Transfer Pricing Guidelines

Transfer Pricing Guidelines for documentation requirements in UAE


Abhishek Goel

10/24/20233 min read

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Transfer pricing is a critical consideration for multinational enterprises (MNEs) engaged in cross-border transactions. It refers to the pricing of goods, services, and intellectual property transferred between related entities within an organization. To ensure fair taxation and compliance with international tax regulations, it is imperative for companies to establish and maintain compliant transfer pricing practices.

The Importance of Transfer Pricing

Transfer pricing serves several essential functions for MNEs:

  1. Minimizing Tax Liabilities: Properly structured transfer pricing can help MNEs minimize their global tax liabilities by allocating profits and expenses appropriately among different entities.

  2. Compliance with Local Regulations: Many countries have specific transfer pricing regulations in place to prevent profit shifting and tax avoidance. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to avoid penalties and audits.

  3. Risk Mitigation: Maintaining transfer pricing documentation and complying with regulations reduces the risk of disputes with tax authorities, which can be time-consuming and costly.

Key Transfer Pricing Compliances

  1. Arm's Length Principle: The foundation of transfer pricing is the arm's length principle, which requires that related entities price their transactions as if they were unrelated third parties. This principle ensures fairness in determining taxable income.

  2. Documentation Requirements: Many countries, including those in the OECD, mandate transfer pricing documentation. This includes detailed information about the transactions, the chosen transfer pricing methods, and the selection of comparables.

  3. Local Regulations: Each country may have its own specific requirements and regulations regarding transfer pricing. MNEs must stay informed about these regulations and adapt their transfer pricing policies accordingly.

  4. Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs): In some jurisdictions, MNEs can proactively seek APAs, which are agreements with tax authorities that establish transfer pricing methods and margins in advance, providing certainty and reducing the risk of disputes.

  5. Benchmarking Studies: To support their transfer pricing methods, companies often conduct benchmarking studies to demonstrate that their pricing is in line with market conditions. These studies involve comparing the company's prices with those of independent third parties.

  6. Contemporaneous Documentation: Many countries require contemporaneous transfer pricing documentation, meaning that documentation must be prepared at the time of the related-party transactions and kept on record.

  7. Penalties and Dispute Resolution: Failure to comply with transfer pricing regulations can result in penalties. Companies should also be prepared for dispute resolution mechanisms, such as negotiations, arbitration, or litigation, in case of disagreements with tax authorities.

Best Practices for Transfer Pricing Compliances

  1. Robust Documentation: Maintain comprehensive transfer pricing documentation that includes detailed descriptions of transactions, selected transfer pricing methods, comparables analysis, and economic analyses.

  2. Engage Experts: Work with transfer pricing professionals who are well-versed in international regulations and can provide guidance on compliance.

  3. Regular Reviews: Continuously review and update your transfer pricing policies to ensure they remain in compliance with evolving regulations and market conditions.

  4. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with transfer pricing regulations in each jurisdiction where your company operates, as well as international developments such as BEPS initiatives.

To ensure compliance with transfer pricing rules and to avoid potential issues, it's recommended that businesses operating in the UAE follow best practices and consider the following:

  1. Documentation: Prepare transfer pricing documentation to support the arm's length nature of intercompany transactions. While there may not be specific guidelines, following the OECD's guidelines is generally a good practice.

  2. Transfer Pricing Methods: Apply transfer pricing methods recognized by the OECD, such as the Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP), Resale Price (RPM), or Cost Plus (CPL) methods, to determine arm's length prices.

  3. Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs): Consider seeking an Advance Pricing Agreement with the relevant UAE authorities, if possible. APAs provide certainty on the pricing methodology for a specified period.

  4. Local Compliance: Understand and adhere to the rules and regulations specific to the emirate where your business is located or the free zone you operate in, as local authorities may have their own requirements.

  5. Professional Advice: Seek the advice of a tax professional or transfer pricing expert who is knowledgeable about the UAE's specific requirements and evolving regulations.

UAE FTA has released Transfer Pricing Guidelines which provide comprehensive information on the compliance and documentation requirements in UAE. It also provide the details of information to be kept by all businesses to comply with the local compliance as well as the Country by Country Reporting required.