'It is hard to describe the international transfer pricing rules as they operate in practice except as an exercise in documentation'
The aim of transfer pricing rules is to determine the price ofgoods, services or use of property in situations of cross border international transactions between related enterprises. The two main stakeholders are multinational firms (taxpayers) and the taxadministrations but governments and politicians are also concerned. Because of globalization, the rise of the multinational corporations and the role of the “transfer price” in allocating profits from onetax jurisdiction to another one, this issue is becoming increasingly important for its stakeholders. Firms willing to play with the rules could use it to shift profits into low tax jurisdictions even ifthey carry out little business activity in that jurisdiction but they face huge penalties and firms willing to be taxed at a fair level may be the collateral within a tax administration battle.OECD and US guidelines as well as many others permit related parties to set prices within an arm’s length range, that is to say within a range of prices that would be charged for the same item, underthe same conditions, by independent parties dealing at arm's length. The arm’s length principle is found in Article 9 of the OECD Model Tax Convention and is the framework for bilateral treaties betweenOECD countries, and many non-OECD governments.
But there are some clear practical difficulties in implementing the arm's length standard: We have the problem of identical item - this may notexist - but also that the terms of sale may vary from one transaction to another. Market and other conditions may also vary geographically or over time.
Administrations have thus defined an obligationfor multinational to disclose documentation to make them able to understand the method chosen and to assess whether it is an acceptable transfer pride or not. Because of the factors described above,...
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