Business Restructuring: The applicability of the arm's length principle for intangibles with an uncertain value at the time of the restructuring
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
This thesis is based on the regulations found in the OECD model and the OECD TP guidelines concerning the arm’s length principle. The core of the arm’s length principle is that transactions between associated enterprises should be treated the same as transactions between independent enterprises. This principle can be found in Article 9 of the OECD model. One transaction that may fall within the scope of Article 9 of the OECD model is business restructuring. Business restructuring was previously an unregulated TP area but with the new OECD TP guidelines, from 2010, regulations have been formulated. The aim with thesis is therefore to examine how the arm’s length principle should be applied to the new guidelines for business restructurings of intangibles with an uncertain value at the time of the restructuring.
In order to answer the question set out in this thesis some of the factors that affect the application of the arm’s length principle have been examined separately. Firstly the arm’s length principle that is the generally accepted TP method used by both taxpayers and tax administrations in order to find a fair price for transactions between associated enterprises. The principle seeks to identify the controlled transaction and thereafter find a comparable uncontrolled transaction that is similar to the transaction performed between the associated enterprises. The second part examined the meaning of the term business restructuring according to the new guidelines since there is no other legal or general definition. Business restructurings are defined as cross-border redeployments of functions assets and risks, performed by MNEs. As long as a transaction falls within this definition it will be subjected to the arm’s length principle for tax purposes. The third part examined intangibles since that also lack a general definition. The identification and valuation of intangibles is a complex and uncertain thing to do for both taxpayers and tax administrations. When applying the arm’s length principle it is however found that the issue of identification of what constitutes and intangible may be unnecessary. The aspect that should be considered is instead the value of the intangible or more precise, the value that independent enterprises would have agreed upon in a similar situation.
The applicability of the arm’s length principle to business restructurings of intangibles with an uncertain value at the time of the restructuring should be found by performing a comparability analysis. In order to perform a comparability analysis, the controlled transaction firstly has to be identified. Thereafter, a comparable uncontrolled transaction needs to be found. An equivalent uncontrolled transaction may not be found in all cases and it should in those cases be examined what independent enterprises would have done if they had been in a comparable situation.
The arm’s length principle should be applied to business restructurings of intangibles with an uncertain value in the same manner as for any other uncontrolled transaction. The issues for this type of a transaction become the identification of what constitutes a business restructuring and also how to determine a fair value for the intangibles. The OECD TP guidelines lack some guidance as to the issues that can occur when a comparable uncontrolled transaction cannot be found. This creates an unsatisfactory guesswork for both taxpayers and tax administrations when trying to determine what independent enterprises would have done if they had been in a similar situation. This creates an unnecessary uncertainty when trying to apply the arm’s length principle.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 55 p.
Transfer Pricing, Business Restructurings, The Arm's Length Principle, Intangibles, Uncertain value
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-19074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-19074DiVA: diva2:541909
Subject / course
IHH, Commercial Law
2012-05-21, 10:00 (English)
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law
Inwinkl, Petra, Dr Dr
Rendahl, Pernilla, Juris Doktor