The Platform for Collaboration on Tax Invites Comments on a Toolkit to Help Developing Countries with Transfer Pricing Analyses

January 24, 2017

Responding to a request by the Development Working Group of the G20, the Platform for Collaboration on Tax – a joint initiative of the IMF, OECD, UN and World Bank Group – has developed a draft toolkit designed to assist developing countries in an important area of international tax policy: transfer pricing. The Platform is now seeking public feedback on that toolkit, which specifically addresses the ways developing countries can overcome a lack of data on “comparables,” or the market prices for goods and services transferred between members of multinational corporations.

The toolkit is part of a series of reports by the Platform that are designed to help countries that may have limitations in their capacity to design or administer strong tax systems. Previous reports have included discussions of tax incentives and external support for building tax capacity in developing countries . Helping developing countries build strong and credible transfer pricing regimes is an important part of the Platform’s effort to increase the capacity of developing countries to apply the principles of the G20-OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, an initiative that assists countries in protecting their tax bases from aggressive or inappropriate tax planning by multinational corporations.

Transfer pricing – the value assigned to transactions between subsidiaries of multinational corporations – is an increasingly critical issue in a globalized world. This draft toolkit A Toolkit for Addressing Difficulties in Accessing Comparables Data for Transfer Pricing Analyses examines how tax administrations can evaluate the correctness of the transfer prices set by multinationals when there is insufficient information available to governments on market-based transactions that are comparable to those reported by the multinational corporation (“comparables”). The toolkit offers advice on making the best use of data that exists and options for monitoring the behavior of multinational corporations in situations in which no data is available.

The discussion draft first seeks to put the search for potential comparables in context, emphasizing the importance of accurately defining the transaction to ensure the subsequent search for comparables is as efficient and effective as possible. Next, sources of potential comparables data are considered, and practical tools such as step-by-step screening templates are suggested. To address situations where there is a systemic lack of comparables data, the draft considers potential policy options such as the development of safe harbors. The toolkit is available in French and Spanish.

In addition, since the pricing of transactions in the extractive industries is an issue of particular relevance to many low-income countries, the draft toolkit also addresses the information gaps on prices of minerals sold in an intermediate form. The supplementary material on minerals pricing Addressing the Information Gaps on Prices of Minerals Sold in an Intermediate Form provides a systematic process that could be used by tax administrations to map the transformation chain for a particular mineral, identify key traded products and establish common industry pricing practices. Detailed case studies demonstrating the process are then provided for copper, gold, thermal coal and iron ore. The supplementary material is also available in French and in Spanish.

The Platform partners now seek comments by April 7, 2017 from interested stakeholders on the draft toolkit, including the supplementary material on minerals pricing, with the aim of finalizing it in the coming months.

Questions to consider

1. Does this toolkit effectively help address the challenges identified by developing countries in finding the data needed to carry out a transfer pricing analysis as part of a tax audit?

2. How can better use of administrative information, in a way that maintains taxpayer confidentiality, be effectively facilitated at a country and regional level?

3. How could the reliability of potential comparables from other geographic markets be tested?

4. Are there best practices or other reliable approaches for dealing with a lack of comparables not addressed in the discussion draft?

5. What other adjustments for geographic market differences could be made, and in what circumstances? How could the reliability of such adjustments be empirically tested?

6. Do the mineral pricing case studies accurately reflect market trading terms? Are there other adjustments that would be routinely made when these mineral products are sold?

Please do not restrict yourself to these questions; any other views you have on the addressing the lack of comparables for transfer pricing analyses and on information gaps on prices of minerals sold in an intermediate form would be welcome.

Comments and input on the draft will be taken into consideration in finalising the toolkit.

Comments should be sent by e-mail no later than April 7, 2017 to , a common comment box for all the Platform organizations.

Please note that all comments received will be made publicly available. Comments submitted in the name of a collective “grouping” or “coalition”, or by any person submitting comments on behalf of another person or group of persons, should identify all enterprises or individuals who are members of that collective group, or the person(s) on whose behalf the commentator(s) are acting.

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