Transfer pricing glossary

Advanced Pricing Agreement

An arrangement that determines, in advance of controlled transactions, an appropriate set of criteria (e.g. method, comparables and appropriate adjustments thereto, critical assumptions as to future events) for the determination of the transfer pricing for those transactions over a fixed period of time. An advance pricing arrangement may be unilateral involving one tax administration and a taxpayer or multilateral involving the agreement of two or more tax administrations.

Allocation keys

In practice, allocation keys based on assets/capital (operating assets, fixed assets, intangible assets, capital employed) or costs (relative spending and/or investment in key areas such as research and development, engineering, marketing) are often used. Other allocation keys based for instance on incremental sales, headcounts (number of individuals involved n the key functions that generate value to the transaction), time spent by a certain group of employees if there is a strong correlation between the time spent and the creation of the combined profits, number of servers, data storage, floor area of retail points, etc. may be appropriate depending on the facts and circumstances of the transactions.

Arm’s length principle

The international standard that OECD member countries have agreed should be used for determining transfer prices for tax purposes. It is set forth in Article 9 of the OECD Model Tax Convention as follows: where “conditions are made or imposed between the two enterprises in their commercial or financial relations which differ from those which would be made between independent enterprises, then any profits which would, but for those conditions, have accrued to one of the enterprises, but, by reason of those conditions, have not so accrued, may be included in the profits of that enterprise and taxed accordingly”.

Arm’s length range

A range of figures that are acceptable for establishing whether the conditions of a controlled transaction are arm’s length and that are derived either from applying the same transfer pricing method to multiple comparable data or from applying different transfer pricing methods.

Article 9 paragraph 1 of the OECD Model Tax Convention

[Where] conditions are made or imposed between the two [associated] enterprises in their commercial or financial relations which differ from those which would be made between independent enterprises, then any profits which would, but for those conditions, have accrued to one of the enterprises, but, by reason of those conditions, have not so accrued, may be included in the profits of that enterprise and taxed accordingly.

Comparability analysis

A comparison of a controlled transaction with an uncontrolled transaction or transactions. Controlled and uncontrolled transactions are comparable if none of the differences between the transactions could materially affect the factor being examined in the methodology (e.g. price or margin), or if reasonably accurate adjustments can be made to eliminate the material effects of any such differences.

Five comparability factors (provided by the OECD):

  1. Characteristics of goods and services
  2. Functional analysis
  3. Contractual terms
  4. Economic circumstances
  5. Business strategies

Comparable uncontrolled transaction

A comparable uncontrolled transaction is a transaction between two independent parties that is comparable to the controlled transaction under examination. It can be either a comparable transaction between one party to the controlled transaction and an independent party (“internal comparable”) or between two independent parties, neither of which is a party to the controlled transaction (“external comparable”). 

Controlled transactions

Transactions between two enterprises that are associated enterprises with respect to each other.

Cost contribution arrangement (“CCA”)

A CCA is a framework agreed among enterprises to share the costs and risks of developing, producing, or obtaining assets, services, or rights, and to determine the nature and extent of the interests of each participant in the results of the activity of developing, producing, or obtaining those assets, services, or rights.

Direct-charge method

A method of charging directly for specific intra-group services on a clearly identified basis.

Intra-group service

An activity (e.g. administrative, technical, financial, commercial, etc.) for which an independent enterprise would have been willing to pay or perform for itself.

Indirect-charge method

A method of charging for intra-group services based upon cost allocation and apportionment methods.

Functional analysis

An analysis of the functions performed (taking into account assets used and risks assumed) by associated enterprises in controlled transactions and by independent enterprises in comparable uncontrolled transactions.

Related entities / associated entities

Two enterprises are associated enterprises with respect to each other if one of the enterprises meets the conditions of Article 9, sub-paragraphs 1a) or 1b) of the OECD Model Tax Convention with respect to the other enterprise.

Shareholder activity

An activity which is performed by a member of an MNE group (usually the parent company or a regional holding company) solely because of its ownership interest in one or more other group members, i.e. in its capacity as shareholder.

Uncontrolled transactions

Transactions between enterprises that are independent enterprises with respect to each other.

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