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Advance pricing arrangements : an Australian Tax Office success or a legislative failure?

Sadiq, Kerrie (2006) Advance pricing arrangements : an Australian Tax Office success or a legislative failure? In Proceedings of: 18th Australasian Tax Teachers Association Conference: Old Taxes in a New World, Australasian Tax Teachers Association, Melbourne, VIC.

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    Abstract

    Australia’s domestic income tax legislation and double tax agreements contain transfer pricing rules which are designed to counter the underpayment of tax by businesses engaged in international dealings between related parties. The current legislation and agreements require that related party transactions take place at a value which reflects an arm’s length price, that is, a price which would be charged between unrelated parties. For a host of reasons, it is increasingly difficult for multinational entities to demonstrate that they are transferring goods and services at a price which is reflective of the behaviour of independent parties, thereby making it difficult to demonstrate compliance with the relevant legislation. Further, where an Australian business undertakes cross-border related party transactions there is the risk of an audit by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). If a business wishes to avoid the risk of an audit, and any ensuing penalties, there is one option: an advance pricing arrangement (APA). An APA is an agreement whereby the future transfer pricing methodology to be used to determine the arm’s length price is agreed to by the taxpayer and the relevant tax authority or authorities. The ATO views the APA process as an important part of its international tax strategy and believes that there are complementary benefits provided to both the taxpayer and the ATO. The ATO promotes the APA process on the basis of creating greater certainty for all parties while reducing compliance costs and the risk of audit and penalty. While the ATO regards the APA system as a success, it may be argued that the implementation of such a system is simply a practical solution to an ongoing problem of an inherent failure in both the legislation and ATO interpretation and application of this legislation to provide certainty to the taxpayer. This paper investigates the use of APAs as a solution to the problem of transfer pricing and considers whether they are the success the ATO claims. It is argued that there is no doubt that APAs provide a valuable practical tool for multinational entities facing the challenges of the taxation of global trading under the current transfer pricing regime. It does not, however, provide a long term solution. Rather, the long term solution may be in the form of legislative amendment.

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    ID Code: 50171
    Item Type: Conference Paper
    Keywords: taxaion
    Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000)
    Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
    Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
    Deposited On: 09 May 2012 09:24
    Last Modified: 26 Jun 2012 11:31

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