Uncertainty over income tax treatments and interaction with transfer pricing

By Aileen O'Carroll - June 22, 2020

An increase in reporting requirements under the Australian Accounting Standards Board's (AASB) Interpretation 23 has created uncertainty over income tax treatments and interaction with transfer pricing.

AASB Interpretation continues to take effect this audit season with transfer pricing likely to feature heavily on potential disclosures given it is an area that is based on a significant degree of subjectivity and judgement.

What are the rules about?

In effect, for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019, AASB Interpretation 23 requires that taxpayers account for tax uncertainties where it is not probable that the taxation authority will accept a particular tax position or treatment.  

This is an increase in reporting requirements, as entities are no longer permitted to consider the probability of being audited nor the probability that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) would be able to identify all key information relevant to its assessment.  

Who do the changes apply to?

As a result of AASB Interpretation 23, it is expected that multinational entities (MNEs) will be forced to recognise significantly higher current tax liabilities in their financial statements. One area that is likely to feature heavily under AASB Interpretation 23 is transfer pricing, given it is an area in which outcomes are based on a significant degree of judgement and subjectivity.

MNEs without sufficient transfer pricing (TP) evidence/analysis will find it difficult to conclude that it is probable that their intercompany dealings will be accepted by the ATO. Consequently, it is critical to consider the new disclosure requirements in financial statements, and how the preparation of TP evidence/analysis can assist to support the position taken and/or how it is calculated.

What are the next steps?

It is critical to be aware of the increased disclosure requirements, particularly in relation to transfer pricing dealings. Urgent action is required in the lead up to audit season to determine if you have significant tax and transfer pricing uncertainties, and to commence conversations as to how the disclosure of these uncertainties can be minimised.

Contact a Pitcher Partners representative for further information and to discuss whether the preparation of TP evidence would be beneficial. 

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