Transfer Pricing Case: Czech Republic vs. AHI Oscar S.R.O.


Transfer pricing disputes have become increasingly prevalent in the global business landscape, as tax authorities scrutinize intercompany transactions to ensure fair taxation. The recent case between the Czech Republic and AHI Oscar s.r.o. (Case No. 2 Afs 27/2023 – 41) has garnered significant attention, offering valuable lessons for multinational enterprises (MNEs) and revenue services alike. This comprehensive analysis delves into the intricacies of the case, its implications, and the importance of proactive measures to mitigate transfer pricing risks.

Summary and Analysis of the Judgment

Case Information:

  • Court: Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), Czech Republic
  • Case No: 2 Afs 27/2023 – 41
  • Applicant: AHI Oscar s.r.o.
  • Defendant: Odvolací finanční ředitelství (Appellate Financial Directorate)
  • Judgment Date: 24 April 2024

Judgment Summary:

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) of the Czech Republic reviewed a legal case involving AHI Oscar s.r.o. (the applicant) and the Appellate Financial Directorate (the defendant). The case centered on the tax treatment of certain expenses claimed by AHI Oscar s.r.o. for the 2012 tax year, specifically the overhead costs calculated as a percentage of gross wages paid to suppliers.

Key Points from the Judgment:

  1. Background:
    • The Tax Office for the Capital City of Prague initially assessed AHI Oscar s.r.o.’s corporate income tax and cancelled a corporate income tax loss while assessing a penalty.
    • The Appellate Financial Directorate upheld this decision, leading AHI Oscar s.r.o. to appeal to the Municipal Court in Prague, which dismissed the appeal.
  2. Core Dispute:
    • The main issue was whether the overhead costs (75% of the gross wages) paid to suppliers could be deducted as expenses for the purpose of determining the tax base.
  3. Supreme Administrative Court’s Findings:
    • The SAC found that the Municipal Court in Prague and the Appellate Financial Directorate had erred in their approach to evaluating the overhead costs.
    • The SAC emphasized that the burden of proof lies with the taxpayer to demonstrate the tax deductibility of expenses. However, the court should not dismiss expenses solely on the basis that the method of their calculation was not fully detailed if the expenses were otherwise legitimate and incurred for obtaining taxable income.
    • The SAC ruled that Section 23(7) of the Income Tax Act, which deals with prices agreed between related parties, should have been applied. This provision allows for adjusting the tax base if the prices between related parties differ from those that would be agreed between unrelated parties under similar conditions.
  4. Outcome:
    • The SAC annulled the decision of the Municipal Court in Prague and the decision of the Appellate Financial Directorate.
    • The case was referred back to the Appellate Financial Directorate for further proceedings in line with the SAC’s judgment.
    • The defendant was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings to the applicant.

Transfer Pricing Method Used:

Cost Plus Method: The judgment indicates that the overhead costs were calculated as a percentage of gross wages, which aligns with the Cost Plus Method. This method involves determining the costs incurred by the supplier of goods or services in a related-party transaction and then adding an appropriate profit mark-up. The key points suggesting the use of the Cost Plus Method include:

  • Calculation Basis: The costs were calculated as a percentage of gross wages, which is typical in the Cost Plus Method where a mark-up is applied to the costs.
  • Focus on Cost Allocation: The court examined whether the expenses related to overheads were reasonable and supported by documentation, which is central to the Cost Plus Method.
  • Related Party Transactions: The need to ensure that the prices charged between related parties are at arm’s length, as stipulated in Section 23(7) of the Income Tax Act, aligns with ensuring that the cost base and mark-up in the Cost Plus Method reflect what would be agreed between unrelated parties.

Court Conclusion

The Supreme Administrative Court highlighted the importance of properly applying transfer pricing rules, particularly ensuring that related-party transactions are conducted at arm’s length. The court ruled that the overhead costs should not have been dismissed outright without considering whether they were reasonable and aligned with what would have been agreed upon in transactions between unrelated parties. This judgment reinforces the principle that tax authorities must thoroughly evaluate the substance of transactions and the context in which they occur before deciding their tax deductibility.

Implications for Multinational Enterprises and Revenue Services

The AHI Oscar case has far-reaching implications for both MNEs and tax authorities worldwide. Here are some key takeaways:

For Multinational Enterprises

  1. Robust Transfer Pricing Documentation: The case underscores the importance of maintaining comprehensive and well-substantiated transfer pricing documentation, including detailed functional analyses and comparability studies. This includes keeping and providing detailed accounts of expenses incurred, as referenced in this case.
  2. Proactive Risk Management: MNEs should proactively assess their transfer pricing policies and methodologies to ensure compliance with the arm’s length principle and local regulations. Regular risk assessments and adjustments are crucial to mitigate potential disputes.
  3. Engagement with Tax Authorities: MNEs should foster open communication and transparency with tax authorities, addressing any concerns or queries promptly and providing clear explanations for their transfer pricing approaches.
  4. Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: MNEs should be prepared to navigate complex dispute resolution processes, such as mutual agreement procedures (MAPs) or advance pricing agreements (APAs), to resolve transfer pricing disputes effectively. ICAP is also available in the more developed country jurisdictions.

