Identifying transfer pricing risk

Produced by Tolley in association with Anne Fairpo

The following Corporation Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley in association with Anne Fairpo provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Identifying transfer pricing risk
  • Overview of approach
  • Indicators of risk
  • Inconsistent profits
  • Intangibles
  • Borrowing
  • Group structures
  • Transactions with low tax jurisdictions
  • Effective tax rate
  • Management fees and intercompany payments
  • More...

Identifying transfer pricing risk

Overview of approach

There is an agreed framework in relation to transfer pricing that sets out the process for handling enquiries, with each case passing through a series of steps or 'stage gates'. This methodology aims to provide a structured, consistent approach with an expected time frame for resolution of 18 months. Please refer to HMRC approach to transfer pricing enquiries for further guidance.

HMRC will undertake a full risk assessment prior to opening a transfer pricing enquiry, a procedure that emulates their general interactions with large businesses. If the result of this risk assessment process suggests that there is a low risk of a transfer pricing issue arising, the transfer pricing enquiry will not be pursued. HMRC states in INTM482040 that a number of factors taken together, rather than individual indicators alone, will signal the existence of a transfer pricing risk.

The results of the risk assessment will be used to compile a business case that is required to open a transfer pricing enquiry. For this reason, HMRC’s own guidance states that the risk assessment should be as detailed as is feasible in the circumstances, and should include the following:

  1. an overview of the business

  2. a review of the group structure

  3. details of the main competitors

  4. a summary of any previous transfer pricing enquiries

A more detailed list is set out in INTM482130.

HMRC has introduced a team of specialists who are responsible for undertaking the risk assessment process and who will actively work alongside the customer relationship manager (CRM) or case coordinator. This improved process should result in enquiries where there are clear transfer pricing risk issues in the context of the groups or companies involved.

Indicators of risk

As mentioned above, prior to commencing any transfer pricing enquiry, HMRC will carry out a risk assessment of the bu

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