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In brief

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) updated its transfer pricing (TP) guidelines on 10 August 2021, with the release of the IRAS e-Tax Guide: Transfer Pricing Guidelines (Sixth Edition) (“Revised TPG“). In line with Singapore’s approach to be aligned with international standards, the changes are generally consistent with the OECD’s “Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations” published on 10 July 2017 (“OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines“). IRAS has provided additional guidance and clarification with respect to TP documentation (TPD) compliance, surcharges on TP adjustments, advanced pricing arrangements (APA) and mutual agreement procedure (MAP) requests.

In this alert, we discuss the Revised TPG and consider its impact on taxpayers.


Key takeaways

  • Moving forward, there will be a greater focus from IRAS in requiring robust TP analysis and TPD that fulfils Singapore TPD requirements. Taxpayers should consider whether the newly introduced administrative concessions could reduce their compliance burden. Taxpayers should also review their existing TPD, as well as their plans to prepare TP analysis and TPD going forward in light of the changes.
  • Additional guidance on cost contribution arrangements (CCAs) and financial transactions are provided.
  • IRAS would consider remitting the 5% surcharge applied on TP adjustments in certain circumstances. The surcharges are likely to have significant financial impact, and getting a remission is particularly important for multinational enterprise (MNE) groups with subsidiaries in Singapore where the surcharge is not creditable in the jurisdiction of the holding company. Taxpayers should ensure proper TPD is maintained, as well as consider the benefits of providing prompt voluntary disclosures where TP issues have been identified.
  • Taxpayers should thoroughly review transactions relating to APA requests to ensure that there are bona fide commercial reasons for the transactions, and that these do not have the main objective of reducing or avoiding tax. Taxpayers will have to explain and justify any changes to TP methodology where there are no significant changes to the facts and circumstances.
  • IRAS raises the availability of arbitration under certain Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) to resolve TP disputes that cannot be settled under a MAP within a certain period, subject to certain conditions being met.
  • Where TP adjustments are made by foreign tax authorities, IRAS will not allow an additional tax deduction claim and will not allow the refund of taxes previously withheld in the absence of a MAP application.

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Author

Allen Tan is the head of the Tax, Trade and Wealth Management practice in Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. He has extensive experience working on both international and local tax issues, with a special focus on the regional tax aspects of the transactions that he is involved in. Allen’s clients include Global Fortune 500 multinational corporations and major Singapore conglomerates. He is recognised as a leading lawyer for his tax controversy and corporate tax work in many leading legal and tax directories including International Tax Review, Chambers Asia Pacific and Legal 500 Asia Pacific. Allen was also named the Asia Tax Practice Leader of the Year 2018 by International Tax Review.

Author

Dawn Quek is a leading tax and private client lawyer in Singapore with many years of experience in corporate tax and international tax planning. She is the Head of the Wealth Management practice in Singapore and is the Asia Pacific representative on the Firm's Global Wealth Management Steering Committee. Dawn is consistently ranked as a leading tax and private client/wealth lawyer by various legal publications including Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) Guide, International Tax Review Women in Tax Leaders Guide and the Legal 500 Asia Pacific. She was named "Private Client Lawyer of the Year" at the 2018 Asia Legal Awards by The Asian Lawyer, and named "Women in Wealth Management" at the 2018 WealthBriefingAsia Awards. Dawn is a key player in the local wealth management and financial services scene. She frequently participates in formal and informal consultations with government authorities on law reform on issues relating to the wealth management and financial services industry from a tax and legal perspective. She has also co-written articles on international tax planning issues in various tax and legal journals published by CCH and BNA. In addition, Dawn has been quoted extensively in publications such as the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Reuters, the Financial Times, the Straits Times, the Business Times and Asian Private Banker on issues and developments affecting the wealth management industry in Singapore.

Author

Shih Hui Lee has advised on both regional and Singapore tax issues, with focus on advising MNCs on international tax aspects of cross-border transactions. Her practice includes advising clients on tax issues arising from mergers and acquisitions, indirect taxes, transfer taxes, foreign direct investment and cross-border tax planning issues. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Shih Hui worked in one of the Big Four accounting firms in Singapore. She has experienced being an in-house regional tax advisor in one of the multinational cable and satellite television channel.

Author

Abe Zhao is the Head of Transfer Pricing China in Baker McKenzie Fenxun.

Author

Jaclyn has over 10 years of experience and specialises in solving the tax needs of multinational corporations and Singapore-headquartered companies across various industries globally and regionally. She is adept at complex tax transformations to help clients unlock and maximise long term value, and achieve sustainable and tangible benefits, in tandem with business current and target operating models. Jaclyn has extensive and deep experience in unlocking corporate synergies across the spectrum of tax-related services that Baker & McKenzie offers. Whether it is an international tax issue, restructuring strategies and implementation, intellectual property planning, M&A, or tax incentive negotiations with the relevant authorities, Jaclyn is a trusted advisor to her clients with her practical, sophisticated, innovative, and tailored solutions.

Author

Martin Bell is a Transfer Pricing Manager in Baker McKenzie Singapore office.

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