Comparability Analysis in Transfer PricingBy Robert Robillard - 28 May 2014
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Paragraph 1.33 of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines explains:
“Application of the arm’s length principle is generally based on a comparison of the conditions in a controlled transaction with the conditions in transactions between independent enterprises. In order for such comparisons to be useful, the economically relevant characteristics of the situations being compared must be sufficiently comparable. […].”
Paragraph 1.36 indicates:
“[…] In order to establish the degree of actual comparability and then to make appropriate adjustments to establish arm’s length conditions (or a range thereof), it is necessary to compare attributes of the transactions or enterprises that would affect conditions in arm’s length transactions. Attributes or “comparability factors” that may be important when determining comparability include the characteristics of the property or services transferred, the functions performed by the parties (taking into account assets used and risks assumed), the contractual terms, the economic circumstances of the parties, and the business strategies pursued by the parties. […].”
These are the five comparability factors in transfer pricing. In Canada, paragraph 32 of IC 87-2R International Transfer Pricing recognizes these factors. They have been codified in subsection 247(4) of the Income Tax Act as follow:
“(i) the property or services to which the transaction relates,
(ii) the terms and conditions of the transaction and their relationship, if any, to the terms and conditions of each other transaction entered into between the participants in the transaction,
(iii) the identity of the participants in the transaction and their relationship to each other at the time the transaction was entered into,
(iv) the functions performed, the property used or contributed and the risks assumed, in respect of the transaction, by the participants in the transaction,
(v) the data and methods considered and the analysis performed to determine the transfer prices or the allocations of profits or losses or contributions to costs, as the case may be, in respect of the transaction, and
(vi) the assumptions, strategies and policies, if any, that influenced the determination of the transfer prices or the allocations of profits or losses or contributions to costs, as the case may be, in respect of the transaction;”
In the United States, item (d)(1) of section 482, §1.482-1 Allocation of income and deductions among taxpayers, includes the same comparability factors:
“(d) Comparability—(1) In general. Whether a controlled transaction produces an arm’s length result is generally evaluated by comparing the results of that transaction to results realized by uncontrolled taxpayers engaged in comparable transactions under comparable circumstances. For this purpose, the comparability of transactions and circumstances must be evaluated considering all factors that could affect prices or profits in arm’s length dealings (comparability factors). While a specific comparability factor may be of particular importance in applying a method, each method requires analysis of all of the factors that affect comparability under that method. Such factors include the following—
(ii) Contractual terms;
(iv) Economic conditions; and
(v) Property or services.”
Robert Robillard, CPA, CGA, MBA, M.Sc. Econ.
Transfer Pricing Chief Economist, RBRT Inc.
514-742-8086; robert.robillard “at” rbrt.ca
RBRT Inc. is all about transfer pricing. We specialize in transfer pricing. Our services include transfer pricing documentation, transfer pricing dispute resolution, advanced pricing agreement (APA), value chain management and TP planning, transfer pricing training. The information in this blog post is general information only. Data and information come from sources believed to be reliable but complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed. RBRT Inc. and the author are not responsible or liable for any error, omission or inaccuracy in such information. Readers should seek independent tax advice and tax counsel from RBRT Inc. as required.
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