taxing right over a share of residual profit of MNE groups that fall within its defined scope.  The calculation and allocation of Amount A will be determined through a formula that is not based on the Arm’s Length Principle (ALP).  The formula will apply to the tax base of a group (or segment where relevant) and will involve three components:  Step 1:  a profitability threshold to isolate the residual profit potentially subject to reallocation;  Step 2: a reallocation percentage to identify an appropriate share of residual profit that can be allocated to market jurisdictions under Amount A (the “allocable tax base”); and Step 3: an allocation key to distribute the allocable tax base amongst the eligible market jurisdictions (i.e. where nexus is established for Amount A).  This three-step formula to determining the Amount A quantum could be delivered through two approaches:  a profit-based approach or a profit margin-based approach.  A profit-based approach would start the calculation with the Amount A tax base determined as a profit amount (e.g. an absolute profit of EUR 10 million) whereas a profit-margin approach would start the calculation with the Amount A tax base determined as a profit margin (e.g. a PBT to revenue of 15%).  Both approaches would apply the three steps of the allocation formula similarly, and hence would deliver the same quantum of Amount A taxable in each market jurisdiction.

Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Profit Allocation

Consider the following hypothetical: Researchers at a US-parented drug company develop an artificial intelligence (or “AI”) system that can identify new therapeutic targets with minimal human intervention. The drug company sells the system to its foreign affiliate in a lower-tax jurisdiction. What is the appropriate valuation of the system on this outbound transfer (e.g., based on the cost to create it or based on the value of the IP it is likely to generate)? And, when the AI system later successfully creates a new therapeutic, which entity will be entitled to the non-routine returns from sales of the therapeutic: the US parent that developed the system, the foreign subsidiary that owns the system that developed the therapeutic, or some combination of both?

Continue Reading Transfer Pricing for AI-Generated Intellectual Property

As discussed in prior blog posts, Amount A is a proposed new taxing right over a share of the residual profit of MNE groups that fall within its defined scope. The tax base is therefore determined on the basis of the profits of a group (rather than on a separate entity basis), and it is necessary to start with consolidated group financial accounts.

Continue Reading OECD’S Pillar One Blueprint: Tax Base Determinations

The Mutual Agreement Procedure (“MAP”) is a useful dispute resolution mechanism for multinational companies facing a transfer pricing or other assessment resulting in double tax, whether in the U.S. or abroad. In order to fully avail themselves of the advantages of the MAP process, taxpayers should pay careful attention to the applicable procedures to optimize their chances of a successful resolution.

Continue Reading The Mutual Agreement Procedure (“MAP”): Advantages and Potential Pitfalls for Resolution of Double Tax Issues

The Pillar One revenue sourcing rules determine the revenue that would be treated as deriving from a particular market jurisdiction. The rules would be relevant in applying the scope rules, the nexus rules and the Amount A formula. The sourcing rules are reflective of particularities of Automated Digital Services (ADS) and Consumer Facing Businesses (CFB) and more broadly were designed to balance the need for accuracy with the ability of in-scope MNEs to comply, without incurring disproportionate compliance costs. This is proposed to be achieved through the articulation of sourcing principles, supported by a range of specific indicators, subject to a defined hierarchy (likely to be of particular importance in connection with third party distribution). This approach of providing a range of possible indicators within the hierarchy recognizes the different ways MNEs currently collect information in the context of their business model, while still providing certainty to MNEs and tax administrations that the defined set of acceptable specified indicators can be relied upon to provide acceptable outcomes.

To source the relevant in-scope revenue to a market jurisdiction, a sourcing principle would be identified for each type of in-scope revenue, accompanied by a list of acceptable specific indicators an MNE will use to apply the principle and identify the jurisdiction of source. For example, for the direct sale of consumer goods, the principle would be to source the revenue based on the jurisdiction of final delivery of the goods to the consumer, and the acceptable indicator would be the jurisdiction of the retail store front where the consumer good is sold or shipping address.

The acceptable indicators would be organized in a hierarchy. The MNE should generally use the indicator that is first in the hierarchy, as this will be the most accurate. However, an MNE may use an alternative indicator that appears second in the hierarchy, if the first indicator was not reasonably available or if the MNE can justify that the first indicator was unreliable, and so on with the remaining indicators. This approach is intended to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to accommodate the different ways that MNEs collect information. Information would be considered unreliable if it is not within the MNE’s possession, and reasonable steps have been taken to obtain it but have been unsuccessful. Information would be considered unreliable if the MNE can justify that the indicator is not a true representation of the principle in the source rule.

The MNE would need to justify and document its approach and include it in the standardized documentation package to be developed as part of the broader work on tax certainty. It is expected that an in-scope MNE would need to retain documentation describing the functioning of its internal control framework related to revenue sourcing, containing aggregate and periodic information on results of applying the indicators for each type of revenue and in each jurisdiction, and explaining the indicator used and, if relevant, why a secondary indicator was applied instead (such as the steps taken to obtain information or why a primary indicator was considered unreliable).

Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Revenue Sourcing Rules

In a decision dated December 11, 2020 (Value Click Case), the French Administrative Supreme Court overturned a Paris Court of Appeal decision dated March 1, 2018, and concluded that the French affiliate of the group (“French Co”) should be considered as the dependent agent of the Irish affiliate company (“Irish Co”) in France for permanent establishment (“PE”) purposes. The decision is a significant reversal of prior court cases, such as the Google decision dated April 25, 2019, and it may lead to the unilateral application by France of an expansive interpretation of the definition of PEs under Article 12 of the MLI adopted with no reservation by France. Continue Reading Landmark Decision in France Regarding PE of Digital Company