A recent Tax Notes article analyzes the “standard of review” that the Tax Court will apply to the IRS’s transfer pricing adjustments. In transfer pricing cases, the Tax Court determines whether the IRS has abused its discretion by proposing an adjustment that is “arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.” Although courts often describe this standard as a
Anthony Pastore is an associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office and a member of the Tax Controversy & Transfer Pricing practice.
Since joining the firm in 2013, Anthony has represented corporate, partnership, and individual taxpayers in all stages of tax controversy, including examination, administrative appeal, litigation, and trial. He has experience with transfer pricing allocations, debt-equity characterization, valuations, accounting method changes, substance-over-form arguments, and penalties.
Assume the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is auditing your company’s transfer pricing. The administrative process is starting to break down, and it looks as if the IRS might assert a sizeable income adjustment. What is your duty to save documents for a potential upcoming court case?
Continue Reading Document Preservation for Transfer Pricing Litigation: What You Need to Know
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.
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
Just in time for the holidays, the OECD has published detailed guidance about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transfer pricing. The guidance has useful information for taxpayers and tax administrations alike. It contains general advice on the application of basic transfer pricing principles during the pandemic, as well as specific advice on four issues: (i) comparability analyses, (ii) allocating losses, (iii) government-assistance programs, and (iv) advance pricing arrangements (“APAs”). The OECD guidance is broadly consistent with comments we made in a prior post about the impact of the pandemic on transfer pricing.
Continue Reading OECD Guidance on Pandemic’s Impact on Transfer Pricing
The parties recently completed briefing on an IRS motion for partial summary judgment in Western Digital Corporation v. Commissioner. The motion asks the US Tax Court to hold that a safe harbor in the Section 482 regulations is not relevant to whether intercompany receivable terms are “ordinary and necessary” under a provision in Subpart F. In our view, the motion is an unusual attempt to bar the taxpayer from making a well-founded legal argument in a case that is over a year away from trial.
Continue Reading IRS Seeks to Bar Transfer Pricing Argument in Western Digital
Last week, the IRS issued new guidance that addresses “telescoping” in mutual agreement procedure (“MAP”) and advance pricing agreement (“APA”) cases. Very generally, the guidance disallows (subject to a $10 million materiality exception) telescoping for tax years starting in 2018, when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) came into effect, while continuing to allow telescoping for pre-2018 years in appropriate cases. According to the IRS’s Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (“APMA”) program, the new guidance was needed to address the impact of the TCJA “and its many interlocking provisions that require careful determination (and redetermination, as needed) of a U.S. taxpayer’s taxable income and tax attributes.” The new guidance has the potential to drive up compliance costs by increasing the number of tax returns that taxpayers must file to resolve MAP and APA resolutions for post-TCJA years (and resolutions spanning both pre- and post-TCJA years).
Continue Reading Telescoping into the Void
As discussed in a recent blog post, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) has been issuing guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on transfer pricing issues. This week, IRAS issued new forward-looking guidance on (i) the tax residency status of companies and (ii) permanent establishments. This guidance is temporary and applies for the 2021 tax year.
Continue Reading Singapore Issues New Guidance on Tax Residency & Permanent Establishments
COVID-19 has sparked a seismic change in the workplace as many companies have found that working from home (“WFH”) has not diminished employee productivity and that employees prefer its greater flexibility. Given that—and the potential for saving on overhead costs—many companies have announced plans to adopt long-term WFH policies and close or realign office space. The OECD and several countries including the US, UK, Ireland, and Australia have issued guidance that excepts employees temporarily dislocated outside their employer’s country from creating unintended permanent establishments (“PE”)—but long-term WFH employees are not similarly excepted. The US, in particular, has thus far only officially extended PE protection for temporary dislocations of up to 60 calendar days that begin within the emergency period of February 1, 2020 through April 1, 2020.
While many employees that WFH do so from the same country as their employer, that is not always true, and so companies would be wise to perform their due diligence. To that end, this post analyzes some PE issues that a company should consider before it adopts a long-term WFH policy.