In a decision dated December 11, 2020 (Value Click Case), the French Administrative Supreme Court overturned a Paris Court of Appeal decision dated March 1, 2018, and concluded that the French affiliate of the group (“French Co”) should be considered as the dependent agent of the Irish affiliate company (“Irish Co”) in France for permanent establishment (“PE”) purposes. The decision is a significant reversal of prior court cases, such as the Google decision dated April 25, 2019, and it may lead to the unilateral application by France of an expansive interpretation of the definition of PEs under Article 12 of the MLI adopted with no reservation by France.
Continue Reading Landmark Decision in France Regarding PE of Digital Company

According to the OECD, the new international taxation framework set forth in its Pillar One blueprint recognizes that in an increasingly digital age, taxing rights can no longer be exclusively determined by reference to physical presence. The blueprint therefore contains new nexus rules for in-scope revenue under Amount A. (For an overview of Pillar One and a discussion of the scope of Amount A, please see our prior blog posts.) The scope tests seek to capture those large MNEs that are able to participate in an active and sustained manner in the economic life of market jurisdictions through engagement extending beyond the mere conclusion of sales, in order to generate profits, without necessarily having a commensurate level of taxable presence in that market (based on existing nexus rules).

The nexus rules are designed to protect the interests of smaller jurisdictions, and in particular developing economies, and their desire to benefit from the new taxing right. The new nexus rules determine entitlement of a market jurisdiction to an allocation of Amount A only. They do not alter the nexus rules for other tax purposes. The new nexus rules could apply differently for ADS (Automated Digital Services) and CFB (Consumer Facing Businesses). For ADS, exceeding a market revenue threshold could be the only test to establish nexus. According to the OECD, the very nature of the ADS allows them to be provided remotely and such businesses generally have a significant and sustained engagement with the market even if there is not a physical presence. For CFB, the OECD believes that the ability to participate remotely in a market jurisdiction is less pronounced. This, together with the additional complexity and compliance costs associated with sourcing revenue derived by CFB and the broad acknowledgment that profit margins are typically lower for CFB compared to ADS, could justify a higher nexus standard for CFB. One approach for satisfying this higher nexus standard is through a higher threshold and the presence of additional indicators (“plus” factors) which would evidence an active and sustained engagement in that jurisdiction beyond mere sales.


Continue Reading OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Nexus for Purposes of Amount A

The new taxing right established through Amount A of Pillar One[1] only applies to those multinational entity (MNE) groups that fall within the defined scope of Amount A.  The scope of Amount A is based on two elements:  an activity test and a threshold test.

According to the OECD, the definition of the scope responds to the need to revisit taxing rules in response to a changed economy.  The existing international tax rules generally attach a taxing right to profits derived from a physical presence in a jurisdiction.  However, given globalization and the digitalization of the economy, the OECD believes that businesses can, with or without the benefit of local operations, participate in an active and sustained manner in the economic life of a market jurisdiction through engagement extending beyond the mere conclusion of sales, in order to increase the value of their products, their sales and their profits.


Continue Reading Tax Challenges Arising From Digitalisation, Report on the OECD’S Pillar One Blueprint: Scope of Amount A

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. The OECD expects that the Guidance should contribute to consistency in the application of transfer pricing and help to avoid transfer pricing disputes and double taxation. The Guidance addresses specific issues related to the pricing of financial transactions, such as treasury functions, intra-group loans, cash pooling, hedging, and guarantees. Those issues are the subject of separate posts. This post covers captive insurance.

The term “captive insurance” is intended to refer to an insurance undertaking or entity substantially all of whose insurance business is to provide insurance policies for risks of entities of the MNE group to which it belongs. The term “reinsurance” refers to a reinsurance undertaking or entity the purpose of which is to provide reinsurance policies for risks of unrelated parties that are in the first instance insured by entities of the MNE group to which it belongs.

Captive Insurers may be self-managed from within the MNE group, or managed by an unrelated service provider (often a division of a large insurance broker). Typically this management would include ensuring compliance with local law, issuing policy documents, collecting premiums, paying claims, preparing reports and providing local directors. If the captive insurance is managed from within the MNE group it is necessary to determine which entity manages it and to appropriately reward that management.

In order to consider the transfer pricing implications of a transaction with a captive insurer, the initial question will be whether the transaction under consideration is one of insurance. This analysis requires consideration of whether the risk has been assumed by the insurer and whether risk diversification has been achieved. Where the captive insurer insures the risk and reinsures it in the open market, it should receive an appropriate reward for the basic services it provides.

With respect to pricing of premiums, comparable uncontrolled prices may be available from comparable arrangements between unrelated parties. These may be internal comparables if the captive insurer has suitably similar business with unrelated customers, or there may be external comparables. Alternatively, actuarial analysis may be an appropriate method to independently determine the premium likely to be required at arm’s length for insurance of a particular risk. The remuneration of the captive insurer can also be arrived at by considering the arm’s length profitability of the captive insurer by reference to a two-staged approach, which takes into account both profitability of claims (the “combined ratio”) and return on capital.


