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Elena is the Director of Transfer Pricing and Valuation Services. She has over 20 years of transfer pricing, valuation, and general quantitative analysis experience, including 20 years with Mayer Brown. Elena has performed transfer pricing and valuation analyses for purposes of advance pricing agreements (APAs), tax planning, contemporaneous documentation, audit defense, and litigation for clients that range from some of the largest multinational enterprises in the world to privately-held companies in a wide range of industries that include heavy machinery manufacturing, software, oil & gas, automotive manufacturing, distribution, electronics, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, services, shipping, agricultural production, financial institutions and products, leisure travel, and Internet.

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On August 13, 2021, the IRS released a Chief Counsel Advice (“CCA”) (CCA 202132009) addressing the tax treatment of intercompany reimbursements of the Branded Prescription Drug (“BPD”) fee, a non-deductible excise tax imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on entities that manufacture or import branded prescription drugs for sale to specified government programs. The CCA concludes that intercompany reimbursements of the BPD fee are not per se excludable from gross income, but rather, the inclusion or exclusion of the reimbursement depends on whether the entity paying the fee was the beneficiary of the payment under the facts and circumstances. For pharmaceutical companies subject to the BPD fee, the CCA stops short of providing certainty that reimbursements of the fee are per se excludable, but nevertheless, offers useful guidance on how the reimbursements might be structured to support exclusion in many cases. Outside of the pharmaceutical industry, companies in other industries that pay and receive intercompany reimbursements of other material non-deductible costs may also find the CCA’s guidance to be instructive by analogy.

Continue Reading IRS CCA Addresses Intercompany Reimbursements of Branded Prescription Drug Fee: Guidance May be Relevant to Taxpayers Across Industries with Material Non-Deductible Expenses

On April 15, 2020, OECD released the report titled “Tax and Fiscal Policy in Response to the Coronavirus Crisis: Strengthening Confidence and Resilience” (the “COVID-19 Response”). The COVID-19 Response discussed the decisive action many governments have taken to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus and to limit the adverse impacts on their citizens

For over a decade, countries have been looking for ways to tax the digital economy. On July 1, 130 countries announced an agreement that would provide a new taxing right to enable a country to tax a portion of digital profits even in the absence of traditional taxable nexus with the country. This new taxing right is known as “Amount A”. The quantum of Amount A remained a mystery until the publication of the OECD’s “Statement on a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising From the Digitalisation of the Economy” on July 1, 2021 (the “Statement”) which quantified Amount A to be “between 20-30% of residual profit defined as profit in excess of 10% of revenue” for in-scope enterprises. Although this quantum of Amount A represents a political compromise, a solid theoretical basis underlying that compromise is essential to sustaining consensus.

The early proposals to modify profit allocation and nexus rules for the digital economy enterprises, which ultimately produced Amount A, strived to be based on certain subjective criteria, including the concepts of user participation, marketing intangibles and/or the concept of significant economic presence. The contemplated methods for profit allocation were the Modified Residual Profit Split method, Fractional Apportionment method, and Distribution-based approaches, along with the options for business line and regional segmentation. However, the criteria and methods of the early proposals are nowhere to be found to found in the OECD July 2021 Statement, leaving many questions about Amount A still unanswered. While the final compromise on Pillar One eliminates the focus on digital economy and shifts instead to high profitability when defining in-scope MNEs, the “digital essence” still surrounds Amount A. For one thing, the introduction to the Statement continues to refer to the “two-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.” Moreover, a widely accepted assumption in the final Pillar One negotiations is that high profits are generated by intangibles and those are increasingly concentrated with digital businesses. Therefore, an analysis of Amount A cannot be divorced from the analysis of the factors that contribute to the digital economy.


Continue Reading The Elusive “Amount A”

In the dawn years of transfer pricing, when the bulk of international trade focused on tangible goods, relatively little attention was devoted to the analysis of transactions involving services.  The 1968 U.S. Treasury Regulations governing intercompany services focused on the allocation and apportionment of costs with respect to services undertaken for the benefit of the related parties, roughly in line with the current Services Cost Method, and provided a high level discussion of the services that were an integral part of the business activity of a member of a controlled group without elaborating on the methods to be used to test compliance with the arm’s length standard (Section 1.482-2(b) (1968)).  In the 1995 Transfer Pricing Guidelines from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”), the analysis of pricing of intracompany services occupied a mere 15 pages.  In the mid-2000s, there was a renewed focus on the pricing of intercompany services.  First to the stage were the U.S. Treasury Regulations in Section 1.482-9 promulgated in August of 2009, followed by several International Practice Units in 2014 through 2017, and then by the OECD with a revised Chapter VII in the 2017 OECD Guidelines.  The increased attention is not surprising:  over the last 20 years, from 1999 to 2019, the growth of trade in services far outpaced that of tangible goods (215% vs 137% for exports and 199% vs 143% for imports), with particularly robust performance in maintenance and repair, financial, and business services.
Continue Reading Intercompany Services: The Next Frontier of Transfer Pricing Disputes

The headline news about the U.S. Tax Court’s decision on the value of Michael Jackson’s estate might have been a shock to some – or, perhaps, to many. The King of Pop’s inflation-adjusted earnings since his death in 2009, according to the Forbes magazine, were $2.1 billion. His annual earnings in 2016 were $825 million, the highest single-year payday ever recorded by a front-of-camera celebrity. And yet his image and likeness at the time of his death was valued at a meager $4 million by the U.S. Tax Court.

Continue Reading What Are You Worth?

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

In the context of a Cost Sharing Arrangement (“CSA”), Treas. Reg. §1.482-7(c)(1) defines a platform contribution (“PCT”) to be “any resource, capability, or right that a controlled participant has developed, maintained, or acquired externally to the intangible development activity (whether prior to or during the course of the CSA) that is reasonably anticipated to contribute to developing cost shared intangibles.” Treas. Reg. §1.482-7(g)(2)(viii) defines subsequent PCTs as those whose date occurs subsequent to the inception of the CSA. Treas. Reg. §1.482-7(g)(1) explains that “a value for the compensation obligation of each PCT Payor” has to be “consistent with the product of the combined pre-tax value to all controlled participants of the platform contribution that is the subject of the PCT and the PCT Payor’s RAB share.” Treas. Reg. §1.482-7(e)(1)(i) notes further that “RAB shares must be updated to account for changes in economic conditions, the business operations and practices of the participants, and the ongoing development of intangibles under the CSA.”

While requiring that the RAB shares be updated, the regulations provide little guidance as to how this is to be accomplished. In particular, the regulations do not specify whether the Payors’ obligations with regard to the prior PCT and the subsequent PCT should be calculated on a combined basis, or whether separate RAB shares, and separate PCT obligations, are appropriate. Whether a combined or separate RAB share will be more appropriate after any subsequent PCT will therefore depend on facts and circumstances of the specific PCTs contributed to the CSA over the life of the CSA.


Continue Reading Calculating RAB Shares Following Additional Platform Contributions