Mayer Brown announced today that Sonal Majmudar, former international tax counsel with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), joined its Tax practice as a partner. Sonal will be resident in the firm’s Washington DC office. Her arrival bolsters Mayer Brown’s market-leading, global tax offerings, particularly with regard to transfer pricing controversies and high-stakes international disputes.
Anthony D. Pastore
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.
Turning the Screw: Penalties in Transfer Pricing Disputes
In 2018, the IRS reminded exam teams to perform a “diligent penalty analysis” in every transfer pricing case. Since then, we have observed that the agency is increasingly willing to impose penalties, even where reasonable minds differ as to the appropriate transfer pricing. Penalties are often raised late (at the very end of an audit or even after the dispute is in court) and can create an extra liability of hundreds of millions—or billions—of dollars. For all these reasons, it is worth your time to brush up on how these penalties work, as well as what you can do to defend against them.…
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Less than Meets the Eye: The IRS Practice Unit on CbC Reports
In April, the IRS released a practice unit on country-by-country (or “CbC”) reporting. The purpose of the document is twofold: (i) describe the background of CbC reporting and (ii) provide guidance to IRS personnel on the use of CbC reports “in the IRS high-level transfer pricing risk assessment process.” Although the practice unit repeatedly stresses that the IRS will not audit CbC reports, there is potentially less to this claim than meets the eye.
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Looking Forward: Predictions for 2022
In ancient Rome, a college of “augurs” would predict the future by observing the flight patterns of birds, examining the entrails of animal sacrifices, or interpreting natural phenomena. While perhaps less colorful, our method of divination will hopefully be a little more precise. To develop this blog post, we have consulted our own augurs and have summarized all our predictions for transfer pricing developments in the coming year.
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Standard of Review in Transfer Pricing Litigation
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…
Document Preservation for Transfer Pricing Litigation: What You Need to Know
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?
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The Vanishing U.S. Comparable
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.
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Artificial Intelligence for Benchmarking: The Wave of the Future
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.…
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Transfer Pricing for AI-Generated Intellectual Property
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?
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OECD Guidance on Pandemic’s Impact on Transfer Pricing
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.
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