Continue Reading OECD Guidance on Financial Transactions: Captive Insurance

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

In transfer pricing analysis, the determination of the entity or entities within a multinational enterprise that are entitled to share in the returns derived by the group from exploiting intangibles is crucial. A related issue is which entity or entities within the group should bear the costs, investments and other burdens associated with the development, enhancement, maintenance, protection and exploitation of intangibles. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has addressed this topic as part of its 2017 Transfer Pricing Guidelines, and that guidance is the subject of this post. Although the legal owner of an intangible may initially receive the proceeds from exploitation of the intangible, other members of the legal owner’s group may have performed functions, used assets, or assumed risks that are expected to contribute to the value of the intangible. Members of the group performing such functions, using such assets and assuming such risks must be compensated for their contributions under the arm’s length principle.

Legal rights and contractual arrangements form the starting point for any transfer pricing analysis of transactions involving intangibles. The terms of a transaction may be found in written contracts, public records such as patent or trademark registrations, or in other communications between the parties. In identifying the legal owner of intangibles, an intangible and any license relating to that intangible are considered to be different intangibles for transfer pricing purposes, each having a different owner. While determining legal ownership and contractual arrangements is an important first step in the analysis, these determinations are separate from the question of remuneration under the arm’s length principle. For transfer pricing purposes, legal ownership of intangibles, by itself, does not necessarily confer any right ultimately to retain returns derived by the group from exploiting the intangible. Identification of legal ownership, combined with the identification and compensation of relevant functions performed, assets used, and risks assumed by all contributing members, provides the analytical framework for identifying arm’s length prices and other conditions for transactions involving intangibles.

The arm’s length principle requires that all members of the group receive appropriate compensation for any functions they perform, assets they use, and risks they assume in connection with the development, enhancement, maintenance, protection and exploitation of intangibles. An important question is how to determine the appropriate arm’s length remuneration to members of a group for their functions, assets and risks within the framework established by the taxpayer’s contractual arrangements, the legal ownership of intangibles, and the conduct of the parties. The determination of arm’s length compensation for functional contributions should consider the availability of comparable uncontrolled transactions, the importance of the functions performed to the creation of the intangible value, and the realistically available options of the parties. In assessing whether the compensation provided in the controlled transaction is consistent with the arm’s length principle, reference should be made to the level and nature of activity of comparable uncontrolled entities performing similar functions, the compensation received by comparable uncontrolled entities and the anticipated creation of intangible value by comparable uncontrolled entities.


Continue Reading DEMPE Functions

Addressing the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy has been a top priority of the OECD since 2015.  In January 2019, the OECD agreed to examine proposals in two pillars.  Pillar One is focused on nexus and profit allocation whereas Pillar Two is focused on global minimum tax.  In July 2020 the OECD was mandated to produce reports on the Blueprints of Pillar One and Pillar Two by October 2020.

According to the OECD, in an increasingly digital age, businesses are able to generate profits through participation in the economic life of a jurisdiction with or without the benefit of a local physical presence, and this should be reflected in the design of nexus rules.  The Pillar One Blueprint proposes to allocate a portion of residual profit of in-scope businesses to market or user jurisdictions (“Amount A”) generally without regard to physical presence.
Continue Reading Tax Challenges Arising from Digitalisation, Report on the OECD’s Pillar One Blueprint: Executive Summary

In February 2018, the OECD and Brazil started a joint project to analyze the similarities and differences between Brazilian legislation and the transfer pricing (“TP”) frameworks to assess cross-border transactions between associated enterprises from a tax standpoint. This project is within the scope of Brazil’s initiative to engage with the OECD in tax-related projects, and, in a broader respects, consistent with Brazil’s interest in initiating the process to join the OECD.

Continue Reading General View of the Project “Transfer Pricing in Brazil”

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. The use of a cash pool is popular among multinational enterprises as a way of achieving more efficient cash management by bringing together, either physically or notionally, the balances on a number of separate bank accounts. In a typical physical pooling arrangement, the bank account balances of all the pool members are transferred daily to a single central bank account owned by the cash pool leader. In a notional cash pool, some of the benefits of combining credit and debit balances of several accounts are achieved without any physical transfer of balances between the participating members’ accounts. As cash pooling is not undertaken regularly, if at all, by independent enterprises, the application of transfer pricing principles requires careful consideration. According to the OECD, a cash pool is likely to differ from a straightforward overnight deposit with a bank in that a cash pool member with a credit position is not depositing money as a transaction with a view to a simple depositor return. Rather, the cash pool member is likely to be participating in providing liquidity as part of a broader group strategy, in which the member can have a credit or debit position. The appropriate reward of the cash pool leader will depend on the functions performed, the assets used and the risks assumed in facilitating a cash pooling arrangement. A cash pool leader may perform no more than a coordination or agency function with the master account being a centralized point for a series of book entries to meet predetermined target balances of pool members. Under these circumstances, the cash pool leader’s remuneration as a service provider will generally be limited. Where a cash pool leader is carrying on activities other than coordination or agency functions, the pricing of such transactions would be adjusted appropriately. The remuneration of the cash pool members will be calculated through the determination of the arm’s length interest rates applicable to the debit and credit positions within the pool. This determination will allocate any synergy benefits arising from the cash pool arrangement amongst the pool members and it will generally be done once the remuneration of the cash pool leader has been calculated.

Continue Reading OECD on Cash Pooling

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.


Continue Reading Work-From-Home Policies in the Post-COVID Era