For Revenue Services

  1. Strengthening Transfer Pricing Capabilities: Revenue services should invest in building robust transfer pricing capabilities, including specialized teams with deep technical expertise and access to reliable databases for comparability analyses.
  2. Consistent Application of Guidelines: Revenue services should ensure consistent application of transfer pricing guidelines, such as the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines, to promote certainty and fairness in the tax system.
  3. Collaboration and Information Sharing: Revenue services should foster international collaboration and information sharing to combat aggressive tax planning strategies and ensure a level playing field for all taxpayers.
  4. Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: Revenue services should establish efficient and transparent dispute resolution mechanisms, such as MAPs or APAs, to resolve transfer pricing disputes promptly and equitably.

The Value of Transfer Pricing Expertise

Expert guidance can be invaluable for both MNEs and revenue services in the intricate world of transfer pricing. Prof. Dr. Daniel N. Erasmus and his team at TRM Services have extensive experience in handling high-stakes transfer pricing matters, offering strategic insights and practical solutions.

By leveraging the expertise of seasoned professionals, MNEs can proactively manage transfer pricing risks, ensure compliance, and optimize their tax strategies. Revenue services can also benefit from their insights, enhancing their transfer pricing capabilities and aligning their practices with international best practices.

Preventative Measures: Implementing a Tax Risk Management Process and Tax Steering Committee

While transfer pricing disputes are often complex and challenging, proactive measures can help mitigate risks and ensure compliance. One effective approach is implementing a robust tax risk management process and establishing a dedicated tax steering committee.

The Importance of a Tax Risk Management Process

A comprehensive tax risk management process involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential tax risks related to transfer pricing. This process should encompass the following key elements:

  1. Risk Identification: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential transfer pricing risks, such as changes in business operations, new transactions, or regulatory developments.
  2. Risk Analysis involves analyzing the identified risks to understand their potential impact, likelihood, and potential consequences for the organization.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Developing and implementing strategies to mitigate identified risks, such as updating transfer pricing policies, conducting benchmarking studies, or seeking advance pricing agreements (APAs).
  4. Monitoring and Reporting: Continuously monitor risk mitigation strategies’ effectiveness and reporting on tax risk management activities to relevant stakeholders.

The Role of a Tax Steering Committee

Establishing a dedicated tax steering committee can significantly enhance an organization’s ability to manage tax risks effectively. This committee should comprise cross-functional representatives from various departments, including tax, finance, legal, and business operations. The tax steering committee’s responsibilities may include:

  1. Oversight and Governance: Providing oversight and governance for the organization’s tax risk management process, ensuring alignment with business objectives and regulatory requirements.
  2. Strategy Development: Developing and implementing a comprehensive tax strategy that considers transfer pricing implications and aligns with the organization’s overall business strategy.
  3. Risk Monitoring: Regularly monitoring and assessing tax risks, including transfer pricing risks, and ensuring appropriate mitigation measures are in place.
  4. Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging with relevant stakeholders, such as tax authorities, external advisors, and industry associations, to stay informed about regulatory developments and best practices.
  5. Dispute Resolution: Overseeing the resolution of tax disputes, including transfer pricing disputes, and ensuring effective communication and collaboration with tax authorities.

Organizations can proactively identify and mitigate transfer pricing risks by implementing a robust tax risk management process and establishing a dedicated tax steering committee, fostering compliance and minimizing the likelihood of costly disputes. Click here to download our FREE eBook on setting up a Steering Committee.

Closing Thoughts

The Czech Republic vs. AHI Oscar case is a powerful reminder of the complexities and challenges associated with transfer pricing disputes. As tax authorities scrutinise intercompany transactions, MNEs must prioritize robust transfer pricing policies, comprehensive documentation, and proactive risk management strategies. 

Organizations can confidently navigate the intricate landscape of transfer pricing by leveraging the expertise of seasoned professionals. Additionally, implementing a tax risk management process and establishing a dedicated tax steering committee can significantly enhance an organization’s ability to effectively identify, mitigate, and manage transfer pricing risks. 

Ultimately, proactive measures, open communication with tax authorities, and a commitment to compliance are essential for MNEs to navigate transfer pricing disputes successfully and maintain a competitive edge in the global market.


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