A comparative analysis and subsequent recommendations for improvement of the draft advance pricing agreement legislation in South Africa

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
When dealing with multinational enterprises (MNEs) which are connected parties and located within in different jurisdictions, they must transact with each other and set prices at which they transfer goods or services1 between each other on an arm’s length basis (Ernst & Young (EY)(2021); United Nations (UN)(2021: 29)). According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the arm’s length principle (ALP) assists MNEs to identify the price at which a transaction would take place, had its members in fact been subject to market forces. In other words, the transfer price set for those transactions between unconnected persons should be used as a benchmark against which to appraise those transactions taking place between connected persons; any identified discrepancies may thereafter lead to a potential future adjustment which gives rise to transfer pricing disputes between taxpayers and the tax authorities. (South African Revenue Service (SARS) (1999: 8).) In order to minimise these transfer pricing disputes, the OECD emphasised the need for a more proactive, clear, effective discussion to take place between taxpayers and the tax authorities. The OECD has identified and communicated a proactive, upfront dispute resolution mechanism, known as advance pricing agreements (APAs). APAs are a tool that attempts to prevent disputes from arising through the proactive, upfront engagement betweenthe taxpayers and tax authorities. (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)(2016: 7 – 8); OECD (2022 a: 213).) APAs are not yet governed under South African (SA) legislation; however, although the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has submitted draft legislation on APAs for public comment, nevertheless no further steps have yet been taken to date (SARS (2021)). One of the biggest challenges of APAs which far removes their practically is the period within which they take place until completion. Statistically, there is a limitation in the amount of data which is available when dealing with APAs as a topic in isolation. The author selected a number of OECD member countries from which she was able to retrieve a limited but relevant amount of data from reliable sources, which clarifies the average time period it takes to complete an APA from start to end. The author selected both the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) for reasons which are set out below in this research report. This research report provides a comparative analysis of the draft APA legislation submitted by SARS in SA, in comparison with the APA legislation promulgated and followed in the USA and UK. Subsequently, suggested improvements to the draft APA legislation in SA by reference to the APA legislation followed both in the USA and UK are further provided.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Commerce (Specialising in Taxation) to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Accountancy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023
Multinational enterprises (MNEs), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Arm’s length principle (ALP), Pricing agreement legislation, South Africa, Arm’s length principle,, Multinational enterprises, Double taxation, Transfer pricing, UCTD, Double taxation agreement, Base erosion and profit shifting, Mutual agreement procedure, South African Revenue Service
Carvalho, Monique Fernandes. (2023). A comparative analysis and subsequent recommendations for improvement of the draft advance pricing agreement legislation in South Africa [Master’s dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg]. WireDSpace. https://hdl.handle.net/10539/38718