In February 2020, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) released Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions (“Guidance”). The Guidance is significant because it is the first time that the OECD’s Transfer Pricing Guidelines have been updated to include guidance on the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions. Generally, the treasury function is part of the process of making the financing of the MNE group as efficient as possible. For example, treasury may act as the contact point to centralize the external borrowing of the MNE group. External funds would then be made available within the MNE group through intra-group lending provided by the treasury. In considering the commercial and financial relations between the associated borrower and lender concerning intra-group loans, both the lender’s and borrower’s perspectives should be taken into account. In particular, it is important to consider the risks that the funding arrangements carry for the party providing the funds, and the risks related to the acceptance and use of the funds from the perspective of the recipient. The creditworthiness of the borrower is one of the main factors that independent investors take into account in determining an interest rate to charge. Credit ratings can serve as a useful measure of creditworthiness and therefore help to identify potential comparables or to apply economic models in the context of related party transactions. Arm’s length interest rates can be sought based on consideration of the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of the specific issuance, taking into account all of the terms and conditions of the loan and comparability factors. The widespread existence of markets for borrowing and lending money and the frequency of such transactions between independent borrowers and lenders may make it easier to apply the CUP method to financial transactions than may be the case for other types of transactions.

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In February 2020, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) released Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions (“Guidance”). The Guidance is significant because it is the first time that the OECD’s Transfer Pricing Guidelines have been updated to include guidance on the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions.

According to the OECD, before attempting to apply the pricing guidelines that are the primary topic of the Guidance, it may be necessary to determine whether a purported loan should be regarded as a loan, since the balance of debt and equity funding of a borrowing entity that is part of an Multinational Enterprise (“MNE”) group may differ from that which would exist if it were an independent entity operating under similar circumstances. In accurately delineating an advance of funds, the following economically relevant characteristics may be useful indicators, depending on the facts and circumstances: the presence or absence of a fixed maturity date; the obligation to pay interest; the right to enforce payment of principal and interest; the status of the funder in comparison to regular corporate creditors; the existence of financial covenants and security; the source of interest payments; the ability of the recipient of the funds to obtain loans from unrelated lending institutions; the extent to which the loan is used to acquire capital assets; and the failure of the purported debtor to repay on the due date or to seek a postponement. The accurate delineation of financial transactions may require an analysis of the factors affecting the  performance of businesses in the industry sector in which the MNE group operates. The contractual arrangements between independent enterprises may not always provide information in sufficient detail, and it may therefore be necessary to look to other documents and the actual conduct of the parties to define the relationship. Accurate delineation of the transaction may include an identification of the economically relevant characteristics of the transaction, including the functions performed; assets used and risks assumed; the characteristics of the financial instruments; the economic circumstances of the parties and of the market; and the business strategies pursued by the parties.


Continue Reading Accurate Delineation of Financial Transactions

Just as with debt instruments between unrelated parties, the current economic downturn may cause related parties to want to modify the terms of debt instruments existing between them. And as with debt instruments between unrelated parties, modification of debt instruments between related parties may have a number of tax consequences. Certain “significant modifications” of a debt instrument will result in a deemed exchange of the unmodified instrument (“old debt”) for the modified debt instrument (“new debt”). The old debt will be treated as redeemed for an amount equal to the “issue price” of the new debt. The new debt will be treated as a newly issued debt instrument with a new issue price. If the debt instrument is not publicly traded, then the issue price of the new debt instrument is generally equal to the principal amount, provided that the debt instrument bears stated interest at least equal to the “Applicable Federal Rate.”

What constitutes a “modification” and the determination of when a modification is “significant” are the subjects of this blog post.


Continue Reading Modification of Intra-Group Debt Instruments