In February of 2012, the former APA Program was moved from the Office of Chief Counsel to the Office of Transfer Pricing Operations, Large Business and International Division of the IRS (TPO) and combined with the United States Competent Authority (USCA) staff responsible for transfer pricing cases, thereby forming the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (APMA) Program. During the last quarter of 2013, new proposed revenue procedures governing APA applications and MAP applications were released for public comment in Notice 2013-79, 2013-50 I.R.B. 653, and Notice 2013-78, 2013-50 I.R.B. 633, respectively. These proposed revenue procedures reflect the changes in APMA’s structure, and more importantly, were informed by the cumulative experience of more than 20 years of APA practice in the United States, which has produced more than eleven hundred unilateral and bilateral agreements since 1991.
During 2013, the APMA Program continued to benefit from the merger and processing efficiencies that began in 2012. For the second year in a row, the number of executed APAs increased (from 140 in 2012 to 145 in 2013). The median completion time fell from 39.8 months in 2012 to 32.7 months in 2013. The increase in efficiency is further illustrated by the fact that the number of executed APAs (145) again surpassed the number of applications filed (111).
Part I of this report includes information on the structure, composition, and operation of the APMA Program; Part II presents statistical data for 2013; and Part III includes general descriptions of various elements of the APAs executed in 2013, including types of transactions covered, transfer pricing methods used, and completion time.
The 111 APA applications received during 2013, represent a slight decrease from the 126 received in 2012. Almost 75 percent of the bilateral applications filed in 2013 involved either Japan or Canada. The APMA Program increased the number of APAs executed in its second year. The 145 APAs executed in 2013 surpassed the previous record of 140 executed agreements set in 2012. Of the 145 agreements executed in 2013, 68 of the agreements (47 percent) were new APAs (i.e., not renewal APAs), an increase from the 57 (41 percent) new APAs executed in 2012.
In 2013, approximately 55 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a non-U.S. parent and a U.S. subsidiary; 40 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a U.S. parent and a non-U.S. subsidiary; and the remaining 5 percent involved transactions that included either a partnership or a branch. In 2012, approximately 75 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a non-U.S. parent and a U.S. subsidiary, while the remaining 25 percent involved transactions between a U.S. parent and a non-U.S. subsidiary.
Although more than 75 percent of covered transactions involve tangible goods and services transactions, the IRS also has successfully completed numerous APAs involving transfers of intangibles. More than 60 percent of the tested parties in the APAs executed in 2013 involved distribution or related functions, e.g., marketing and product support.
In controlled transactions using the CPM/TNMM, the Operating Margin was the most common profit level indicator (PLI) used to benchmark results for transfers of tangible and intangible property. Per the applicable regulations, Operating Margin is defined as the ratio of operating profits to sales. The Berry Ratio, defined as the ratio of gross profit to operating expenses, was applied as the profit level indicator in 8 percent of the controlled transactions that used the CPM/TNMM. Each other profit level indicator accounted for a smaller share.
For services transactions, the majority of cases applied the Services Cost Method or the CPM/TNMM. The Services Cost Method evaluates the amount charged for certain services with
reference to the total services costs.
For the APAs executed in 2013 that used external comparables data in the analysis, the most widely used data source for comparables was the Standard and Poor’s Compustat database. Other sources were also used in appropriate cases, e.g., where the tested party was not the U.S. entity. The most commonly used sources are: