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.
APAs and MAPs
APMA’s New Interim APA Guidance
On April 25, 2023, the IRS’s Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (“APMA”) Program issued new interim guidance for its review of taxpayer Advance Pricing Agreement (“APA”) requests. Notably, the guidance introduces an “optional pre-submission review” for taxpayers that wish to submit a prefiling memorandum before submitting a formal APA request. Based on the pre-submission review, APMA will give a preliminary opinion whether it believes that an APA is well-suited to achieve tax certainty for the proposed covered transactions. The new interim guidance also instructs APMA personnel on how to review formal taxpayer APA requests for acceptance to the program, or whether to suggest an “alternative workstream” such as the International Compliance Assurance Program (“ICAP”) or a joint audit. …
OECD’s New Multilateral MAP and APA Manual Adapts Bilateral Processes for a Multilateral World
On February 1, 2023, the OECD Forum on Tax Administration published its Manual on the Handling of Multilateral Mutual Agreement Procedures and Advance Pricing Arrangements. (“Multilateral MAP and APA Manual” or the “Manual”). The Multilateral MAP and APA Manual provides new guidance to both tax administrations and taxpayers on how both multilateral MAPs and APAs can be negotiated and implemented under existing bilateral tax treaties in circumstances where a double tax issue cannot be adequately resolved without involving one or more third jurisdictions. The Multilateral MAP and APA Manual is similar in some ways to the Bilateral Advance Pricing Arrangement Manual (“Bilateral APA Manual”) that the OECD published in September 2022, which was the subject of a prior blog post. However, whereas the Bilateral APA provided specific, detailed, best practices to tax administrations and taxpayers reflecting decades of experience within a well-established process, the Multilateral MAP and APA Manual aims to provide a more basic awareness of how multilateral MAPs and APAs can be negotiated and implemented in appropriate cases.…
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Prepare for Warp Speed: New Goal to Conclude APAs is 24–30 Months
On September 28, 2022, the OECD published the Bilateral Advance Pricing Arrangement (“BAPA”) Manual. The manual proposes best practices for jurisdictions to streamline, expedite and improve BAPA processes based on member surveys. Most notably, the BAPA manual encourages jurisdictions to conclude BAPAs within 30 months and to work to further reduce completion times to 24 months or less.…
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APMA’s 2021 APA Annual Report Shows High Demand for APAs by Multinationals and Steady Progress by APMA in Concluding Cases
On March 22, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service’s Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program (“APMA”) released its 2021 Announcement and Report Concerning Advance Pricing Agreements (“2021 Annual Report”). The 2021 Annual Report shows that multinationals’ demand for advance pricing agreements (“APAs”) is high and increasing, with APMA receiving 145 APA applications in 2021, a 20% increase from 2020. The report similarly shows that APMA made steady progress in concluding APAs during 2021 with 124 completions, with notable highlights including a substantial increase in completions of bilateral APAs with Germany and a decrease in completions of bilateral APAs with India.
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ICAP, a New Tool in the Multiverse of Multinational Tax Dispute Management
In February 2021, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) issued a handbook linked with the official roll-out of its International Compliance Assurance Programme (“ICAP”). ICAP was first introduced as a pilot in January 2018 (“ICAP 1.0”) as a voluntary program where MNE groups may receive “comfort and assurance” from multiple tax administrations as to the veracity of the MNE group’s transfer pricing allocations and numerous types of international transactions. While some notable countries did not participate in ICAP 1.0 (for example, Germany), the pilot program received positive reviews by a number of MNE groups. In March 2020, the OECD enhanced the pilot program (“ICAP 2.0”) to encourage more countries to join. On March 22, 2021, the OECD announced an initial list of twenty countries that are participating in the official program.
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Singapore’s Transfer Pricing Guidance for Centralized Activities of MNEs
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) has issued transfer pricing guidance for centralized activities of multinational enterprise (“MNE”) groups in Singapore to assist taxpayers in analysing such activities between related parties and identifying factors that may affect transfer prices for these activities and the transfer pricing methods that may be appropriate.
The guidance (in the form of a so called e-Tax Guide, which the IRAS issues from time to time in order to express its views and policies on certain matters to taxpayers) is important considering that Singapore is being adopted as a destination by a significant number of MNEs for housing their global as well as regional headquarters (“HQ”). The e-Tax Guide aims to analyse potential inter-company transactions that may be carried out by MNEs through their Singapore-based HQ and discusses the approach to determine the arm’s length price in respect of such transactions.…
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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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APMA to COVID-19: Don’t Stop Me Now
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.
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The Mutual Agreement Procedure (“MAP”): Advantages and Potential Pitfalls for Resolution of Double Tax Issues
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.
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